Going to a therapist to resolve your mental health concerns may be the best thing to do. But there are times when opening up to a stranger may not be the most comfortable thing for you to do. According to National Mental Health Programme, it is estimated that about six to seven percent of the Indian population suffers from mental disorders, which include depression and anxiety among others. Worry not, as there are some ways to improve mental health on your own.
HealthShots consulted Archana Sharma, clinical and child psychologist, Sri Action Balaji Medical Institute, Paschim Vihar, Delhi, New to to know more about the alternatives of mental health therapy.
Ways to improve mental health
1. Focus on exercise, sleep and diet
If you thought that mental health is all about your thoughts and emotions then you are wrong. It is closely aligned with your physical strength, says Sharma. Exercise can uplift your mood and aid with depression as well as stress management. Seven to eight hours of quality sleep is strongly recommended as sleep deprivation can lead to depression in the long run. Nutritious food can make you feel healthier. Vitamins, especially B12 and D are good for mental health and help in even getting rid of depression (benefits of vitamin D for mental health).
2. Relaxation techniques
You can strengthen your body’s natural strength and relaxation response by using relaxation techniques. This can help you breathe more slowly, drop your blood pressure, and feel less stressed. There are numerous ways to unwind. You can use breathing techniques or mental imagery while tightening and relaxing certain muscle groups with progressive relaxation. With the use of guided imagery, you can learn to train your mind to focus on relaxing and concentrating on images. Deep breathing exercises are also highly beneficial.
There is sense of quietness and peace when you meditate, and so it can help your mental health. By focusing on something peaceful, you can also try to unwind and manage stress (beginner’s guide to meditation).
4. Stop drinking and smoking
Do you take a few sips of alcohol after a bad day? Some people drink and smoke as they think these will help them to cope with loneliness or help to improve mood. But these habits are not good for health. Try to opt for other measures to cope with tough times.
We all know that humans are social animals, and socialisation is something that helps in building healthy relationships with others. Social support is necessary to cope with stressful situations. So, try to have a network of people from different walks of life, suggests the expert.
6.Trust family and friends
Supportive friends and strong family ties can help to cope with stresses in life. They can keep you grounded with practical advice. A face-to-face meeting or calls or online interactions can help. Always be connected with your loved ones.
7. Positivity paybacks
Having a rational and logical outlook is important, so take a break from anything that’s negative. Changing your thought process will lead to positive emotions and payback. It helps in avoiding anger and sadness.
8. Practice gratitude
It is always good to be grateful for all the good things in life. Practicing gratitude would help a lot, and appreciate positive experiences (how practising gratitude can improve your life).
9. Be proactive
Be proactive as it helps in coping with tough and stressful situations. Perseverance and flexibility become good traits if you are proactive. With this, you can face any problem effectively.
10. Have self-esteem and self-pride
We all have certain qualities and traits. Self-esteem make us different from others. It is healthier to avoid self-pity and have pride in yourself.
Try these tips to improve mental health and embrace the idea of self-love to feel better. Also, don’t be shy about approaching a therapist if you feel the need for external help.