“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” –Benjamin Franklin
January is Mental Wellness month, and after the whirlwind that is the holiday season, most of us are ready to take a little “me” time. Maybe it’s a resolution you’re ready to tackle, or maybe you just need a break to reset. A healthy state of well-being is the catalyst needed to cope with the many stressors of life. Relationships, financial issues, and work can put your mental well-being at risk, but acquiring the skills to improve mental wellness can help safeguard against the effects of life’s difficulties.
Below are some tips for improved mental wellness, from Mental Health America, and the International Association of Insurance Professionals:
- Connect with others. Research shows that having a solid network of supportive relationships in your life results in increased happiness, better health, and a longer life.
- Develop a positive attitude to cope with hard times. Easier said than done when life throws you curve ball after curve ball! However, training your mind to become more positive can result in a happier and more fulfilling life. Researchers agree that journaling and recounting difficult events leads to better health and less depression.
- Laugh. Go see your favorite comedian. Binge-watch your favorite sitcom. Hang out with your witty bestie. Laughing decreases pain and promotes muscle relaxation.
- Love yourself. Justin Bieber was right. Focus on your positive attributes, and learn to laugh at your mistakes and learn from them. Don’t beat yourself up, no one’s perfect.
- Exercise regularly and eat well. This doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or only eat rabbit food. Take a walk around your neighborhood, skip dessert occasionally—start small. Yoga and meditation are also great exercises for mental wellness. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which interact with the receptors in your brain to trigger a positive feeling.
- Get plenty of sleep. Adults ages 18-64 require 7-9 hours of sleep per night, 65 and over, 7-8 hours. Taking naps has several benefits as well. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 20-30 minutes for short-term alertness. This type of nap improves attentiveness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy, or interfering with nighttime sleep.
- Pursue professional help if necessary. You don’t have to be in a crisis to benefit from therapy. Consider it maintenance for your mental well-being. Counseling helps you learn coping strategies and problem-solving skills, and helps ensure that your mental well-being is sustained.
This year, resolve to take care of yourself. Mental wellness is an essential part of your overall health. Addressing your mental wellness NOW will result in greater preparation for life’s inevitable challenges, as well as a happier, balanced existence!
Author: Aubree’ Parent, M.S., CCC-SLP