While most of us are so consciously worried about our physical health, we often overlook our mental health. Our mental health isn’t too much in discussion with friends and family; we don’t usually discuss it even with our closest loved ones when we are feeling sad, agitated or angry, the way we discuss migraines and colds. 

Mental health is just as important as being healthy physically, if not more. When it comes to individuals, mental health and mental illnesses are different for everyone; we are all differently affected by the same problems in our lives, and react to them in different ways. There are many emotional, social and psychological reasons that can hamper our mental health, but we are the only ones who can take care of ourselves. 

But first, we need to understand what mental health is, and how it can affect us.

What is Mental Health? 

How we feel, think and act is reflections of our mental health. Just as we are bothered by headaches, upset stomachs, fevers, colds, and other serious illnesses, our mental state can suffer as well. How we react to and feel about everything that is happening around us, gives us a good glimpse of our own mental health. Some of us get fuming mad over the littlest matters, while others may get depressed or sad – all of these are indicators of poor mental health. Extreme anxiety, unnecessary panicking, depression, different irrelevant phobias, obsessing over small details, pointless mood swings, different personalities at different times and hallucinations are only some of the mental disorders and illnesses we can have. 

While we can’t really help our mental health, there are some ways that we can take care of ourselves. Just as we can take care of our physical health, we can manage to live a happier, more cheerful life by following some basic health tips. 

  • Eat Well 

Both our brain and our body needs the right foods and drinks to be healthy. Just as our body needs the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to function properly, our brain does too. A balanced diet, consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, dairy products, whole grains, and oily fish is exactly what we need to be both mentally and physically healthy. 

Models and film personalities often go on strict diets to lose weight and stay slim and miss out on important nutrients and vitamins. They are the main victims of various mental illnesses and disorders that can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, or any other addiction. This can be also seen in other people who forgo a balanced diet to lose weight quickly in a crash diet. To have a healthy and happy mind and body, you need a balanced diet of healthy fats and filling carbohydrates. 

  • Don’t Drink Too Much 

Many people prefer to drink alcohol when they are feeling sad or discouraged, as alcohol can indeed change our mood for the better. However, this is only temporary as the effects of alcohol eventually wear off and leave you feeling worse. 

Alcohol withdrawal can be harder on your feelings. The soothing and sympathetic effects of alcohol wear off within a few hours and leave negative damage on your body and mind. This is not the right way to manage your negative feelings, because you’ll feel worse after your drinking binges. While occasional and limited drinking can be a good and enjoyable experience, no one should use alcohol to cope with their negative feelings and emotions. 

The weekly limit for alcohol should be 14 units for men and women; any more, especially to feel good when you are stressed, afraid, sad or anxious, could lead to alcohol poisoning or alcoholism in the future. 

  •  Exercise Regularly 

Regular exercise isn’t just great for losing weight and keeping fit, but also good for your mental wellbeing. This is a biological reaction in your body where the brain releases a special chemical that makes you feel better. 

Exercising also increases your confidence and happiness, as one of the chemicals released from the brain is known as endorphins or happiness chemicals. The effects of endorphins are similar to those of morphine, and you can end up feeling “euphoric” after a few minutes of exercise. The average need to exercise is around 30 minutes per day, at least five days a week. Those who exercise regularly will actually have less stress compared to other people who never exercise, as well as get depressed less often, get a boost in their self-esteem and can ward off anxiety more easily.

  • Eat the Right Foods 

There are some specific foods that can actually help in improving your mental health, both because they are delicious and because they contain the necessary nutrients your brain needs. All kinds of berries, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and cherries, walnuts, yogurt, beans and leafy greens all have special nutrients that make you feel better when you are anxious, sad or fearful about something. 

  • Get your Sleep 

Sometimes, lack of sleep can be one of the main reasons a person is feeling anxious, sad or stressed. Any human being needs at least 6 to 7 hours of uninterrupted and continuous sleep within a 24-hour window. Any less is likely to leave you feeling drowsy, irritated, unhappy and angry. 

If you have a hectic career or young children, it is possible that you are not getting enough sleep or uninterrupted sleep, which can seriously hamper your mental health. This is one of the reasons new mothers suffer from postpartum depression, as their sleep patterns are hampered. Getting enough sleep is one of the main ways to make sure that you are well-rested, happy and at peace. 

Our mental health is both directly and indirectly connected to our lifestyle and our choices. While there can be many serious reasons for mental illnesses and mental disorders, we can at least try and remain happy in our lives by living a good and healthy life.