Science-Backed Ways to Improve your Mental Health
People are much more likely to talk about mental health these days than they were a few years ago and for good reason. According to the health agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health--World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the No. 1 condition causing disability worldwide, affecting more than 350 million individuals. Anxiety disorders are extremely prevalent.; in the United States alone, an estimated 40 million adults suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. Clearly, it's time we start paying attention to our mental health and doing what we can to improve it. Here we are going to discuss some science-backed ways to improve your mental health.
What is mental health and why is it important?
Mental health is a general term we use to describe our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It includes our ability to cope with the stress of everyday life, our relationships with others, and how we think and also feel about ourselves. Mental health is important because it impacts everything from our physical health to our ability to function in society.
There are several factors that contribute and affect mental health. Genetics play a role, as do our early life experiences and the environment we live in. It can also be affected by chronic illnesses or disabilities, substance abuse, trauma, and more.
While mental illness is often thought of as something that only affects a small portion of the population, the truth is that mental health problems are actually pretty common. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one out of five adults in the United States experiences a mental health disorder each year. In Canada, the rate is even higher, with one in three people expected to have a mental health concern like anxiety at some point in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, mental health disorders are often left untreated. In the U.S., only 41 percent of adults with a mental health disorder receive treatment. In Canada, the number is even lower, with only one-third of people getting the help they need. This is a problem because mental health problems can have a serious impact on our lives. untreated, they can lead to relationship problems, job loss, substance abuse, and even suicide.
Despite how common mental health disorders are, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding them. This stigma can make it challenging for people to seek help and treatment. It can also lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The good thing is that there are various ways you may do to boost your mental well-being. Keep reading to learn about 12 science-backed ways to do just that.
Feelings are not what mental health is all about.
Mental health is often seen as a black and white issue – you either have it or you don’t. But this isn’t accurate. Mental health is a spectrum--everyone falls somewhere on it. And, just like our physical health, it is something that can fluctuate over time. There may be times when you feel great, and other times when you feel not so great. That’s normal.
What isn’t normal is if you feel like your mental health is consistently bad or if you experience a sudden decrease in your mental well-being. If this happens, it’s important to seek professional help.
There are various kinds of mental health experts, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and therapists. They can help you get a clear picture of your condition. They may also be able to provide you with an accurate diagnosis. and create a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs.
Most common mental health issues
There are several distinct kinds of mental illness, each with its own set of symptoms and intensity. Some of the most common include:
1. Anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders are diagnosed by a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. It may be feelings of excessive worry, nervousness, and fear. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder are examples of common anxiety problems.
2. Depressive disorders
Depressive disorders are characterized by persistent hopelessness, feelings of sadness, and worthlessness. Major depressive disorder (MDD), persistent depressive disorder (PDD), and bipolar disorder are examples of depressive disorders.
3. Eating disorders
Eating disorders, on the other hand, are characterized by abnormal eating habits that can impact a person's physical health. Anorexia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa are examples of common eating disorders.
4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
OCD is characterized by repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that a person feels they cannot control.
5. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is characterized by intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance of anything that triggers memories of a traumatic event.
Science-Backed Ways to Improve your Mental Health
Mental health is an crucial component of our overall well-being. Yet, for many people, mental health can be a challenge to manage. Luckily, science has given us some clues on how we can improve our mental health. Here are science-backed ways to boost your mental health!
1. Get enough sleep.
We all know that getting an adequate, restful sleep is vital for our general health, but it's also paramount for our mental health. Sleep deprivation can cause problems with concentration, memory, and mood. It can also make anxiety and depression worse. So if you are lacking enough sleep, make sure to get some shut-eye.
2. Eat healthily.
What we eat affects our physical health, but it also has an impact on our mental health. Eating a healthy diet can help improve mood and cognitive function. Some specific foods that have been linked to better mental health include omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and nuts), leafy greens, and probiotics (found in yogurt and fermented foods).
3. Get regular exercise
We all know that regular exercise and properly executed exercise is beneficial to our physical health, but did you know it’s also good for our mental health? Research has proven that exercise has been shown to improve mood, increase self-esteem, and reduce stress and anxiety. It is not only good for our physical health but also for our mental health. It has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase cognitive function. So make sure to get some exercise every day!
Aerobic exercise is especially beneficial because it increases the level of endorphins – feel-good chemicals that have been shown to improve mood – in the brain. But any type of exercise will do the trick.
4. Spend time with friends and family.
Social relationships are important for our mental health. Spending time with loved ones can reduce stress, improve mood, and increase feelings of self-worth and belonging.
We are social creatures, so it is not a surprise that social connection is important for our mental health. As a matter of fact, a lack of social connection and belonging can lead to problems such as depression and anxiety. So make sure to stay connected with family and friends or join a club or community group!
5. Take care of your mind and body.
Mindfulness is a popular practice that helps us focus on the present moment and be more aware of our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness, according to several studies, has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and boost cognitive function. So make sure to take some time for mindfulness every day!
6. Get help from your family.
If you're struggling with your mental health, don't be afraid to reach out to your family for help. Family support can be extremely helpful in managing mental health challenges.
7. Take care of your physical health.
Physical health and mental health are two components of our well-being that are closely linked. Taking care of your physical health can help improve your mental health and vice versa. Make sure to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. If you have a chronic medical condition, make sure to manage it as best as you can.
8. Reduce stress.
Stress can have a negative and significant impact on our mental and physical health. So it's important to find ways to reduce stress in our lives. Some ways to reduce stress include relaxation techniques, exercise, and time management.
9. Challenge yourself.
Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can be daunting, but it’s also beneficial for your mental health. Challenging yourself helps you build self-confidence and mastery – two things that are essential for good mental health. So do not be afraid and step out of your comfort zone or try new things!
10. Do something you enjoy.
Doing things you enjoy – whether it’s painting, hiking, or playing a musical instrument – can help minimize stress, boost mood, and increase feelings of self-worth. So be sure to schedule some time for activities you enjoy every week!
11. Seek professional help if you need it.
If you're struggling with your mental health, don't be afraid to seek professional help. A therapist can help you understand and manage your thoughts and feelings. If you are unsure where to start, you can search for a therapist online or ask your doctor for a referral.
12. Have a positive outlook.
Having an optimistic outlook on life can help improve your mental health. Positive thinking has been linked to better mood, increased resilience, and improved cognitive function. So make sure to focus on the positive things in your life!
There are many other science-backed ways to improve mental health. But these are ten of the most important ones. So start incorporating them into your life today, and you'll be on your way to a healthier mind!
Signs that you may need help and how to get help
If you are experiencing any of the following signs, it may be time to seek professional help:
feeling hopeless or helpless
having suicidal thoughts
engaging in self-destructive behaviours
withdrawing from friends and activities
losing interest in things or activities you used to enjoy
feeling numb or disconnected from your emotions
experiencing changes in your eating or sleeping habits
having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
feeling excessively anxious or irritable
These are just some of the signs and symptoms that you may need help. These may vary from person to person, and they can change over time. But again, if you are unsure whether or not you need help, it is always best to consult with a professional.
Where to start
There are plenty of resources to assist you if you are having trouble coping with your mental health. Here are some places to start:
Your family doctor
Your primary care provider can help you and refer you to a mental health professional you might need. It could be a career counselor, a marriage and family therapist, a psychiatrist, or any other type of mental health specialist.
Your employer’s employee assistance program (EAP)
Many employers offer an EAP, which is a free or low-cost counseling service for employees and their families. Check with your HR department to see if your employer offers this benefit.
Your insurance company
Many insurance companies have lists of mental health providers that they cover. You can also search for providers that accept your insurance online.
Mental health organizations and support groups
There are many mental health organizations that can provide resources and support. Some examples in Canada include the Canadian Mental Health Association, Kids Help Phone, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
If you are in crisis, please talk to someone immediately, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. If you' are in pain and want to end your life, call a suicide hotline in your country:
In Canada: Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566
In the United States: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
In the United Kingdom: Samaritans at 116 123
In Australia: Lifeline at 13 11 14
It is not unusual for anyone to have a mental health emergency. If you have not heard of it before, it is a term used to describe a time when someone is experiencing intense mental distress. This can include having a panic attack, feeling helpless, or thinking about the only escape to problems is death. If you experience any of this, please reach out for help! There are also other resources that may be available to you, and you don't have to struggle alone, please seek help through this tough time.
Seek help from a trusted friend or family member, your doctor, a mental health professional, or an organization dedicated to mental health. Remember, you are not alone!
How to support and help someone who is struggling with mental health
If you know someone who is struggling with mental health, there are many ways you can help them. Here are some tips:
1. Be there for them.
Make sure to be available for your friend or family members when they need you. Listen to them and offer support.
2. Help them get help.
If they are struggling, encourage them to seek professional help. You can also offer to assist them find resources or make appointments.
3. Check in with them regularly.
Make sure to check in with your friend or family member on a regular basis, even if they seem to be doing better. This will show that you care and are there for them if they need you.
4. Be respectful of their privacy.
Respect your friend or family member's privacy and do not share their information without their permission.
5. Offer to help with practical tasks.
If your family member or a friend is struggling, offer to help with practical tasks like groceries or child care. This can take some of their burdens off of them and make their life a little easier.
So, what can you do if somebody in your life is struggling with mental health? From lending a listening ear to providing resources and support, there are many ways that you can help. Mental health is an important issue, and we should all be doing our part to support those who are suffering. Thanks for reading!
The stigma around mental health and how to break it down
There is still a lot of stigma around mental health, which can make it difficult for people to seek help. Here are some ways you can help break down the stigma:
1. Talk about it.
One of the best ways to break down the stigma around mental health is to talk about it openly and honestly. This helps normalize the conversation and makes it easier for people to seek help.
Conversations do not need to be about serious topics all the time. You can talk about your mental health in everyday conversations, such as how you are feeling or how your day is going.
2. Be open about your own experiences.
If you feel comfortable, share your own experiences with mental health with others. This can help them feel less alone and more understood. Remember, we all go through tough times, and it is okay to not be okay.
3. Educate yourself and others.
Mental health is often misunderstood. Make sure to educate yourself and others about what mental health is and how it can affect people. This can help break down stereotypes and myths about mental health.
You don't even have to be educated in a formal setting; simply having conversations with others about mental health can help educate them.
4. Be respectful and understanding.
When talking about mental health, be respectful and understanding towards those who are struggling. This includes using proper language and avoiding stereotypes. When we say proper language, this means using person-first language. For example, instead of saying "he is depressed," say "he has depression disorder." Stereotypes on the other hand would be saying things like "all people with mental illness are dangerous." or "Mental illness is just an excuse for bad behaviour."
5. Show support.
If you know someone who is struggling with mental health, show them your support. This can make a world of difference for them. And it might encourage others to do the same. If we all work together to break down the stigma around mental health, we can make it easier for people to seek help and feel understood. Let's start the conversation today!
6. Challenge the stigma and negative attitudes.
If you hear someone talking about or saying negative comments about mental health, challenge those attitudes. It is important to stand up for those who are struggling with mental health and to make sure that they are not being made to feel ashamed or embarrassed.
So, stand up to stigma, if you see someone being stigmatized for their mental health, speak up! This can be difficult, but it is important to stand up to discrimination. Showing others that you are an ally can help create a more supportive environment for everyone.
7. Check your biases.
We all have biases, but it is important to check them when it comes to mental health. For example, you might have a bias that people with mental illness are dangerous or unpredictable. However, this is not always the case. People with mental health concerns are more likely to be victims of violence than aggressors or perpetrators of it.
8. Accompany them to see professional help if they need it.
Offer to accompany a loved one or close friend who is having trouble with mental illness to see a therapist. This can make them feel understood and less isolated. It might also help them to take the first step in getting the help they need.
9. Take care of yourself too.
Remember to take care of yourself too. When we are taking good care of our mental health, it can be easy to forget about our physical health. Make sure to eat healthy, be with friends, exercise, and get enough sleep. All of these things can help improve our mental health.
10. Reach out and engage with individuals who think similarly to you.
It can be helpful to reach out and engage with individuals who think similarly to you. This can help build a sense of community and support. When we try to challenge the stigma alone, it can be difficult and stressful and can even affect your own mental health. But when we feel supported, it can make all the difference.
Mental health is an important issue
Mental health is a vital issue that should be given more attention. If we all work together to break down the stigma and provide support, we can make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling.
Break down the stigma around mental health
It's critical to break down the stigma surrounding mental health in order to encourage people to get the treatment they need.
Take care of your mental health!
Mental health is a hot topic right now and for good reason- it is something that we might experience at some point in our lives. Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your own mental health or want to help a loved one, these science-backed tips should be a great place to start.
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