Looking after your mental health is vital, but it may not be that easy. Some people may need mental health treatment to help them get by with the overwhelming effects of their mental health problems. Because if they can’t keep themselves mentally healthy, they can’t function well in their daily lives.
As such, you may want to keep reading this guide to learn more about mental health and how to take care of it.
What Is Mental Health?
It refers to emotional, behavioral, and cognitive well-being, which is how you behave, feel, and think. Generally, people think you’re mentally healthy when you don’t have a mental disorder. It may also mean having healthy relationships and good physical health since mental health can affect these aspects.
However, other experts say that a healthy mental state isn’t only about the absence of mental disability or disorder. To say that you’re mentally well, you must be able to look after ongoing happiness and wellness aside from managing active conditions.
What Is Mental Illness?
To understand how you can manage your condition and go after wellness and happiness, become familiarized with mental health disorders or mental illnesses. These disorders vary as they can affect your behavior, thinking, or mood. However, not all mental health concerns are considered mental illnesses because people can experience these concerns from time to time. You’ll only call it a mental illness if the current signs and symptoms make you unable to function and cause frequent stress.
For instance, a mental illness can cause problems in relationships, work, school, and daily life, making you miserable and requiring you to have treatment. That’s why you should be wary of the following early warning signs of mental health disorders:
– Unable to perform daily tasks like going to school or work or taking care of your kids
– Thinking of harming others or yourself
– Believing things or hearing voices that aren’t real
– Having persistent memories and thoughts you can’t get rid of in your head
– Having severe mood swings that may wreck relationships
– Fighting or yelling at friends or family
– Feeling unusually scared, worried, upset, angry, on edge, forgetful, or confused
– Using drugs, drinking, or smoking more than usual
– Feeling hopeless or helpless
– Having unexplained pains and aches
– Felling like nothing matters or being numb
– Having no or low energy
– Pulling away from regular activities or people
– Sleeping or eating too little or too much
Fortunately, you can find many ways to deal with mental health illnesses and enjoy a healthy life. You can follow tips from mental health advocates and those that have gone through the same problem as you. But if it’s too much for you to manage, it’s best to consult a medical expert to help address this problem.
Do You Need To See A Doctor?
When you experience the mentioned signs and symptoms, it’s always best to seek the help of a mental health professional or primary care provider. Or you can search ‘mental health treatment center near me‘ on the internet to learn about their programs and how they address mental health disorders. What’s important is to seek the advice of professionals or experts in mental health so you can prevent a mental health concern from becoming an illness.
What Are The Types Of Mental Illnesses?
After seeking a mental health professional, you can identify the type of mental illness that you may have. It is best to seek the proper treatment for your mental health since different mental illnesses require different approaches. Moreover, by understanding the following types of mental health disorders, you can gauge if you have any of them:
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
After experiencing a terrifying or traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, the unexpected death of loved ones, or a physical or sexual assault, some people may develop PTSD. When this happens, you may be emotionally numb or have frightening and lasting memories or thoughts of the event.
Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)
With OCD, you’re likely to perform certain routines or rituals because you’re plagued with constant fears or thoughts. Thus, obsession comes from disturbing thoughts, while compulsions refer to rituals. For instance, people suffering from OCD constantly wash their hands because of an unreasonable fear of germs.
You become inflexible and extreme when suffering from this condition. These personality traits can cause problems in social relationships, school, or work and may even distress you. That’s because your patterns of behavior and thinking are significantly different from what society expects. It means your normal functioning is so rigid than what typical people have.
Impulse Control And Addiction Disorders
As its name sounds, people with this disorder can’t resist impulses or urges to do anything that may harm others or themselves. Some of these acts are compulsive gambling, kleptomania, or pyromania. People suffering from these conditions are so obsessed with the objects of their addiction.
This mental health condition may involve food and weight from extreme behaviors, attitudes, and emotions. These include binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa.
Some of the most common mood disorders are cyclothymic disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression. People who have such a disorder can feel extreme sadness to extreme happiness or have persistent feelings of being overly happy or sad for periods.
When you have such disorders, you respond to specific situations or objections with dread and fear. In addition, you may also exhibit sweating, rapid heartbeat, and other physical signs of panic or anxiety. These responses are unusual in situations where they interfere with normal functioning, or you can’t control them.
Here, you may have distorted thinking and awareness. It means you may be having delusions or hallucinations. Delusions refer to believing false fixed beliefs as true while hallucinations refer to experiencing sounds or images that aren’t real. A typical example of this is schizophrenia.
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How To Look After Your Mental Health?
Now that you’re familiar with the mental illnesses you may suffer if you don’t care for your mental health, the next is to avoid developing such disorders. Or if you already have one, seeking mental health treatment is the best step to get help. And, of course, you may want to consider doing the following ways to take care of your mental health, whether you want to avoid or you’re already suffering from mental health disorders:
1- Be Physically Active
By being active, you may feel better overall. When physically active, you can relax, reduce stress, and improve your sleep. That’s because physical activity helps release serotonin and endorphins, known as feel-good chemicals. And these chemicals are known to make you feel good and improve your mood.
Other benefits of exercise include the following:
– Reducing or preventing depression or anxiety
– Reducing blood sugar
– Improving cholesterol and blood pressure
– Increasing energy
– Providing distractions from unhealthy thoughts
– Boosting alertness, concentration, and mood
If you’re starting or you’re not an exercise enthusiast, you can start with small amounts of physical activity. It can make a difference, so you may want to try the following as they can also help increase your physical activity levels:
– Housework such as vacuuming
– Ride or walk to work or school
– Take the stairs, not the lift
Or you can also involve yourself with hobbies that involve physical activities. Choose ones that you’ll enjoy or challenge you, such as the following:
– Bike riding
– Outings that include walking along the beach or river
– Go for bush walks or spend time in nature
– Join sports competitions
Being physically active allows you to become busy, giving you no time to think about negative things that can affect your well-being. So, ensure you engage in any activity to help keep your mental health in check.
2- Connect With Nature
Nature is also known to improve mental well-being. You can increase your brain power by enabling more oxygen to reach your brain when you get some fresh air. You can also boost your sense of well-being and ease your brain into a relaxed state by looking at nature. And since nature has a calming atmosphere, this experience improves your mood and reduces stress.
Thus, you may want to spend some time outside, even for just a few minutes when you’re working. Use your breaks to go outdoors, smell the fresh air, watch the sky, and feel the wind or the sun’s heat.
3- Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness may also help in taking care of your mental health. When you’re mindful, you’re observing your sensations of sound, sight, smell, touch, and taste, besides your feelings and thoughts. In short, you’re fully aware of your surroundings since you pay attention to what’s happening outside you at the moment.
On the other hand, you’re not mindful when you don’t notice what’s happening around you. It could happen when you’re doing your daily routines, such as waking up and going to school or work. Or you don’t notice the taste of what you’re eating in front of the TV. These situations make you operate on autopilot since you perform routine activities in your usual surroundings.
But when you’re mindful, you can anchor yourself in the present. You become aware of what’s happening and can stop if you’re caught in negative thoughts or habits. For instance, you can adjust your responses before becoming entrenched in negative self-talk, perceptions, anxieties, and emotions.
Moreover, mindfulness also teaches you to become open and more accepting. It means you don’t have to make a big deal out of whatever’s happening. You also don’t try to suppress it because your open and accepting attitude lets you accept the situation. Most importantly, you can deal positively with the situation since you can have more resources to do it when you don’t struggle with internal conflict. And that’s the main benefit of accepting your emotions.
With such, you can use mindfulness to manage your mental health and well-being by developing an attitude of acceptance and openness. With these, you can bring a new perspective and change your emotional patterns and habitual reactions.
For instance, you may waste time worrying about the future or thinking about the past. When you’re not mindful, your thoughts can overwhelm you, resulting in not falling asleep at night. Or you may excessively dwell on worries and problems about the future and the past because you react to these negative or stressful thoughts or feelings.
But when you practice mindfulness, you can put some space between your reactions and negative feelings or thoughts. You don’t get caught in them or not follow them because you can simply observe these thoughts. As a result, you can help reduce anxiety or stress from such thoughts because mindfulness lets you know that you must keep emotions and thoughts from interfering.
4- Get Enough Sleep
Insufficient sleep can make symptoms of mental health disorders worse. Besides, you’ll wake up in a crappy mood after tossing and turning at night. However, you can regulate your circadian rhythm when you have a good sleep. This rhythm is vital because it controls most of your behavioral and biological functions. It manages the process of synchronizing the brain’s master clock and the clock of each organ in the body.
However, you’re removing the opportunity for your body to get in sync when the circadian rhythm is dysregulated. As a result, you’re altering interpersonal, emotional, and motor functioning. You can avoid this by having a night of sufficient sleep, as it allows the alignment of such functions by keeping each organ’s clocks running simultaneously.
In addition, significant physiological disturbances and sleep disorders can develop when the circadian rhythm is disturbed. Sleep problems can also impair your cognitive capabilities, such as a decrease in language development, long-term memory, attention, and learning capabilities. These can manifest in longer sleep, various waking times, and insomnia.
5- Try Breathing Exercises
Aside from preventative ways to ensure you’re mentally healthy, you can also use breathing exercises to promote relaxation and reduce stress when feeling overwhelmed. Breathing exercises increase oxygen; in exchange, the tension in your abdomen is released, the heart rate is slowed, and blood pressure is reduced. And during the breathing exercises, you’re bringing yourself into the present, which can benefit your mental state.
Moreover, such exercises don’t require you to leave your desk or use equipment. So when your body is in fight or flight mode during stress, breathing exercises can calm your state of mind. With such, you can avoid stress buildup.
Your mental health is vital since you need it to function well in your daily responsibilities. You can focus on your tasks when you’re not overwhelmed with mental health concerns. You may want to start by being physically active, connecting with nature, practicing mindfulness, sleeping enough, and trying breathing exercises. All these can help you look after your mental health as they can prevent mental health concerns from developing into illnesses.