We’ve all been witnessing and feeling the spread of worry, anxiety, fear, and instability these days.
In a crisis like this, our mental health suffers from stressful events, excessive amounts of negative information and alarming news.
Most of us face up to our emotions and sustain our mental well-being as never before. What can we do for our mental health immediately? Not next Monday or next month.
Making minor changes to your daily routine is what you can do to support yourself and improve your mental health condition. Here are some tips to introduce to your life in order to improve your mental well-being.
#1 Stop consuming the tremendous amount of horrible news (especially, from unreliable resources)
When you read the news, sometimes it feels like only terrible and depressing things happen in this world. Why does the media concentrate on bad things rather than good ones?
The answer is people respond quicker to negative headlines.
There are three cognitive biases that are activated by negative news to make us stuck in negative emotions:
- Negativity bias means that we can’t turn negative news off. This bias may have had an evolutionary benefit (we were more likely to notice potential threats, for example), but in the modern world, our preference for the negative is supposed to keep our attention.
- Availability bias means that after we see negativity, we overestimate its significance.
- Confirmation bias is the idea that we will actively seek out, remember, and favor information that confirms something we already believe.
When you sum up these three biases, you’ll fully understand why you’re so easily trapped in negative thinking.
Research shows that news may also negatively impact our mental health.
Another study found that just three minutes of negative news in the morning (versus more uplifting content) can ruin your mood for the rest of the day. So, if you find yourself stressed, anxious, or frustrated after reading news, slow down with reading news.
Filter the quantity and quality of the news you consume. Coronavirus Statistics show that many people are feeling depressed due to lockdown. Remember, the dose makes the poison. Do you care what kind of food will fulfill your body?
Then why don’t you care about the information that will nourish your mind?
#2 Sleep better and take naps
Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health, researchers say.
People, who don’t sleep well at night, have a tendency to get run down and exhausted during the day which exacerbates their low mood or anxiety.
It’s important for everyone who does not get enough sleep at night to take naps during the day when they feel tired.
Studies have shown that a 40-minute nap can increase alertness by 100% and improve performance by 34%. They can also have a measurably positive effect on mood.
Though naps should not be used as a replacement for a good night’s sleep, they can help ease the sleep deficit for those with insomnia or who experience restless sleep.
#3 Perform a digital detox
While social media can be wonderful for reconnecting with old friends and staying up on the lives of family members, it can also have a number of negative consequences including increased stress and anxiety.
“Keeping up” with the perceived happiness levels of others and comparing yourself to the images of those on social media can lead to depression and feelings of low self-esteem.
Research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that smartphone dependency predicts later depressive symptoms.
The authors conclude that it can be a good idea for some people to evaluate their relationship with their smartphones and set time limits.
A good mental health strategy is to take a set time away from social media to rejuvenate and reconnect with yourself and your loved ones.
If you want to take it to the next level, disconnect from your phone altogether for a set period of time and take a break from the Internet and television.
However, doctors’ opinions on that subject may differ. Dr. Mark Zager, ESA Care says, “From my experience, a digital detox really helps people to alleviate symptoms of mental disabilities.
Mobile devices and social media are a significant distraction for patients concentrating on problems and therapy.”
While Dr. Stacie Daniel, ESA Care is not so sure about the positive effects of a digital detox: “Yes, it may have some advantages.
Nevertheless, we cannot say for sure if it really helps. In some cases, it may even worsen the situation – people without cell phones may feel more disconnected and isolated.”
#4 Have someone to support you
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety affects around 18% of the population. According to a new study in the Journal of Affective Disorders, one of the strongest impacts on recovering from anxiety is having someone to lean on.
People who had at least one person they could confide in about their feelings were more likely to be in better mental health than those who did not. Researchers say it’s the sense of belonging and self-worth that may promote recovery.
#5 Follow the optimal diet
Poor nutrition may contribute to depression.
Several studies have found that people who followed a diet high in processed meat, chocolates, sweet desserts, fried food, and high-fat dairy products — were more likely to have symptoms of depression. These days 80-90% of people diagnosed with mental disorders might not need medications if they change their food choices. Here are the best practices:
- Eliminate processed food — it causes a spike in blood sugar, causing your insulin levels to rise, which, in turn, controls the activity of your stress hormones
- Eat animal protein — it contains vitamin D3, which is the exact type of vitamin D the body needs
- Try the Mediterranean diet — it’s all about fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich legumes, fatty fish and olive oil (high in omega-3s).
#6 Stick to a daily routine
Routine can be a vkind of anchor for people suffering from anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses.
No matter what’s going on, knowing that you’ll have your cup of tea at 9 am or reading a book at 8 pm can be a real comfort. The certainty of the routine can help you manage the feeling of uncertainty in life.
#7 Get an emotional support animal
Animals have a wonderful calming effect. They provide unconditional love and support, never judge, and are always happy to see their owners.
Those with emotional or mental challenges often take even more comfort from their animals by finding purpose in taking care of them and forming a connection and bond they often find difficult to form with humans in their lives.
You can have a therapy session with a mental health professional who’ll figure out whether your emotional condition qualifies for getting an emotional support animal.
#8 Learn breathing techniques
To bring yourself back to the moment and to your body, develop a habit of deep breathing when you need a break. You can try different breathing techniques to learn what fits you best. Here are our favorite ones:
7-11 breathing technique: breathe in for a count of 7 seconds and out for a count of 11 seconds. The most important thing here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in.
4-7-8 breathing technique: breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
Deep breathing slows your heartbeat, calms the chatter in your mind, and makes you concentrate on what’s going on in your body. This can also help you fall asleep at night.
You can also pair deep breathing exercises with meditation, yoga, or any other relaxation strategy you currently have in place.
#9 Take an Epsom salt bath
Baths are very soothing and can help you let go of the past, stop worrying about the future, and enjoy the current moment.
Adding Epsom salts takes baths to a new level as they have a strong detoxifying effect on the body. When too many toxins build up from the foods we eat or our environment, it can add to increased stress, inflammation, and reduced mental health.
Try to take a 20-30 minute Epsom salt bath several times a week to experience the calming and detoxification they provide.
#10 Try therapy apps
Going to therapy is quite expensive, and, in most cases, require more than a session or two a week to be effective.
Online therapy and mental health support right at your fingertips — here’s what mobile apps for. Here are the apps we’re in love with:
- What’s up?
Consider trying out one of these apps or google the alternatives (there are a lot of them out there!) to use on their own or in combination with traditional therapy.
The best way to maintain your well-being is to avoid getting involved in negative patterns and spirals in the first place. To do this, it’s important to establish and maintain mental health habits and routines that act as buffers against the inevitable stressors of life and provide a sustainable source of wellbeing and emotional strength.