Around 14% of the Indian population suffers from some variation of mental health disorders, while an even higher percentage will face mental health crises at some point in their lives. Every year, more and more Indians sign up for mental health therapy of some sort, and this barely scratches the surface of India’s growing mental health problems. Indians face a lot of problems in seeking health for their mental health concerns including: social stigma, an incredibly low therapist to patient ratio (7.5:1000000) and high costs of continuous treatments.
So how does one go about improving their mental health, in their own home & environment? A lot of therapists recommend identifying the pillars of good mental health, honest introspection, and adopting or changing daily practices to foster total body wellness. Today, you can access mental health services easier than ever before – whether you go in person, attend sessions online, or even through apps, WhatsApp and SMS. However, if you are unsure of what steps you can take, personally, to alleviate your mental health concerns, you could try enforcing some of the behaviors listed below.
- Add Movement To Your Life
Until quite recently, humans have always had to be active in order to survive and thrive. Until the advance of modern transportation & technology, activities such as walking long distances, dealing with manual labor & exercising while working were commonplace for most people. With increasing reliance on technology that decreases our need for physical activity, it is important to find ways to make up for this.
Be it through scheduled exercise, walks through nature, sporting activities, or manual activities such as gardening & dancing, you can add activities to your everyday life that will help you alleviate a number of mental health concerns.
- Control Your Rest
Sleep is essential to each and every one of us. However, in a world dominated by hyper-evolutionary technology, our sleep patterns can go totally unregulated. We also need to find time to simply rest our minds and bodies, to let ourselves rejuvenate stress-free.
We can do this through breathing exercises, yoga, light exercises and more. You can lie back in bed, even if you aren’t sleepy, with your eyes closed for a period of time, until you feel your mind calm down. You can take a walk or spend time with your pet, or find a quiet place in a beautiful area to just be one with the world around you.
As far as sleep goes, set an exact time to go to bed, and to wake up. It is important to address sleep issues as soon as possible, since it has been shown that bad sleep habits can adversely affect your mental health. So remember to rest your brain, and sleep as peacefully as you can.
If you find it hard to sleep, try exercising or going for a walk to make yourself tired. If you still find it hard to sleep, then at the least try to relax your body & mind while sitting in bed, emptying all negative thoughts from your brain in the process.
- Eat For Your Brain
Over the course of time, the reason for which we eat food has changed significantly. People now eat for the flavor of food, and for enjoyment, whereas we once used to eat to survive. By foregoing healthy food, for those that give us comfort or joy, we are denying our body the nutrients it needs to function properly. Just as eating unhealthy food can lead to your body putting on weight, unhealthy food can have adverse effects on your brain and cognitive functions.
To keep your brain optimally charged, try eating a balanced, nutritious diet that is packed with brain-rich foods. Berries, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, nuts, coffee & omega 3 rich fatty fish are just some foods that can help your brain get the energy it needs.
- Connect, Connect, Connect
Humans need social connectivity to thrive. Without the proper amount of social interaction, we are bound to feel lonely, disenfranchised & left behind. Social connection is one of the most important factors to keep in mind while evaluating mental health problems.
Try to connect with other people in some way or the other. Talk about your problems with family, friends or acquaintances – keeping your problems to yourself seldom helps. Go out and make new friends through a new hobby, skill or interest. Find the people that you connect with the most, and put more effort into fostering those relationships. Be there for people around you who need help, and rely on others to help you get through your bad times.
- Respect Your Boundaries/Limitations
As humans, we tend to believe that we are limitless creatures, and as we grow up, this notion erodes away. The inability to fulfill various tasks that we see others do with ease can be a source of internal conflict for many people. This does not have to be the case. Each and every one of us can find specific things that we do better than others, and it is important to celebrate. However, it is just as important to acknowledge and be open about our various limitations and boundaries, so that we may learn to forgive our failures. Setting boundaries for things you don’t like can help to reduce anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues. It can be extremely cathartic and uplifting to be able to set personal boundaries based on your preferences, because it exemplifies putting your own interested ahead of others’.
- Exercise Mindfulness
Mindfulness is an ability that most of us have, but aren’t taught about. Practicing mindfulness can help you be fully present in any given moment, while it helps you take stock of your likes & dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses, your emotional triggers, etc.
By focusing inward, and understanding your own psyche, you will be able to achieve a balanced center from which you can learn how to control your mind. Being mindful does not have to involve yoga or any activity, rather it is about creating a comfortable space for yourself that helps you introspect and learn from your experiences. Think of it as a way to take your brain off autopilot mode, and gaining mental control for yourself.
- Regulate Your Emotions
Do not let your emotions control the way you live. Instead, regulate them just as you would other activities, and gain control over them. Once you have identified the issues, activities, people and other variables that cause your mind to get triggered negatively, you can work towards negating the effects of these emotions.
Successfully regulating your emotions will help you focus more on the positive feelings that you have, and will help you build your life around those emotions, rather than being weighed down by the negatives. Once you are able to do this, thinking realistically (for yourself) becomes much easier – balancing imagination and the real world.
By regulating our emotions and thoughts, it becomes much easier to see the world as it is, rather than the way we perceive it to be. Usually, this helps us realize what is important to us, and helps us keep a conscious account of the emotional toll we experience.
By successfully implementing these 7 habits, your life can become easier, less stressful, and more productive. You will be able to identify the emotions, people and activities that bring you the most mental anguish, and then approach them with a healthy & positive mindset. Remember, your mental health is just as important as physical health, so make it a point to take care of it as well as you can!