“There is no health without mental health.” – David Satcher, former Surgeon General of the United States.
According to one study, over 20% of Americans live with some type of mental illness, and more than 55% of those individuals do not receive any help or treatment.
This is Mental Health Awareness Month, a national movement aimed at raising awareness about mental health issues. This observance has been held every May since 1949.
The Impact of Mental Health Issues
A person’s overall well-being can be profoundly affected by mental health issues like hypertension, depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder. There is still a great deal of stigma surrounding mental health, which can make seeking help and sharing experiences challenging.
When individuals seek mental health support, they can still feel shame and isolation due to the stigma surrounding mental health. Due to this stigma, more than 50% of Americans do not receive mental health treatment. Creating a supportive environment where people feel comfortable seeking help is crucial to reducing this stigma.
Almost everyone knows someone struggling with mental health issues, whether they are family, friends, colleagues, or even themselves. We must extend our support and urge them, or ourselves, to seek professional help.
Doctors emphasize the importance of early diagnosis and appropriate treatment for mental health issues. Untreated or undiagnosed mental health issues can significantly affect a person’s quality of life.
Here are some of the best expert-approved mental health tips that include meditation and mindfulness:
1. Pamper yourself: Keep your gut healthy with good food. Mental health is closely tied to gut health. Millions of nerve cells in the gastrointestinal tract produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Neurotransmitters affect mood, emotions, and cognition. A healthy diet contributes to mental clarity and peace of mind. A nutrient-rich diet can improve brain function, enhance mood, and reduce anxiety and depression risks. In addition, you should exercise regularly and take a short walk in the park whenever you feel overwhelmed by emotions or anxiety. Maintain your mental health by taking breaks throughout the day.
2. Practice spirituality: A sense of spirituality is a belief in a higher power, a connection to nature, or a sense of purpose or meaning in life. Spirituality can be practiced through meditation and mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness involves living in the present moment without worry. It helps in preventing unnecessary stress and negative thoughts, improving mental health. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Use apps or guided meditations to get started. Find the meditation method that works for you and make it a regular habit. Just a few minutes of daily practice can make a big difference in managing mental health issues.
3. Start journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings on paper serves as a means of self-reflection and self-expression that can be beneficial to your mental health. Studies show that humans have over 6000 thoughts per day, which might invite many negative thoughts. It is important to write down your thoughts and feelings in order to gain clarity and rectify wrong thoughts. It is one of the most powerful meditations that people can use to get rid of overthinking, overwhelming emotions, and stress they experience.
4. Practice gratitude: The emotion of gratitude involves acknowledging, as well as appreciating, the good things in one’s life. The practice of gratitude can be fostered by keeping a gratitude journal. Gratitude promotes positive emotions and counteracts negative emotions like stress, anxiety, and depression. Making people resilient, it helps them bounce back from difficult situations. Gratitude also boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, and improves sleep.
5. Give yourself a positive pep talk: Negative self-talk contributes to anxiety and depression. How you speak to yourself affects your mental health. Adopt a positive, encouraging voice inside. By reframing negative thoughts into positive ones, you can practice positive self-talk. Consider the things you can do to make yourself feel better and be kind to yourself. With improved self-esteem and confidence, individuals can feel more capable and empowered. Moreover, positive self-talk can improve mood and well-being by enhancing positive emotions like happiness and contentment.
6. Embrace your insecurities: Self-doubt or feeling insecure about oneself or one’s abilities are insecurities. Insecurities are caused by past experiences, social comparisons, and internal attitudes. Negative self-talk and self-sabotage are common results of insecurities. For example, body insecurities can lead to eating disorders. Insecurities can originate from past traumas or negative comments, so self-compassion and understanding the source can help you overcome them. Reframe those insecurities as opportunities for growth and self-improvement.
7. Console your inner child: The inner child is the idea that we all have a child-like, innocent, and vulnerable part of ourselves. It’s shaped by childhood experiences. In adults, the wounded inner child can manifest itself in many ways, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues. The wounded inner child can be healed through positive self-talk, counselling with the therapist, and proper medication if you have had even worse experiences.
8. Limit screen time: Although electronic devices have made people more connected and engaged, screens are harmful to our mental and physical health. By viewing the unrealistic and filtered world on social media platforms, we feel negative about ourselves, suffer from anxiety and depression, and question ourselves. It is important to be mindful of the content consumed on electronic devices and their potential impact on mental health.
9. Set boundaries: By setting boundaries with others, you can reduce stress and improve your mental health. Be clear about what you need to feel safe and comfortable, and let others know what those needs are. Don’t be afraid to say no if something doesn’t feel right. Give yourself permission to prioritize your emotional health. Developing an assertive attitude can help in setting boundaries. Be mindful of what you are willing to accept or tolerate.
10. Seek medical support: Don’t hesitate to see a therapist or go on the proper medication if you are struggling with difficult life events, depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health conditions. A therapist can help you gain insight into your condition, develop coping skills and provide emotional support. With their help, you can make positive changes in your life, manage your symptoms and improve your overall well-being.
As we enter National Mental Health Month, we should recognize the impact mental health issues have on our overall well-being. Working towards reducing the stigma surrounding mental health is crucial to prioritizing mental health as much as physical health. The above-mentioned mindfulness and meditation best practices can be incorporated into our daily routine to manage mental health issues and promote overall wellness. Practicing these techniques regularly can support our mental health and prioritize self-care.