Mental health is more in the national spotlight than ever before. The pandemic examined how isolation can boost levels of depression and anxiety, as millions were forced to stay in their homes and avoid human contact with the outside world. It’s not something to be taken lightly, and poor mental health can affect all aspects of your overall health as well if not addressed quickly.
Before you get to the point where you or anyone you know needs to utilize serious treatment options, like a residential treatment facility or troubled youth programs, there are ways to improve your mental health at home that will have both short and long-term benefits for your health.
This isn’t a small issue in America or beyond. Mental health issues affect a wide variety of people. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults is living with a mental illness of some kind. That accounted for almost 53 million Americans in 2020.
But even if you already deal with a mental illness, there are ways to improve your overall mental health at home. If you suffer from sensory overload at home or in public, there are some innovative ways to combat excessive sounds or light, such as implementing blackout shades.
For more general mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety, a simple change of environment can go a long way as well. In this blog, we’re breaking down five simple, easy ways to improve your mental health at home, and some may be easier than you think. Keep reading to see how you can provide yourself with relief today.
1. Spend More Time Outside
Reconnecting with nature can be a fun and relieving way to break up the monotony of your life. A long walk or hike outdoors can put into perspective the important things in life, and provide a haven from the stresses of work, responsibilities at home or in school, or simply to get out of the house.
Large amounts of screen time can hurt your sleep and lead to sedentary behavior, which can have negative effects on your mental health day in and day out. Taking a day out of the week to get more in tune with nature can lower your stress levels and boost your overall happiness. Exercise lowers stress as well, and has a slew of positive effects on your physical health. Your mind and body will both thank you.
2. Don’t Keep It Inside
Talking to someone about the issues you’re facing can relieve some of the pent-up stress of dealing with these issues yourself. Having a fresh and objective take on your problems can provide clarity that is blocked by your own judgment or habits. This will allow you to not feel so alone with your thoughts, and provide a safe feeling of confidentiality as another human can share your troubles with you.
Others can help you find productive and healthy solutions to your problems or feelings, which could eliminate potential destructive behavior or negative coping mechanisms. When in doubt, talk it out with someone you trust.
3. Allocate More Time To Sleep
Getting adequate amounts of sleep will go a long way in improving your mood, productivity, ability to take problems in stride, and more. Try going to sleep a few hours early and see how much better you feel the next morning. For those dealing with mental health issues, sleep often is affected first. Your mind is racing, you’re thinking of all the possible scenarios of any situation as your anxiety won’t let up at night.
This is a dangerous cycle, as you spend all night thinking of your problems, then spend all day sleep-deprived. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, try eliminating screens from your before-bedtime routine. Designate a relaxing before-sleep schedule, which could include reading, to calm your mind before calling it a night. Get in a consistent sleep routine and stick to it, and your mental health will thank you.
4. Improve Your Eating Habits
Believe it or not, what you put in your body has a direct impact on how you feel, both physically and mentally. Unhealthy foods full of sugar and caffeine can provide short-term relief and good feelings, but later leave us wiped and crashed.
Eating a balanced diet will go a long way in improving your mental health. It can improve your attention span and mood, and help you fight feelings of fatigue or depression. As told by Harvest Health, like an expensive car, your brain runs best on the best fuel grade you can get. Eating healthy food, and conversely, avoiding unhealthy foods and drinks, has a direct impact on your mental health.
Try eating healthier, and sharing meals with people you love and trust. This will give you something to look forward to and make you feel better afterward.
5. Cut Back On Social Media
Take an extended break from the virtual world and turn your attention to the real one. This non-stop flow of information and media that humans consume daily can be extremely harmful to your mental health. It can cause feelings of comparison, as you see the highlights of people’s lives, travels, and accomplishments, while you’re dealing with mental health issues at home.
Take phone breaks when you can, and spend more productive time outside, reading, exercising, or socializing in a real-world setting. Turn off your notifications every now and then, and spend more time away from your devices. Try making an effort to live in the moment more often, for you, not for the sake of posting to your social media pages.
Prioritize your mental health by developing some solid, positive habits that you might not have tried before. Break the status quo by enjoying more time outside, limiting the time you spend on your phone, and developing healthier eating and sleeping habits.
Talk to someone about what you’re going through. This doesn’t have to be a therapist, but someone you trust can provide some relief on the thoughts you’re juggling in your head. Confide in someone you can trust to not only stay confidential but provide objective feedback on your thoughts and feelings.
You’re not alone. Make sure you get out of the house more and prioritize self-care daily. Choose healthy options that make you feel better, and develop habits utilizing them.