Keep Your Mental Health in Check
By Lenny & Larry's. Posted on January 24, 2018.
In a world where it feels like crisis is always around the next corner, how can we avoid burnout or meltdown?
It feels as though the standards of today’s world are a lot higher than they were twenty – or even just ten – years ago, and there’s an ever-mounting pile of things we have to try and achieve in order to stay on top.
When it feels as though it’s all starting to get a little too much, it’s time to step back and check in with yourself.
So here are our top tips for keeping your mental health in check.
Get Enough Sleep
With so much to accomplish every day, it can be tempting to squeeze in a few extra hours to work at night too. But in the long run, it’s a really bad idea. Our bodies need sleep in order to function properly, and without adequate sleep, you’ll find things start running a lot less smoothly. Your digestion will slow (possibly leading to weight gain), hormones can fall out of whack, skin can become more easily irritated (and prone to breakouts), and most importantly – your head can start to suffer.
In the short term, a lack of sleep can also cause impaired memory, lack of alertness, and relationship stress due to moodiness. Overall quality of life lessens as you become less likely to participate in normal daily activities and exercise. Keep at it and things get even worse. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and more.
You might have read articles and stories about successful people who sleep as little as 4 hours a night, but this just constitutes 1-3% of the population. The average adult needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep to fully recharge. That's the range you should shoot for so you don't just survive, but thrive!
Eat a Healthier Diet
It’s no myth – food affects your mental health. That’s not to say that there’s one super nutrient which will prevent mental health decline, but a lack of the right nutrients will affect mental performance. It might seem most convenient to survive on fast food or quick fixes, but it’s not going to do your body or mind any good. The key is to eat more of certain things and less of others.
A well-balanced diet full of nutritious carbs, healthy protein, and lots of fruit and veggies will provide all the nutrients and energy your body and mind need to function optimally. You don't need to eliminate certain categories of food from your diet, but try to pick the healthiest options from each category. As a tip, you can monitor your food intake better by preparing your own meals or reading labels more carefully.
Get Fresh Air
Because most jobs are primarily done in front of a screen, it’s important to make sure you get some non-screen time too. Be sure you’re getting enough fresh air on lunch breaks, or find some time in the mornings and evenings for a quick walk. It’s amazing what a little outside air can do for your body and mind.
If you have the chance, take your work outside with you and be inspired and uplifted by new surroundings. If that's not possible, find some time on the weekends to get away and appreciate nature. You can go to a local park, hike on a nearby trail, or bike along the beach.
And when you can, take some time away from screens completely. It’s good to dedicate some time every day away from screens or tech of any kind and tune into the real world, whether it's being fully present with your loved ones or taking some time to meditate.
When there’s a lot on your plate, staying organized can make the difference between accomplishing and stressing. By organizing your time effectively, you can accomplish more than you normally would. Take advantage of the calendar and alert features on your smartphone so that you never miss an important event or task.
Keep track of everything, from your working hours (including breaks), to time with friends, and alone time too. Staying on top of all aspects of your life can really help you gain some mental clarity. You will be able to determine where and how you’re spending your time, which parts are weighing you down, which are lifting you up, and where you might need to make a change.
Sweat it Out!
After a tough long day, it can seem daunting to grab your sweats and head to the gym. But when you feel like you’re on the edge, this can actually be the best thing to chase away negative thoughts and feelings.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger feel good feelings in your brain. On top of that, sweating helps rid your body of nasty toxins that might also be causing a problem. This one-two punch for the benefit of your body and mind can really turn your day around and even bring a smile to your face. Still skeptical? Try scheduling one hour workouts at least three times a week for a month and see for yourself. Trust me, you won't want to stop!
Working out can function as much needed “me-time”, or you can even invite your friends to fulfill your social needs too. However you like to get your sweat on, realize that you will never have time for anything important unless you make time for it. Busy or not, do what you gotta do.
Life is full of ups and downs, and it's during the downs that we need the most inspiration. When we lack motivation ourselves, it's best to find it in others. Find a great podcast to listen to, an awesome YouTuber to watch, or somebody to follow on social media who inspires you.
Once you determine a direction to head towards, set some achievable goals along the way to keep you moving forward. Better yet, find a mentor or buddy that can journey with you; this could be somebody you know that you check in with or somebody you follow on social media that you aspire to be like. Regardless of what it is, the key is to have something you're excited about. If you're not sure what that might be, have an open mind, talk to people about what inspires them, and try new things.
If you find yourself getting weighed down by expectations (either your own or those of others), take a step away and find some time for self-care. You have several great options and whatever you end up choosing, make sure that it’s lifting you up and not weighing you down. Life is too short to live any other way.
Please be advised that this is only advice, and that if you have persistent feeling of sadness, loneliness, anxiety or depression you should seek medical help. Mental Illness is real, and no one should suffer in silence, and while these tips may help prevent symptoms, we are not claiming they are any kind of cure, and we encourage readers with persistent symptoms to always seek professional help.