5 wellness hack for your mental health

In today’s world, it’s easy to lose track of your mental health. Between working, socializing, exercising and taking care of your loved ones — not to mention the never-ending onslaught of information from social media — there often seems to be little time left for yourself.

But this isn’t just a problem for introverts who find it hard to step away from their inboxes. It can affect anyone.

According to Mental Health America, In 2017-2018, 19% of adults experienced a mental illness, an increase of 1.5 million people from the previous year’s dataset.

With mental health disorders on the rise, it’s imperative for everyone to start focusing on their mental health and well-being.

Fortunately, there are several wellness hacks that you can start incorporating into your life that will put you on the path to improving your mental health.

Here are five powerful wellness hacks to improve your mental health and also have a positive impact on those around you as well!

1. Eat Well

It’s become generally accepted that what we put into our bodies has a direct effect on how we think and feel.

For example, if one day you decided to suddenly binge out on Hershey bars, you are most likely going to feel sick and/or miserable shortly afterwards.

This is because of something called the mind-body connection. You might have heard this term before.

The mind-body connection means that the body and brain are connected through neural pathways. These neural pathways are made up of hormones, neurotransmitters, and chemicals.

These neural pathways transport signals between the brain and body which carry out everyday functions, such as breathing, movement, sensory signals, digestion, and much much more.

So, if you eat something unhealthy, your gut is going to transmit that signal to the brain. In a sense, your gut will tattle on you.

So, next time you are trying to decide what to eat, don’t ask yourself “what is going to taste good?”, instead ask yourself “what is going to make me feel good?”

Focus on eating foods that will not only nourish your body, but your brain as well. 

“Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.” – Hippocrates

2. Get Regular Exercise

The importance of exercise on mental health cannot be overemphasized. It strengthens the mind-body connection by improving our emotional well-being, handling stress and dealing with depression, regulating mood swings and improving sleep quality.

In fact, there are several studies that show that regular exercise can be beneficial for mental health.

Here are some of the benefits on mental health:

  • Mood – Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin, which can improve mood and help with depression.
  • Confidence – Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and self-worth.
  • Sleep – Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia.
  • Social connections – Physical activity has been linked to more social connections and improved personal relationships.
  • Self-esteem – Regular exercise is often associated with improved self-esteem, body image, and a better sense of control over one’s life.
  • Quality of life – Studies have found that regular physical activity is associated with a higher quality of life than those who do not exercise regularly.

One of the reasons why exercise can be so beneficial is that it releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This chemical is related to support and growth of new neurons and synapses.

It’s important to find an exercise routine that suits your lifestyle needs while also considering special considerations like physical limitations or injuries.

You should also pick an exercise that can easily fit into your daily routine and won’t be too strenuous. This way you will look forward to exercising and after a while it will become a daily habit.

Adding a healthy diet to your fitness routine will further enhance the benefits of exercise on mental health. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine and see for yourself how beneficial exercise can be on your mental and physical health.

3. Prioritize Sleep

Most people understand the impact that sleep has on their mental health. I’m sure you’ve had an overly optimistic coworker tell you “looks like somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed”.

While this colloquial saying is always annoying to hear, especially from a co-worker, they’re usually right. A poor night’s sleep can have a negative impact on one’s mood and mental health.

This is why it’s so important to prioritize sleep. Poor sleep quality has been linked to various mental health disorders, such as:

  1. Depression
  2. Seasonal Affective Disorder
  3. Anxiety
  4. Bipolar
  5. Schizophrenia
  6. ADHD
  7. Autism

Now, it’s important to note that mental health disorders can disrupt sleep, and poor sleep can worsen mental health disorders.

The best way to improve sleep is to improve sleep habits. Before you go to bed, it’s important to cultivate a sleep environment that is conducive to a good night’s rest.

Here are some tips to create a good sleep environment:

  • Sleep in darkness
  • Keep temperatures cool
  • Avoid watching TV or Phone prior to sleep
  • Turn off phone notifications

4. Practice Mindfulness

Meditation, more than anything else, has had the greatest impact on my mental health. In the past few years, I have been meditating on a consistent basis and my life has steadily improved ever since.

I’m sure you have already heard about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, but let me assure you, meditation is something that you must experience to truly understand.

You may think mindfulness is time-consuming or that it requires a silent room. While it is helpful to be in a quiet environment, you can still meditate or be mindful just by taking five minutes for yourself everyday.

If you feel like you don’t have a lot of time to devote to mindfulness, you might be surprised. Yes, to get the full benefits of mindfulness it requires dedication, but that doesn’t mean your practice can’t be as simple as finding a few minutes to center yourself or breathe deeply.

You can also use mindfulness as a way to de-stress during a break in your busy schedule.

One of the most common reasons people turn to meditation is to find relief from depression and/or anxiety. 

Fortunately, mindfulness has been shown to be effective for people suffering from depression and anxiety.

In fact, research shows that people who practiced mindfulness for six to nine months experienced a 60% reduction in stress and anxiety levels.

Additionally, studies show that mindfulness meditation reduces insomnia by 50%.

Wondering how to start? You’re in luck. There are many ways to get into meditation and mindfulness practice. Whether you choose an app-based platform, some YouTube videos, or a Spotify playlist, you can find something to suit your needs.

The most important thing is just to start. And remember, like any new skill, meditation takes deliberate practice

The more you practice, the easier it will become. 

5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

In our modern age with smartphones and social media, it’s getting increasingly difficult not to compare ourselves to others.

Social media platforms allow people to showcase their lives with carefully curated, often photoshopped, pictures and videos to their friends, family, and the rest of humanity. 

While social media is great for connecting people all around the world, it’s not so great for presenting people’s lives in an accurate way.

This is why heavy social media use is often linked with poor mental health. In fact, studies have linked social media use to anxiety, depression, lower self-esteem, poorer sleep quality, and more.

This is largely due to social comparison, which is when we derive our self through comparing ourselves to others.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

—Theodore Roosevel

How do we stop comparing ourselves to others?

It starts with gratitude. It’s almost impossible to experience negative emotions when we are feeling gratitude.

This is why I always encourage my friends and family to start a gratitude journal. All it takes is a few moments every day to write down all of the things that you are grateful for.

Practicing this everyday will start to shift your attention away from other people’s lives and redirect your attention back to your life, where it belongs.

This will lead to greater contentment and life satisfaction. And most importantly, it will allow you to take back your power so you can focus on creating the life that fulfills you.