Mental health is like the quiet backbone of our overall well-being. We often don’t notice it until something feels off. But similar to how we make time to exercise or eat healthy foods, it’s vital to nurture our minds, too.
According to 2019 statistics shared by WHO, over 970 million people worldwide were living with a mental health complication. In 2021, 57.8 million Americans were said to be suffering from a mental illness. As we navigate through 2023, life continues to throw new challenges our way.
With the fast-paced nature of our world, taking steps to ensure our mental well-being is in check has never been more crucial. This article will walk you through eight practical tips to help you thrive mentally this year and beyond.
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How to Improve Your Mental Health in 2023?
1. Seek Professional Therapy
It’s common for people to think of therapy as a last resort, something to turn to only when one’s mental health complications become uncontrollable. But in reality, therapy is a useful tool for everyone, regardless of the magnitude of their struggles. Consider it as a regular check-up but for your mind.
One of the many types of therapy out there is called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT. This cognitive behavioral therapy was originally designed to help those who struggle with self-harming behaviors. But over time, professionals realized it’s an incredible way to teach people skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflicts in relationships.
DBT is like a toolkit for your emotions and thoughts. If you ever feel overwhelmed or struggling with intense and difficult emotions, seeking a professional who can guide you through DBT or any other form of therapy can be a worthwhile start. Undergoing DBT therapy for self-harm behaviors is advised if they don’t tend to lessen or become uncontrollable.
2. Incorporate Mindfulness and Meditation
When our days get busy, our minds can feel like they’re in a whirlwind of thoughts, tasks, and worries. It’s like a radio playing loud music non-stop. Mindfulness and meditation are ways to turn down the volume and find some quiet.
So, what’s mindfulness? It’s about being fully present in the moment. It means enjoying your food bite by bite or listening to a friend without thinking about what you’re going to say next. This simple practice can help reduce stress because it pulls you out of past regrets and future worries and anchors you in the present.
And meditation? It’s like a short vacation for your mind. Even a few minutes of sitting quietly and focusing on your breath can instantly refresh your mind. Don’t worry about doing it “right.” It’s more about finding a quiet moment for yourself. Over time, you might find your mood becomes better and your stress levels drop.
3. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Routine
We all know the groggy feeling after a bad night’s sleep. But sleep does more than recharge our batteries. It plays a significant role in our mental well-being. Getting enough rest helps our minds process the events of the day, manage emotions, and keep stress in check.
Setting and adhering to a regular bedtime and wake-up time is an incredible first step, even on weekends. It might be tempting to stay up late and sleep in, but keeping a steady routine helps our body’s internal clock. That way, falling asleep becomes easier, and waking up feels less like a chore.
Remember, your bed should be a place for rest. So, if you find yourself tossing and turning, it might be a worthwhile idea to leave the bedroom and do something relaxing like painting, reading a book, or listening to calming music. Then, when you feel sleepy, head back to bed.
4. Cultivate a Strong Social Network
People are social beings. We thrive when we’re connected to others. Think about how you feel after a good chat with a friend. Lighter, right? Friendships and relationships act as a safety net. When life gets tough, it’s these bonds that often pull us through.
Being social doesn’t mean you need a big group of friends. Quality matters more than quantity. Start by spending more time with people who make you feel good. Listen to them, and let them listen to you. If you feel you don’t have many people around, consider joining groups or clubs with shared interests. Remember, it’s never too late to make a new friend.
5. Limit Exposure to Negativity and News Overconsumption
Information is everywhere these days. While it’s good to be informed, too much news, especially if it’s negative, can weigh heavy on our minds. If you ever feel overwhelmed or anxious after reading the news, it might be time for a break.
Try setting specific times to check the news, maybe once in the morning and once in the evening. Avoid constantly refreshing news apps or websites. When you do read, choose trusted sources that present facts in a balanced way. And if something bothers you, talk about it with someone you trust. Sharing can help ease the load.
6. Prioritize Physical Health and Exercise
Your body and mind are teammates. When one is in perfect shape, it helps the other. Physical activity isn’t just about building muscles or staying slim. It releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel happier and more relaxed.
You don’t need to run marathons or lift heavy weights. Find something you enjoy. It could be dancing, walking, cycling, or even gardening. The goal is to move a bit more than you did yesterday. As you make it a regular habit, you’ll likely notice you feel better overall.
7. Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate Small Wins
Everyone has goals and aspirations. But sometimes, thinking about big goals can feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s a viable idea to break them into smaller steps. These mini-goals are easier to achieve and can keep you motivated.
Let’s say you want to learn a new skill. Instead of setting a goal like “Become an expert in 3 months,” try “Practice for 10 minutes every day.” Every time you achieve a mini-goal, give yourself a pat on the back.
8. Learn the Art of Saying “No”
Sometimes, the biggest pressure comes from trying to do too much. It’s important to understand your limits. If you feel stretched thin or if something doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to say no. Protecting your time and energy is vital for your mental well-being.
It can be hard, especially if you don’t want to disappoint others. But remember, by saying no to some things, you’re saying yes to your well-being. Over time, you’ll find it becomes easier, and people will respect your boundaries.
Taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. The steps mentioned above aren’t secrets.
They’re simple, everyday actions that can help build a strong foundation for your mental health. While 2023 brings new challenges, with the right tools, you can face them with confidence and optimism.
Every day is a chance to nurture your mental well-being. Focus on improving it and watch it flourish.