Some of us wake up in the morning, ready to go for runs, hit the gym, or do an early morning exercise routine. For others, the afternoons are when we get in some physical activity. Many of us spend a great deal of time on trying to stay physically healthy. While physical fitness should be a priority, staying mentally healthy is equally as important.
Sometimes the two come hand-in-hand. Other times, more effort is exuded to go to greater lengths to keep the mind in check. It's not always an easy task, however, due to busy schedules and our own anxieties that can often get in the way. I for one understand what it's like to put your own health aside due to work. More concerned with my job than my own health, I found that at the end of a long work day stress had crept in and it was there to stay.
Some weeks there was no time for a day off, and my health was beginning to suffer. I felt tired and fatigued, lacked the energy to even do my job, and worse, lacked the general inspiration I felt to do the things I love. I began to realize that I need to take some time for me, doing something only for myself rather than other people. Making slight changes in my day, I soon discovered that even the smallest of changes resulted in a happier me.
It can be hard to find time in the day to dedicate towards your mental health, but when we don't the body begins to suffer. By not taking care of our mind, a slew of problems – from anxiety to depression – can arise. Dedicating a small amount of time each day to mental health keeps us on track. Whether it's ten minutes of alone time or taking a mental health day, it's important to exercise the mind. If you find you are struggling in this area, here are some tips on how to keep your mind on track with being happy and healthy.
1. Social Interaction
As humans, we are naturally social creatures. Even the most introverted individuals crave social interaction on some level. When we find ourselves cooped up or too busy to see our friends, it's easy to begin to feel down. Remaining engaged in social activity can do wonders for keeping us healthy.
Think about it: when you have a problem, who do you talk to? We often rely on a good friend's ear to help us with our problems. Whether or not we take their advice, simply talking with a friend makes us feel better. This is a part of social interaction that keeps us healthy. Whether you have time to meet up for coffee, go out to dinner, or simply meet up for an early morning run, taking the time to engage in social interaction can do wonders for staying mentally healthy.
For some of us, reading is a natural part of our daily routine. For others, you may have gone months without picking up a book. Reading, however, is an excellent resource for keeping the mind sharp as well as squeezing in a bit of 'me time.' Set aside some time in the day and pick up a book of interest to you. You can learn a new skill, brush up on your favorite topic, or simply read for leisure. Whichever topic you find fascinating, reading keeps the mind active while engaging in mental exercise that is important to your health.
Meditation is good for the soul and mind. The best part is, it's easy to squeeze into the day! I have found that even with five minutes of early morning meditation, I feel more relaxed and ready to conquer the day. If you have more time to dedicate, then even better. This form of brain exercise has many benefits for mental health.
According to Medical Daily, a study done by Harvard researchers found meditating for eight weeks improved the brain's grey matter. This in turn resulted in improved empathy, memory, stress relief, and a greater sense of self. Meditation also has other health benefits that include improved sleep and lower blood pressure.
If you've never tried meditation and are interested in giving it a whirl, then checkout these 5 easy steps to get started. Or head on over to this 30-Day Meditation Challenge and see how one month can change your mental clarity. If you're really pressed for time in the day, you can even do mediation at work without leaving your desk!
The best part about exercise is it not only keeps you physically healthy, but mentally as well. I find that doing just a 2-mile run improves my mood more than if I didn't run at all. Beyond the benefits of staying slim, regular exercise can keep your mindset positive and the mind sharp. Exercise also acts as a natural remedy for anxiety and depression. According to Harvard Health Publications, “regular exercise can improve mood in people with mild to moderate depression. It also may play a supporting role in treating severe depression.”
It's important to get out and be active -- not only for your body, but for your mind. While those with a busy schedule may find it hard to squeeze a workout regimen into the day, you may find that even setting aside ten minutes to take a peaceful stroll around the neighborhood will improve your mindset.
5. Ditch Social Media
Interaction through social media has become the norm, but not without consequences. While getting instant responses can trigger the happy hormone, giving the mind a sense of instant gratification, not receiving immediate response can set the nerves on edge. There are dangers lurking in social media that pose a threat to a healthy mind.
According to a journal posted on NCBI, “several studies have indicated that the prolonged use of social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook, may be related to signs and symptoms of depression.” Researchers are finding a correlation between social media use, and an unhappy mindset. Ditching social media for real social interactions teaches us how to connect on a one-on-one basis. While there may be many positive aspects of social media such as keeping up with old friends or promoting a business, it's important to keep it in check. Maintaining face-to-face interaction in real life rather than relying on social media is just another way to help keep the mind healthy.
It's relatively easy to get caught up in your own world. Work, family, and other obligations tend to prevent us from taking time to keep the mind healthy. However, if you don't take the time, everything from being slightly on edge to a nervous breakdown can occur. This can have a negative impact on personal relationships, work, and your own physical health. Do yourself a favor, and set aside some time to keep your mind in check. The rest of your body – along with those around you - will thank you.