Daily Mental Health Habits for Your Wellbeing
Updated: Apr 10, 2020
We all get a little down and out sometimes, and even more so during these unprecedented times. And that's okay! But it's important to stay positive as, after all, optimal health isn't merely about the body. It's a mental thing too.
Practising good mental health habits goes hand-in-hand with taking care of your body and your overall well-being.
So, what mental habits should you start incorporating into your daily life? Here are 6 suggestions from the iSelf team that we hope you find useful.
Now… you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute, didn't you guys just say that it's not all about the body?"
It's not. But exercise isn't exactly all about the body either. The physiological processes stimulated by exercise also impacts your mood and your overall mental health. In fact, various studies indicate that exercise is associated with a better quality of life. It can even improve your cognitive function, especially as you age.
Try it out - even a quick 10 minutes a day. Make it a routine to go for a quick walk every day or if you're feeling more energetic get out for a bike ride or a run.
2. Start a Gratitude Journal
Do you find yourself wrapped up in a pattern of negative self-talk? Or perhaps you spiral and find yourself deep in the hole with negative thoughts. You can't seem to dig yourself out of it.
Surprisingly, for the average person, a large portion of their thoughts each day are negative. Yet, practising gratitude can help pull you out of a negative thought pattern. It forces you to find the good in your life, no matter how small those positive bits might be. It also helps you practice positive thinking and positive self-talk. The more you do it, the better you get at it.
Research shows that meditation may reduce stress, improve overall mental health, and even increase your emotional intelligence.
However, meditation can take on many different forms. Some individuals might find it through exercise, like yoga or running. Others might find it through deep breathing techniques. It's about finding a method or strategy that works for you.
4. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
If you're staying up late or sleeping at all different times, this is the one habit you'll want to focus on. Sleep should never end up on the back burner. Without it, your performance, concentration, problem-solving capabilities, and energy levels suffer. In turn, this floods over and impacts your mental health and overall well-being.
And getting a good sleep comes down to pretty basic stuff. Make sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Limit your screen time before bed. Instead, participate in a relaxing activity 1-2 hours before your set bedtimes, such as a warm bath, meditation, gentle yoga, reading, or a creative and relaxing hobby. Sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool space. Aim for about 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
5. Drink More Water
Dehydration can actually impact your mental health. Your body is 60% water. Yet, your brain is about 75% water. Interestingly, this means that not drinking enough water may reduce your memory and attention. It also significantly impacts your mood.
Essentially, your brain isn't able to function correctly without proper hydration. So, drink up! On average, men should drink about 3.7 litres per day and women should drink about 2.7 litres per day. Consider bringing a water bottle around with you throughout your day.
6. Try Out Affirmations
Affirmations are phrases that resonate with you and help set you down a road of positivity. Basically, you say the phrase 5-10 times each day. For example, if you often get stressed about time management, try out the affirmation: "I have more than enough time to do everything I need to do today." If you're low on confidence, try: "I am becoming more and more confident and comfortable in myself each day." The more you say it, the more you'll believe it to be true. Thus, the more it will become true.
And yes, it sounds a little bit like some hocus-pocus nonsense. But tons of people say it works for them (including some pretty famous and successful individuals). It can't hurt to try it, right? Aim to say your affirmation 5-10 times each day. See if it helps improve your life.
The More You Practice These Habits, The Easier They Get!
The hard part is making a habit in the first place. Give yourself 90-100 days for new habits to form. Track how you feel after you've practised each one. Do you feel better? Do you feel worse? Write down your thoughts and find out if these work for you. Chances are, you'll find one that sticks. You've got this!
If you need help in a crisis, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For further information about depression contact Beyond Blue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.