Mental health is defined as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. But for every lay person, their well-being can mean different things, - it could be destress from work, it could be burn-out, it could be a messy breakup, it could be low performance, it could be a fight with a friend, it could be fear of the future, or even the worldly situation right now, COVID-19 - however, no matter how different and difficult these situations may be, taking care of your mental health can be easy.
We usually pass each day without thinking twice about these situations, because they seem so regular and routine, like for an athlete muscle pain is a regular occurrence, part of the trade, however, this does not stop them from getting a regular physical checkup, or signing up for massage, acupuncture, or cupping therapy, or even taking time off. Similarly, one requires a routine “mental check-up”. Now let me clarify, mental check-ups here, do not mean screening tests for a mental illness, instead, by mental check-up I mean to peak into your emotional, psychological, and social state in order to achieve subjective well-being. Much like getting an x-ray because of pain in your arm does not conclude you have a fracture, and is only done so your arm can function to its full potential; Similarly, checking up on your mental health does not mean you have a mental illness, it is done so you can take the necessary steps to being able to function to your full capacity, and the good news for many of you is that it is not a must that you have to visit the psychologist you dread so much, and won’t even dream of visiting in order to take care of your mental health, because, you can do it on your own. How?, you might ask?
TIPS TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
1. Acknowledge that you need to take care of your mental health.
Before you can start off with any self-help, you must have some self-awareness. Being aware that you need help, that what you are going through is overwhelming, will make it easier for you to get better.
2. Identify what is affecting your mental health
Many times we know we are not feeling too good, but are unaware of what is causing it. Track back into your moments like your living the day backwards, and figure out at what point did you start feeling this way. This will help you understand the situation, or person that is responsible, they are called stressors.
3. Try avoiding those stressors. (if you can)
Some stressors - a party, certain acquaintances, certain relatives, situations that are not your routine - are avoidable. So if you can, then avoiding them till you can face them again (because you can’t avoid them forever), would help you be able to focus on improving your mental health.
4. Some situations are not as easily avoidable
Stressors at work/ school, your home, your close friends, are not as easily avoidable. These are the people you see on a regular basis. At this point of time, it is important for you to get a clear understanding of what is causing you distress, conversations with the said party can help. But if you feel it is something you can not handle on your own, it is advisable to visit a psychologist, or a counsellor for extra help and information.
5. Change in lifestyle and Exercise
Changing your lifestyle does not mean being a minimalist. Simply identify aspects of your life that you think is unnecessary and can undergo change, - the time you wake up or go to bed, (for work from home) the place in your house that you work at, the type of music you listen to, having breakfast in the morning - no matter how small.
Exercise is another activity that you can do that will keep you active and refreshed. You do not have to be the most athletic person, you could take up yoga, some sort of outdoor sport, even some stretching could do wonders.
6. Eat and sleep
It is important to keep a healthy eating habit, to eat well and regularly. Do not miss the most important meal of the day - Breakfast. Pay attention to your routine, and try not to skip your three meals, and always stay hydrated. If you are dieting or exercising, take advice from a dietitian or your gym instructor.
Sleep is the most important aspect of your life, even if you are a night owl. It does not matter at what time of the day/night you sleep, however it is important you receive 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, this allows your brain to replenish dopamine that allows you not only to function well the whole day, but concentrate, keep you engaged, and most important not irritated the whole day.
7. TAKE BREAKS and Make time for your hobbies
It is very important that you take time off, not just when you are feeling under the weather, but also the other days, this helps in not only improving your mental health, but also maintaining it. Take a break from your regular activities to do things that you have not done before, or things you no longer have time doing, take this time to relax your mind, and your body. Remember this time is “YOU TIME”. It is also advisable to practice your hobbies every once-in-a-while, these are things that interest you, and participating in these activities is what keeps you happy.
These are a few things that you can do on your own to take care of your mental health. However, if you are experiencing distress for a long period of time - more than a week - it is highly advisable to book an appointment with a psychologist.