Everybody needs to take care of their mental health. It’s not just those who have diagnosed mental illnesses, or those who are prone to such things, who need to worry about looking after their minds – it’s something that we all need to think about. If you fail to take proper care of your mind, you might find it results in some pretty negative changes in your life overall. There are, however, a range of pieces of mental health advice that we should all know, but which somehow gets ignored or forgotten about. Let’s look at some of the most important of these now.
Sleep Is Essential
If you are not getting enough sleep, that is one of the quickest ways to run into problems with your mental health, even if you are relatively healthy in all other respects and generally look after yourself. That’s because sleep is your nightly restorative phase, and it is an essential process for ensuring that the brain gets the rest it needs. You also dream during sleep, which can be a way for the mind to sort out some of what has been bugging it – though the science on this is uncertain.
For whatever reason, your moods are regulated better and you can think more clearly when you are getting your full eight hours a night. If you are struggling to sleep properly, you might want to think about setting up a sleep schedule for yourself. That can be as simple as ensuring you read before bed. You should also consider whether you might be able to cut down on caffeine and alcohol, both of which interrupt your sleep more than you would care to know.
Be Careful With Screens
A lot of people are starting to get wise to just how bad screens can be for one’s mind, but this is still not really common knowledge and certainly not mainstream advice, so it’s something that is worth looking into. In fact, if you are using screens a lot of the time, you are going to find that your mental health is more likely to struggle, and that is something that you should think about a great deal.
Increased screen usage makes you more likely to think in shallow waves rather than in deep trenches – which can make proper critical thinking much harder. It is also related to increased anxiety and depression, especially if you are using those screens for looking at social media. Finally, using screens at night could interrupt your sleep, which as we have already seen is a hugely important thing for your general mental health. However, you can mitigate that somewhat by learning how to enable Google Chrome’s dark mode or using the night mode on your smartphone.
All in all, though, screen use is something to avoid as much as possible. If you don’t believe that it could be that effective, just try reducing your screen use for a week and see what happens. You might be amazed at how much better you feel just from a short break.
Take Cold Showers
When faced with the advice to take cold showers, most people immediately baulk at the suggestion. After all, why would you want to subject yourself to that kind of torture, especially in the winter? Wouldn’t that be bad for your stress levels, if anything? But the truth is that cold showers are known to be one of the most effective mood-boosters around – and the science propping this assertion up is growing every day.
Cold showers actually have a range of benefits for your health, from improving your metabolism to giving your circulation a much-needed boost. But what we are especially concerned with here is the way in which it releases a powerful rush of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that occur naturally in the brain. It has even been shown to effectively treat depression, if it is done daily.
At first, taking a cold shower can be challenging, but you can make it easier for yourself by starting out how and then gradually getting colder. Over time, your resilience to the cold builds up and this alone also gives you a mental boost – as you are proving to yourself that you are capable of pushing yourself to do a difficult thing.
If there is one thing we know for certain about trying to feel better, it’s that the single most effective way to do so is to develop as much compassion for other people as possible. The more that you think about and help others in life, the better you feel about yourself, and the more likely you are to then look after yourself better too. Of course, a lot of us have been trained by this individualist society to think that caring for number one is the most important thing in the world.
You should care for yourself. But you should also care for others. If you are aware that you might need to develop compassion in yourself, you can do this through a simple practice known as metta meditation. This is an old Buddhist idea, and essentially all you do is sit in meditation and focus on various people, wishing them good thoughts in the process. You can start with someone you have an uncomplicated relationship with, and then move on to someone you feel strongly good feelings for. Ultimately, the goal is to be able to do it for your worst enemies, or even enemies of the world.
Having a daily metta practice can change your worldview for the better in remarkably positive ways. It can change the way that you treat other people. And it is one of the surest routes to rooting out negativity and stress within yourself as it relates to other people and your relationships with them. If you start up this practice today, by next month you will be a happier person through and through.
All of these are essential to take up, and if you haven’t tried them you should at least give them a go.