Prevention Series Part Four: Mental Health

Your Mental Health

Mental health is defined as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. The state of our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Taking care of our mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

It is important to note that mental and physical health are equally essential components of overall health. That means that many of the healthy habits that promote physical health also help promote mental health, and vise versa. In addition, one’s mental health can change over time depending on many internal and external factors.

Healthy Habits for Optimal Mental Health

  • Get active: Exercise is extremely beneficial for mental health. Even just thirty minutes a day can provide an instant mood boost, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve self-esteem and cognitive function
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet: A balanced diet and plenty of water can not only improve your energy and focus throughout the day, but a nutritious foods have been directly linked to improved mental health.
  • Get quality sleep: Sleep restores us and has a huge effect on our overall mental health. In fact, sleep deprivation increases your risk for depression and anxiety. Establish a night time routine and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night!

Additional Tips

In addition to the healthy habits listed above, there are numerous self-care habits you can partake in that benefit your mental health:

  • Stay connected with friends and family members
  • Practice relaxing activities such as yoga or meditation
  • Find a hobby that brings you joy
  • Set goals and priorities for each day
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Spend time in nature

When to Seek Help

The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) states that severe or distressing symptoms of mental health concerns include: difficulty sleeping, appetite changes that result in unwanted weight changes, a desire to not to get out of bed, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in things you usually find enjoyable, or the inability to perform usual daily functions and responsibilities. It is important to not wait until your symptoms are overwhelming and to seek help as soon as you realize something is off. To learn more, click here!


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