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10 Ways To Improve Mental Health

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Why is improving your mental health so important?

In today's fast-paced world, it can be easy to get caught up in the stress and demands of everyday life. But taking care of your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health. With medication not readily available or even an option for everyone, you may want to consider exploring a more natural route, I created a list of 10 simple and easy ways to boost your mental health and begin to feel happier, healthier, and more balanced. These steps should not replace any prescribed treatment you are under by your doctor, but should only be used as an aid. This is not medical advice just something else to add to your practice on your healing journey.


Laughing improves mental health

Here are 10 ways to improve your mental health


Laugh it off:

Laughter is the best medicine, and it's also one of the easiest ways to improve your mental health. So, watch a comedy, read a funny book, and check out your local theatre for improv shows and stand-up shows. One study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine in 2011, found that laughter has a positive effect on mood and stress hormone levels. The study found that participants who watched a humorous video had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reported feeling more positive and less stressed than participants who did not watch the video.

 

Take a walk:



The Journal of Affective Disorders in 2015, found that regular walking can improve symptoms of depression. The study analyzed data from over 1,000 participants and found that those who walked regularly had lower levels of depression and reported feeling more positive and less stressed than those who did not walk regularly.

Reference:

  • "The association between physical activity and symptoms of depression: A longitudinal study," Journal of Affective Disorders, 2015, Volume 190, Pages 656-662. Fun fact; walking backward can work different muscles and burn more calories than walking forward!

 


Practice mindfulness:



One study, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 2010, found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can be as effective as antidepressants in preventing relapse of depression. The study analyzed data from over 400 participants who had a history of depression and found that those who practiced MBCT had similar relapse rates as those who took antidepressants. It's important to note that mindfulness can be practiced in different ways, such as through meditation, yoga, and tai chi, and it's recommended to find a form that suits best you and/or consult with a professional to guide you through the process. Reference:

  • "Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depression by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2010, Volume 78(1), Pages 169-

 

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Get some sunlight:



Sunlight is important for mental health because it plays a role in regulating the body's circadian

rhythm and the production of certain hormones, such as serotonin and melatonin. These hormones

are linked to mood regulation and sleep patterns, and a lack of sunlight can contribute to conditions

such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and depression.

One study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2016, found that exposure to sunlight

was associated with a reduced risk of depression, particularly among women. The study analyzed data

from over 30,000 participants and found that those who had higher levels of sunlight exposure had

a lower risk of developing depression.


 

Reference:

  • "Association between sunlight exposure and depression: A population-based study," Journal of Affective Disorders, 2016, Volume 190, Pages 185-190.

Listen to music:




One study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine in 2016,

found that listening to music can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in cancer patients. The

the study analyzed data from over 1,000 participants and found that those who listened to music

regularly had lower levels of depression and anxiety compared to those who did not listen to music.

  • "The effect of music on mental and physical health in cancer patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis," International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 2016, Volume 23, Pages 316-326. Try some music created by Elevated State of Self.


 

Write it down:


Writing down one's thoughts can be beneficial for mental health as it can serve as a form of self-

expression and reflection. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that

expressive writing, or writing about one's thoughts and feelings, can improve symptoms of depression

and anxiety. Additionally, the study found that the positive effects of expressive writing on mental

health can be seen even weeks after the writing exercise has been completed.


Source: Pennebaker, J. W., & Seagal, J. D. (1999). Forming a story: The health benefits of narrative. Journal of clinical psychology, 55(10), 1243-1254.






 

Get some exercise:




Physical exercise ( Yoga, Weight training, walking)has been shown to have a positive impact on

mental health. According to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in

2016, regular exercise is associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety and improved

mood. The study, which looked at data from 11 different trials involving over 1,000 participants,

found that exercise was as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression.

Additionally, another meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2017 found

that exercise is an effective intervention for reducing symptoms of anxiety.


Source:

  • "The effects of exercise on depression and anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials" - Journal of Psychiatric Research (2016)

  • "The effectiveness of exercise as an intervention in the management of anxiety disorders: a meta-analysis" - Journal of Clinical Psychology (2017)


 

Connect with others:


Connecting with others is important for better mental health because social interactions can provide emotional support, reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, and improve overall well-being. Studies have shown that people who have strong social connections have lower

rates of depression and anxiety, and are more likely to recover from stressful events. Additionally,

having a sense of community can boost self-esteem and increase one's sense of belonging.

Connecting with others can be done in many ways, such as through friendships, family relationships,

support groups, or community activities.



 


Get some sleep:


According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim for 7-9 hours of

sleep per night for optimal physical and mental health. However, the recommended amount can vary

depending on an individual's age, lifestyle, and overall health.



 


Treat yourself:


Last but not least, remember to treat yourself. Whether it's your favorite food, a bubble bath, or a

new pair of shoes, sometimes a little self-care can go a long way in improving your mental health.








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