In the last few decades, Psychology grew exponentially as a field of study, and so did the understanding of the human mind and its mechanisms. As a result, mental health has been receiving a lot of attention from the common people, being considered one of the fundamental pillars of wellbeing. On the other hand, some people still perceive it as a secondary or tertiary concern and its improvement or maintenance as a luxury only accessible to an exclusive group of people that can afford therapists, perpetuating the stigma around mental health in general.
Talking about mental health isn’t necessarily talking about mental illness. Initiatives like emotional intelligence training focused on children are proof of the impact that simple improvements can make, in this particular case, preventing bullying and giving the opportunity to children to learn about their feelings and emotions, raising their own self-knowledge. The impact that certain actions and attitudes can have on our life and wellbeing is wider and more powerful than we can normally perceive. They can reinforce of weaken choices or change our perception on others and ourselves, for example.
Here are some tips you can consider and put to practice if you want to improve your mental health or maintain good wellbeing levels:
- Focus on relationships
Since the very beginning, Humans tend to live in groups and have social relations. That isn’t exclusive to us either: our bonobo “cousins” seem to exhibit interesting interactions with others, in this case aiming to build friendly bonds. The lesson to learn here is: we have more chances to survive if we work together. We are social beings by trait, most of us feel the urge to interact, to communicate, to cooperate, and most of Humanity’s biggest achievements aren’t one-man efforts.
Working on good and healthy relationships with your loved one, friends, family, coworkers is crucial, and expanding that network is also very important (even though it’s a harder task when you get older). Investing in those relationships will satisfy your emotional needs, will provide support when needed the most and will make you feel like you belong to a group.
Try to avoid people that pull you down and be there for those who lift you up: reciprocity is a key factor to a great relation. And, if you can, try to meet up in person, because text messages, phone calls and direct messaging will never replace face to face conversations.
- Get to know yourself
Self-knowledge is often overlooked and underrated but being able to answer the question “Who am I?” in detail is fundamental to make wise decisions and understand yourself. Knowing your skills, limitations and personality traits will help you understand and predict actions, establish long term objectives, evaluate if you are the right fit for a certain activity or not. Being self-aware is actually one of the most important skills for your career, so start working on it if you are aiming for success!
Knowing your personality traits will also make you understand abnormal emotional states and reactions, which can be a great way to prevent mental illnesses from aggravating. You have to keep in mind the typical warning signs and if you believe you need help, please seek a therapist. There is no shame in asking for help. Even strong, confident and successful people like the top players in the NFL future odds open up about their mental health issues so you should too!
- “Mens sana in corpore sano”
This piece of ancient Latin knowledge is actually very simple: healthy body, healthy mind. Workouts and a good diet not only reduce the risks regarding physical health (i.e reducing coronary risk), but they can also play a key role in mental health. A study from the Behavior Research and Therapy journal shows the effects of aerobic exercise on anxiety sensitivity, demonstrating that workout might me a great way to reduce anxiety in general.
There is also a great social side to some physical exercises, like team sports. Those can be a great way to improve your social network, either meeting new people with the same interests or cooperating with your friends or coworkers. Your goal here shouldn’t be winning, it should be having a good time!