Mental illness affects a substantial proportion of the US population. 17 million adults report experiencing at least one major depressive episode in any given year, while over 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.
When mental health conditions present at the same time as alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder, this is known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder and it complicates things further.
Maybe you’re struggling with mental health issues yourself, or perhaps it’s your loved one with depression, anxiety, or a personality disorder. Either way, you can do more than familiarize yourself with the signs of mental health issues when you’re browsing mental health resources.
All mental health conditions are different, but there are some simple self-care tips you can employ to improve most of these disorders.
10 Ways To Stay On Top of Your Mental Health
1. Prioritize your physical health
2. Give yourself permission to take some time out
3. Stop worrying so much about what other people think
4. Practice meditation
5. Join an online support group
6. Ask for help when you need it
7. Start your days early and with purpose
8. Connect with people you love to be around
9. Avoid using drink or drugs
10. Set realistic goals
1) Prioritize your physical health
Mens sana in corpore sano: a healthy body in a healthy mind. This Latin phrase is widely used to illustrate the close and interrelated nature of your physical and mental health.
Your diet is key to your overall health. Eat as many whole foods as possible and limit your intake of processed foods and sugars. Aim for five daily portions of fruit and veggies. If you find this challenging, use a juicer or smoothie maker to take more nutrients onboard the easy way. Stay properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
The right quality and quantity of sleep will strengthen you and keep you energized while also improving your mental state.
Exercise for thirty minutes each day within your own comfortable limits. If you’ve never done any form of exercise before, start slowly and gradually build yourself up. A five-minute walk around the block is better than nothing at all. Not only does exercising build you up physically, but the endorphins and dopamine your body produces as you exercise can improve your mood, too.
2) Give yourself permission to take some time out
Many people burdened by an anxiety disorder find it almost impossible to disengage and fully relax.
You might find you have such a hectic schedule at work and home that you seem to perpetually put the needs of others first.
If for any reason you find it tough to switch off and properly relax, you could reframe the concept of taking time off. Rather than berating yourself for wasting time and feeling guilty, view this as an investment in yourself. Instead of remaining on the go until you drop, take the chance to switch off, meditate, or zone out and daydream when you need a break.
The kicker is that you’ll not only help reduce stress and anxiety, but you’ll also be more beneficial to others if you’re rested and energized.
3) Stop worrying so much about what other people think
Ask yourself honestly how much time you spend worrying about what others might think. Might is the operative word here since you don’t really know what anyone else is thinking.
Unfortunately, most people place inordinate value on the possible opinions of loved ones, friends, and even complete strangers.
Social media can leave you feeling as though everyone else is living a movie while you’re going through the motions. Take a moment to understand that most people use Facebook or Instagram as a highlight reel of their life.
You probably do the same. If you find you’re still comparing yourself to others too much online and you’re getting stressed by it, remember that using social media is optional.
More broadly, try for just one day to live your life without any concern about what others may or may not think. By doing what’s best for you – assuming, of course, there are no damaging consequences for others – you’ll find your mood and self-confidence will improve.
4) Practice meditation
Meditation can be enormously beneficial for your mental health.
You don’t need to devote huge chunks of time to this either. As little as ten minutes of meditation is enough to help you relieve stress and improve your emotional stability.
If you find the idea of meditation too passive or in any way unappealing, you could consider yoga instead. This is a more active approach to clearing your mind and grounding yourself while also promoting great joint health and flexibility.
There are many simple resources online or in your local library to help you get started without needing any equipment and without spending a cent.
5) Join an online support group
Life always ebbs and flows even when you’re in robust mental health. Everyone needs a support network for those days when life seems unmanageable.
If you’re struggling with a mental health condition, a strong and supportive network is doubly important.
For anyone lacking friends and family capable of filling this role, consider an online support group. Sometimes, you might not feel like opening up to a loved one face-to-face when you’re at your lowest point. Engaging with online support groups lets you pour out your feelings without feeling intimidated or ill at ease.
While you may not get all the benefits of meeting someone physically, online support groups are always available, so you’ll never be left alone without an avenue of comfort and support at your disposal.
6) Ask for help when you need it
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but many people struggling with mental health conditions find it very tough to admit things are getting unmanageable.
If you don’t feel able to ask your friends or family for help or a listening ear, consider contacting local services instead.
However you reach out and whoever you approach, learning that you don’t need to go it alone can help you to feel more in control rather than the opposite.
7) Start your days early and with purpose
How you start your day matters. Each day, you’ll be presented with many choices, the first of which is this: will you practice stress or practice peace?
Even if you’re not a natural morning person, rising early and embracing the day will put you in a more proactive and positive frame of mind. Attack the day on your terms and approach your day with intent.
8) Connect with people you love to be around
It’s in your nature to connect with others. There is an abundance of research showing the damaging consequences of loneliness and isolation on mental health.
Luckily, research also shows that healthy social relationships are beneficial for stress management and giving meaning to life.
If you have a mental health condition, you may spend lots of time alone. Don’t overlook the importance of socializing with your loved ones, though. Even if you don’t feel like the idea of meeting up with friends, this will change once you arrive!
9) Avoid using drink or drugs
Many people with mental health conditions self-medicate with drink or drugs. Roughly half of all those with substance use disorder also have co-occurring mental health conditions.
While using substances may provide short-term relief from the symptoms of depression or anxiety, it does nothing to address the root cause. Beyond this, substance abuse or alcohol abuse will inflame symptoms over time.
Even if drinking or using drugs has always been your default method of coping with the symptoms of your mental health condition, it’s not too late to stop. Engaging with dual diagnosis treatment will allow you to regain control of your life while proactively attacking both the issues ruining your quality of life.
10) Set realistic goals
Setting goals is valuable, but they should be realistic if you want to avoid continual disappointment.
Aim high, but keep your expectations realistic. Track your goals and reward yourself for achieving them.
By living a more purposeful life with clear markers in place, you can improve your mood and your outlook on life, while hopefully achieving even more than ever before.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment at Renaissance Recovery Center
We hope you’ve found today’s mental health tips useful. If you have depression, anxiety disorder, or any other mental health condition, this can be inflamed if you abuse drink or drugs.
For anyone suffering from both a substance use disorder and a mental health condition, we have dual diagnosis treatment programs to help you tackle both issues simultaneously.
Whatever the nature of your mental health condition or substance use disorder, we have personalized treatment programs to suit. Using medication-assisted treatment and psychotherapy, you’ll build a firm foundation for sustained recovery here at Renaissance. Call the friendly team at 866.330.9449 if you’re ready to take charge of your mental health.