Article by Trevor McDonald
There’s a method to feel your absolute best and make the most out of this sunny weather: besides working on sculpting a swimsuit body, you should make a note to keep your mental health in shape as well. Keep reading below to learn five effective ways below to improve your mental health this summer:
1. Give up bad habits
Our lives are built on habits, so naturally, having good habits help us create a healthy life. Bad habits, on the other hand, negatively impact our health in the long-run. For example, if smoking cigarettes after coming home from work is the way you wind down from a busy work shift, you put yourself at risk for suffering multiple respiratory cancers, early blindness, gum disease, and shortening your lifespan – all of which are not worth compromising for the sake of temporary relaxation. In the moment, it may not seem like much – smoking one cigarette – but when reflected upon in the bigger picture, the negatives of the action far outweigh the pros. To eliminate a bad habit, replace it with a good one that improves your health. In this case, if you want to relax after a long shift, pick up a book or go for a walk rather than smoke a cigarette!
2. Develop a relationship with yourself
The most important relationship to have in life is the one with yourself. Therefore, learn how to acknowledge and recognize your needs and invest time in daily self-care. Also, you should always be compassionate and kind to yourself, not critical or have an inner voice of blame. Think of it this way: do you treat yourself like you would a best friend? Just like you would want the well-being and happiness of a friend or family member, that same love should be demonstrated for yourself too.
3. Find ways to express your thoughts and feelings in a creative manner
Sometimes, the words and feelings experienced on a bad day can never be clearly articulated or are uncomfortable to speak about aloud, so implementing a creative outlet like painting or drawing to cope with them can soothe the emotional tension instead. Alternatively, you can free-write – which means to write without worry of grammar, spelling, or another person’s opinion – to express whatever is in your mind in a journal (or piece of paper). Subsequently, you can reread entries when you need to look back and reflect on past circumstances to find better ways to approach them in the future.
4. Use healthy coping mechanisms for stress
Take a moment to reflect on your current coping mechanisms. Do they make the stress feel worse or ease it? Examples of unhealthy coping strategies include drinking alcohol, spending money, or gambling. They may distract and numb the pain of stress, but they do not help you acknowledge or face a stressor itself. In fact, they’re harmful actions that affect your well-being! Opt for choosing strategies that provide relief in a healthy way, like meditation or spending time with friends – so that when ready, you’re able to confront sources of stress with a clear state of mind rather than anxiety.
5. Commit to eating clean and exercising
Eating clean and exercising are always going to do wonders for your mental health! Nutritious food and wholesome food, like eggs, turkey, and salmon contain the amino acid, tryptophan, which converts into serotonin, the hormone that regulates mood and helps you get a better night’s sleep. Exercising, on the other hand, kick-starts the production of endorphins and dopamine, the body’s natural painkilling chemicals that reduce stress and lower the pain response.