Your mental health is as important as your physical health. After all, it is one of the crucial aspects of holistic healing. Your mind and body work together to keep you healthy. So, aside from knowing how to eat healthier and exercising regularly, it’s also important that you know how to take care of your mental health.
One of the best things you can do for yourself, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, is to build habits that improve mental health. Yes, even if you’re not diagnosed with a mental health condition. Below are some of the good mental health tips we’ve collated from leading associations and organizations.
1. Recognize Your Stress Triggers and Symptoms
Stress affects every person differently. It also comes with physical signs that are often mistaken for an illness. These include fatigue, lack of energy, headaches, upset stomach, nausea, tense muscles, and insomnia. If you can identify your stress symptoms, you might be able to determine what triggered it — what did happen or what did you think about before you felt your symptoms? As you understand your triggers, you can manage them better next time. Ultimately, you’ll find your stress symptoms manifesting less frequently. (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
2. Stay Connected
Many of us have been feeling isolated since the pandemic started. Social distancing has forced people to stay home as much as possible. And even when we can go out, gatherings and staying too close to each other physically is greatly discouraged. However, this should not keep you from staying connected with family and friends you trust. Get in touch with them — you might be surprised that they, too, need someone to talk to. A simple chat can help you feel better especially when the going gets tough. (Asia Society Philippines)
3. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is your mind and body’s way of naturally recovering from daily stress. Lack of sleep can make you feel tired throughout the day. As a result, you may have difficulty focusing on activities, which can eventually lead to feelings of worry, irritability, and guilt. When you are unable to focus, you finish tasks more slowly than you like. To compensate for this, you might end up staying up late to meet deadlines. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Break this cycle by setting a strict bedtime. If you didn’t finish a task and it’s due soon, tell your superior or teacher about your concern. Don’t be afraid to ask for an extension and assistance, as long as you don’t abuse the privilege. (Sun Life Philippines)
4. Add Physical Activity to Your Daily Routine
In today’s digital world, many people would rather sit down and play with their mobile devices during their free time than perform physical activities. Working and studying from home also minimized physical movement further for a lot of us. However, instead of just Netflix and chilling, try incorporating even simple exercises into your daily routine. You can do this even when you’re at home. Here are some of the things you can start doing:
- Walk around the house for a few minutes every hour
- Do as many pushups as you can — you can do modified pushups for beginners
- Jog in place
- Try plank holds
- Perform desk or chair stretches
- Do household chores
When you exercise, feel-good brain chemicals are released. Becoming and staying fit and healthy also boosts your self-esteem. Exercise also helps improve focus and sleep. (Mental Health Foundation)
Your diet has a lot to do with how you can be mentally healthy and happy. A healthy body nurtures a healthy mind. Your brain needs a good mix of essential nutrients to stay healthy and remain functioning well. Following a holistic diet that focuses on junk foods and dumps junk food is a good way to start. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, too! (Mental Health Foundation)
6. Create Happiness
Here’s an important question: how to take care of your mental health when you’re unhappy? For some, it may be easier said than done, but as much as you can, try to find happiness around you. Do something you loved as a kid or maybe now’s the time to finally do what you always wanted to try, such as baking or learning to play the guitar. Watching cat and dog videos like this one is also an effective way to have a laugh. (Mental Health America)
How to Take Care of Yourself: Stop and Listen
It’s very easy to forget about yourself and your mental health when you’re busy. This is why every once in a while, you should pause and listen to your mind and body. Rest if you must. Talk to someone to vent out or simply share stories about your day. It’s time to take control of your stress and keep it from controlling you.
Furthermore, there’s no shame in admitting that you may need professional counseling. There are associations and groups you can reach out to that can provide you with objective assessment and advice.
Here are some psychological centers and organizations to contact for mental health support and services:
Contact number: +63 917 709 6961
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline (NCMH-USAP)
Contact number: +63 917 899 USAP(8727) / 7-989-USAP (8727)
3. Philippine Mental Health Association, Inc. (PMHA) Online Support
Contact number: +63 917 565 2036
Email address: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Email address: bulataocenter.Is@ateneo.edu
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