Mental health issues are shockingly common in the U.S., with over 50 million Americans experiencing symptoms each year. While a diagnosis may disrupt daily life, the ripple effects can spread further.
The numbers don’t lie. Over 20% of Americans experience symptoms of a mental health disorder annually. Depression and anxiety are the most prevalent, impacting over 18% and 40 million Americans, respectively.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with over 47,000 lives lost in 2019. The economic impact totals over $200 billion in lost earnings per year.
It’s clear mental health should be a national priority. Reducing stigma and increasing access to care can help lessen the burden. In the meantime, self-care strategies may aid well-being and supplement professional treatment.
Start a Journal for Mental Well Being
Journaling is one of the best ways to improve your mental health. It can be difficult to work through your thoughts when they constantly swirl around in your head. Putting your thoughts down on paper helps you identify your feelings and why. The great thing is there’s no “right” way to journal. You can try:
- Bullet journaling
- Writing positive affirmations
- Making gratitude lists
- Expressing your emotions
- Tracking your mood
- Summarizing your day
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the idea of journaling every day. Start with just 5 or 10 minutes a few times a week. You might find that you enjoy it and naturally do it more often. Keep your journal by your bed and write before you go to sleep. That way, it becomes part of your nighttime routine.
Try a Deep Breathing Exercise
Deep breathing exercises are one of the simplest yet most effective ways to relax your mind and body. By focusing your awareness on your breath, you can shift your mind from a state of stress or anxiety into a calmer state. Other breathing exercises you can try include.
- Diaphragmatic breathing: Lie on your back with your knees bent and place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. Breathe slowly through your nose so your stomach pushes your hand out while keeping your chest still. Exhale through pursed lips while pressing your stomach in.
- Equal breathing: Find a comfortable seated position and close your eyes. Breathe in and out through your nose, counting to three on the inhale and three on the exhale. Focus on making your inhales and exhales the same length.
- Alternate nostril breathing: Sit with your back straight and hold one nostril closed with a finger. Inhale through the open nostril, then close that nostril and exhale through the other side. Repeat, inhaling through the side you just exhaled from.
Gardening is one of the best mental health activities to add to your routine. Getting outside in nature significantly benefits your physical and mental well-being. Spending time outside also allows breathing deep fresh air and natural surroundings.
Stroll through your garden and appreciate the colors, scents, sounds, and other sensory details that abound. Listen to birds singing, feel the sun on your face, and taste fresh veggies or herbs you’ve grown yourself. Engaging all your senses is a simple way to boost feelings of well-being and joy.
In addition to the mental health benefits, gardening provides physical nourishment. Growing your fruits, vegetables, and herbs gives you control over what goes into your body and access to nutritious, organic produce. Eating food you’ve grown yourself is highly satisfying and helps create a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
Yoga is one of the best mental health activities to add to your routine. Some research shows that yoga connects your body and mind, which can help reduce anxiety and depression. Yoga is great whether your therapist recommends it or not.
There are many types of yoga, so finding the right style for you may take trying a few different classes. Some people prefer active and intense styles like vinyasa or hot yoga. Others prefer slower, gentler styles like yin yoga or hatha yoga. A combination of active and restorative yoga can provide mental health benefits.
Yoga helps calm your mind and body. The controlled breathing and meditation involved with yoga helps lower stress and anxiety. The physical poses release feel-good hormones like dopamine that improve your mood. Yoga also enhances body awareness and flexibility, which leads to an overall sense of wellness.
Being in a Healthy Mental Space is The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself
Being in a healthy mental space is the best gift you can give yourself. Like your physical health, your mental well-being needs consistent attention and care to stay in good shape. Making time for self-care is essential for your emotional health, and effective coping strategies ensure you’re ready when difficult times hit.
When you feel awful, your first instinct may be to reach for whatever will make the pain disappear—the TV remote, a drink, a cigarette, or junk food. However, with these mental health activities in your toolbox, you’ll be better equipped for whatever comes your way.
Reach out for professional support from Riviera Recovery if you’re struggling. Your well-being is worth it. Call us at 855-207-9708.