Life has its ups and downs. But if it seems like the days you are feeling down, anxious or stressed are outnumbering the good days, it might be time for you to take stock of your mental health. Taking control of our emotional, physical and mental health – and being committed to working through obstacles related to them – is very important to our quality of life.
Being able to manage our mental health is also a life skill. A lot of it involves incorporating a few basic actions into our lifestyle until they become healthy habits that make us feel better. You may be doing some of these things already. Here are some ways you can get started boosting your own mental health.
Supporting good mental health has become a touchpoint everywhere from schools and workplaces to at home amid our own family dynamics. It can have lots of meanings, but when you’re talking about improving your personal mental health, that advice comes under the heading of self-care. Deliberate actions you take for your physical and emotional health can have a big impact on how you feel each day.
Why is being more aware of our mental health so important right now? National studies done as the COVID-19 pandemic waned showed that a lot of people were suffering emotionally. Results of a Harvard Youth Poll shared by CNBC showed that more than half of people surveyed between the ages of 18 and 29 said they typically felt depressed or hopeless several days a month. This was in addition to other recent surveys which have shown that living through a pandemic era has stressed out adults as well as children. Because our mental health has a huge impact on our relationships with other people and our physical well-being, it’s important to take steps so that we are feeling our best. Some easy but healthy habits to incorporate, according to the National Institute of Mental Health:
Sleep needs to be a priority. Some of us love to stay up late on our phones or laptops or watch TV way past our bedtime. But skimping on sleep can make us feel a lot worse the next day and does not give our body the time it needs to recharge.
Exercise each day. Find 30 minutes to move your body each day. It can be a walk around the block, a trip to the gym or a couple work breaks spent on the treadmill.
Stay positive and grateful. Push negative drama – and people – to the sidelines. “Think positive” might seem overly simplistic, but it works to help you feel better. Being positive also means being grateful. It does your brain good to think about everything you are grateful for. If you like journaling, write it down. Or just let your mind wander over all these good things each night before you go to sleep.
Keep up the connections. Remote work has made this challenging for some but staying emotionally connected to people is important. Relationships give deeper meaning to our lives and create a support network when we need it the most.
Healthy foods + water. Being dehydrated makes it harder to think clearly. And eating too much processed food isn’t good for your body or your brain. Make smarter choices at each meal: fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains. Drink lots of water, and don’t overdo it on alcohol or caffeine.
Blue Cross is Ready to Help with mental health resources. Read more about how we’ve worked to expand access to mental health care in our network online here. Blue Cross members can find more information about the mental health and substance use resources available through their health plan online here.
Did you know you can access helpful tips and information on meditation from your smart device? Use your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled devices, with MIBlue (pronounced “My Blue”) from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.