How we behave, feel and act and present ourselves in society depends on our mental health, which also affects our performance in anything we do. Our mental health or the state of mind is the sum of our psychological, emotional, and social well-being. The way we manage stress, relate to others, and make choices is the outcome of our mental health. Mental health problems can occur from too much stress that we are unable to handle. It can have so much deep impact on our lives that it can even change the entire course of our lives.

To take proper care of your mental health that contributes to your wellness and well-being, start taking care of your mind by practicing mindfulness that can keep stress away. Here are some tips for caring for your mental health.

Stay connected – Loneliness is one of the major causes of mental stress. Be open-minded in interacting with people you come across and even saying hello to a stranger is good enough to develop a sense of belongingness to the community. Shyness often prevents people from free mixing, and they are more comfortable connecting with people over social media. They can use Instagram to release the stress by sharing photos and telling their stories through images to drive away depression and anxiety.

Prepare to sleep well – Good sleep for 7-8 hours daily is essential for good mental health. Prepare well before going to bed so that you create an environment that induces sleep. For example, about an hour or two before going to bed, stop looking at your mobile phone or other digital screens. Keep away all such gadgets away from your bedroom. Staying gadget-free will allow the sleep/wake hormones to work in their own ways and ensure that you sleep and wake up at fixed times.

Write down the easy to relax – Freeing your mind of all kinds of thoughts and being in the present is the best way to relax and de-stress. Write down some ways to relax with a positive feeling and go through a trial-and-error process to see what works and what does not, and practice the ones that work for you.

Find support – If you are struggling, open up and reach out for support. Extend a helping hand to someone who is struggling, and it will give you immense satisfaction of being useful to someone that generates a positive feeling.

Deep breathing – Sit comfortably with your legs folded and sit erect while taking in a slow deep breath in a relaxed way. Start from your belly and then expand through the upper part of the body, including the ribs, chest, and lungs.  Count 1-10 and gradually exhale. Repeat it five times and gradually increase the duration of each breath.

Exercise– Physical exercise is the best intervention for mental health. Aerobics are ideal home exercises that are fun and enjoyable while supporting good health. Similarly, dancing and cycling should help you fulfill your quota of daily exercise.

Reading – Reading helps to divert your attention from the stressful elements and provides relaxation and enjoyment. Whenever you feel stressed out, sit or lie down with a book or some reading material that you find interesting. Reading fiction is especially beneficial.

Meditate – Meditation calms down your mind by making it clutter-free from all unwanted thoughts that encircle you. Sit at a quiet place in your home, with legs folded and eyes fixed at some particular point like a candle flame.  Start concentrating on the flame while keeping your ears and other sense organs receptive to what is happening around you.  Gradually, you will develop the skills of detaching yourself from the surroundings while being aware of everything. As a result, you will feel relaxed and in control.

Driving – Since meditation is all about concentrating your mind on something with undivided attention, you can derive similar benefits while driving that demands complete concentration. Likewise, driving leads to mindfulness as your hands are always busy controlling the steering wheel by feeling it and moving it back and forth with a certain rhythm.

Follow quiet hours – Too much use of smartphones can be highly stressful due to unwanted intrusions. To find your own time when you can be with yourself so that you can spend some quiet time alone, activate the do not disturb feature of your phone and turn off notifications to stop intruders on their tracks.

Value yourself – Avoid self-criticism and treat yourself with respect and kindness. To discover your worth, fall back on your hobbies or some favorite projects that stretch the mental horizons and make a living more interesting and enjoyable with no room for any stress build-up.

Be in good company – Be in touch with like-minded people whose company you enjoy because of the positivity they exude.  Family and social connections with selective people stimulate the mind and inspire better living.  Engage in activities where you can meet people or plan for some family outing that rejuvenates the mind.

Gardening – Doing some gardening is good for your mental health as it allows you to see life from a different perspective and reduces stress. Paying close attention to the plants to ensure their good health will develop some empathy that calms down the mind and gives the pleasure of looking after the well-being of nature which is a fulfilling experience.

Be ready to help – Giving is a way to release your pent-up stress. Volunteer to help others by devoting your time and energy. Helping others meaningfully gives you a sense of achieving humanitarian gains as someone could benefit from it.   It is also a great way of meeting new people and making new friends.

Take a nature walk– Being among nature is a good way to realize the joys of living and a sure stress-buster. As you roam among nature and enjoy its beauty, you will forget the stress endured as the mind goes through a makeover.

Deal with stress– Instead of fretting about stress and becoming its victim, counter it head along by practicing some techniques like journal writing, playing with your pet and children, or doing Tai Chi, all great stress reducers. Always focus on the brighter side of life and engage in fun and laughter to eradicate stress and improve immunity.

Calm down your mind – Stress keeps the mind agitated. Exercising some control on your thoughts to weed out negativity can have a calming effect on the mind and helps to discover the pleasures of life.  Praying at some fixed hours of the day, doing yoga and meditation, and engaging in religious activities soothes the mind.

Set realistic goals – Be clear about what you want to achieve and life, personally and professionally, and set realistic goals. Avoid being over ambitious and take baby steps to taste success which then automatically breeds more success. 

Break the routine – Although following some routine is important, ensure that you include some breaks in it to avoid the monotony that can lead to stress. Taking periodical breaks when you turn your attention to things away from the routine can prevent stress build-up.

Restrict drugs, tobacco, and alcohol – Do not exceed your threshold when consuming alcohol and shun tobacco and drugs that only increase stress.

All the activities listed above should help you move towards positivity by keeping stress under control and helping you find inner peace.