Mental health is a taboo topic in many parts of the world, especially in certain conservative cultures, but this ought not to be so. We all need to be able to discuss this topic openly in safe spaces. In this season, it is important to cater to the mind and mostly the thoughts, feelings and emotions in order to keep them well regulated. By combating stress, worry and fatigue, we can ensure that our mental health is functioning at optimal levels. There is no one size fits all method and taking care of your mental health looks different for everyone. This is why you should always speak to your medical practitioner or psychiatrist about treatment if required. However, there are some general things that go a long way in keeping you healthy – mind, body and soul.
Guard Your Thoughts
Thoughts are made up of images and words that occupy the mind. They can translate into a physical state of being as well. This is why I believe that our emotions are often a function of our thoughts. If you are thinking about a series of unfortunate events, it is not uncommon to notice that you are suddenly engulfed in fear and despair. On the flip side, if you are thinking of things that are positive and happy, the chances are that you will feel that way too. To guard your thoughts means to interrupt any negative images of words that enter your mind. This is easier said than done, though and requires persistent practice. You will get better at it over time. Part of guarding your thoughts is keeping the gateways to your mind clear of content that will induce negative emotions and mental stress. Avoid watching or listening to content that leaves you feeling out-of-sorts.
You can keep a gratitude journal and write the things you are grateful for in it on a daily basis. This will help you reflect and stay in touch with what really matters most. It will also enable you to let go of the things you cannot control by accepting what already is. Alternatively, you can keep a gratitude jar and place little notes of what you are grateful for in it. Then, after a long period of time, say a year, or when the jar is full, you can empty it and read all the notes to see how blessed you are. By reading the notes, you will be reminded of the many good things that have happened to you.
Talk to Someone
Talking while someone else listens can be very therapeutic. When we go unheard for long periods of time, it can feel like we are carrying the heavyweight of all our experiences on our shoulders. Talking to someone who cares enough to keep your information safe can be deeply freeing. It can help you to let out anything you have been bottling up inside such as fear, anxiety or doubt. Many times, the act of talking to someone is not always necessarily because we want to them to answer our questions or fix our problems. It might just be because we want to be heard and acknowledged. If you do not have someone you trust whom you can talk to easily, you can join a support group in the community. Do some research and find some local mental health resources that you can tap into.
Did you know that exercise is a great stress reliever? Imagine having a bad day and then taking a run afterwards to release the bad energy pent up in your emotions while letting go of tension and strain?
An active lifestyle has many health benefits. Activities like a brisk walk, jogging or biking produces endorphins in the body that makes you feel good and generally happy. With the whole shift towards staying at home, it is easy to get comfortable and start living a sedentary lifestyle. Consider engaging in some daily or weekly exercises to keep your mental health in good shape. Get the heart pumping and your blood flowing.
Eat for Wellness
Yes, you can eat your way to happiness, better energy, glowing skin and a healthy mind. There is a connection between your diet and the mind. You will want to add more fruits and vegetables to your meals in order to keep your mind in good shape. We all know that unhealthy foods always taste the best, but they are not always good for us. Food can either be a pill or a poison. Treat food as medicine, and it will work wonders for you. It is not to say that eating has to become monotonous and uninspiring at all. While I don’t recommend binge eating on fast food all day, sometimes, a little guilty pleasure does not hurt. Again, it should be done in moderation or else constantly eating unhealthy foods just to feel good could become a problem in itself.
Disclaimer – These recommendations are suggestions for taking care of mental health based on my lived experience and does not constitute medical advice. If you are having problems with your mental health, then I suggest that you talk to your doctor about your options for treatment.
How are you taking care of your mental health while in quarantine?