Valentine’s Day serves as an annual reminder to show those closest to you that you love them. Whether it’s writing them a special note, showering them with delicious chocolates, or doing something kind to show that you care, there are many ways you can express your love. But when was the last time you showed yourself some love? Effectively managing your mental health is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself. After all, mental health affects the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with stress (1).
Here are six easy ways you can show some love to your mental health:
- Social connection: Having positive connections with others is critical to your mental wellness. Humans were not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Whether it’s taking your lunch break with co-workers, spending quality time with your significant other, or making family dinner a priority, give your brain the social companionship that it craves by taking time to socialize and connect with others. Remember, when you’re spending time with friends or family, be present; put your phone and other distractions away.
- Staying active: Your brain and body are one. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience a boost in your mental and emotional well-being. Physical activity also releases endorphins, which are powerful chemicals that lift your mood and increase energy. Regular exercise or activity can have a major impact on mental and emotional health problems, relieve stress, improve memory, and help you sleep better (1).
- Managing Stress: Not all stressors are avoidable, so it’s important to find ways to manage your stress and practice these techniques regularly. Things as simple as listening to calming music, lighting a scented candle, or enjoying your favorite flavored coffee can lower anxiety (2).
- Brain Healthy Eating: Again, because our brain and body are one, what we put into our body affects how our brain functions. An unhealthy diet can take a toll on your mood, disrupt your sleep, decrease your energy, and weaken your immune system. Conversely, switching to a wholesome diet, low in sugar, and rich in healthy fats, can give you more energy, improve your sleep and mood, and help you to look and feel your best.
- Quality Sleep: As an adult you should be getting an average of seven to nine hours of sleep every night in order for your brain to function at its peak. A few tips on improving the quality of your ZZZ’s include sticking to a strict sleep schedule, regular exercise, practicing a relaxing bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening, and turning off all electronics at least two hours before bed (3).
- Finding Your Purpose and Meaning: Having a purpose and meaning in your life not only can drive you to get out of bed in the morning, but it’s also essential to brain health as it can help generate new cells and create new neural pathways in the brain. Having a sense of purpose can also strengthen your immune system, alleviate pain, relieve stress, and keep you motivated to pursue the other steps to better mental and emotional health (1).
Now that you know how to show your brain some love, be sure to incorporate these techniques into your daily routine and make every day Valentine’s Day!
Jill Hamilton, Senior Project Coordinator http://www.thekimfoundation.org/
Jill Hamilton has been a Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation since 2014. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a Speech Communication Minor from The University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. Since working at the foundation, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition and The Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition, Nebraska LOSS Advisory Committee, The Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, is Chair of the Nebraska LOSS Teams Conference Planning Committee, and serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the Metro Area LOSS Team.