5 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health

2019 Jul 02
Author Susanna Oakley, Social Worker; Samantha Dunlap, Marketing Communications Specialist
Have you ever felt overwhelmed, stressed, down, or even depressed? You don’t have to have a diagnosis to struggle with mental health. We all experience stressful situations or losses in our lives that may affect how we feel on a day to day basis. But what does mental health mean? Mental health “includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act” (What Is Mental Health, 2019).

If we don’t care for our mental health, we may notice some of the symptoms below:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these feelings or behaviors, here are 5 ways you can care for your mental health.


1. Ask for help

Seeking out help is not a sign of weakness. When you are overwhelmed with our mental health, it is important to know where you can turn.
Look into therapy
Use www.psychologytoday.com to search for therapists in your area
Talk to your doctor about your symptoms
If you are patient at CCMC, call us at 989-224-3000 to schedule an appointment regarding any concerns you may have
If you are having thoughts of harming or killing yourself, please report to your nearest emergency room or call 911
Use the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for 24/7, free, confidential support

2. Care for your body

By focusing on caring for ourselves physically in the ways listed below, we can also make improvements with our mental health.
Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals
Avoid using tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs
Remember to drink water throughout the day
Move your body: do whatever type of exercise works for you
Research has found that exercise can be beneficial to reduce “anxiety, depression, and negative mood, and improves self‐esteem and cognitive functioning” (Callaghan, 2004).
Get enough sleep
Research has found that “a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation sets the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019).

3. Build coping skills

Various coping skills can be helpful when someone experiences increased stress or negative moods.
Try some anxiety reduction strategies including deep breathing, counting to ten, and progressive muscle relaxation
Try to quiet your mind using mindfulness or meditation
Use the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise to bring yourself back to the present moment. Think about…
Five things you can see around you
Four things you can touch
Three things you can hear
Two things you can smell
One thing you can taste

4. Do activities you enjoy

Value yourself by taking the time to do activities that you enjoy. These self-care activities are different for every person, but think about what brings you happiness and comfort in your life.
Examples include but are not limited to going for a walk, doing a craft, planting a garden, baking or cooking, getting a massage, drinking coffee/tea, reading a book, listening to music, watching your favorite show, etc.

5. Lean on your support systems

It is important to maintain a support network of close family and friends when someone is experiencing mental health concerns. By connecting with others, one can feel less isolated.
Call a close friend or family member
Make plans to see a friend or family member
Seek out a new activity to meet new people
Volunteer
Share your feelings and experiences with others

References

Callaghan, P. (2004). Exercise: A neglected intervention in mental health care? Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing,11(4), 476-483. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2850.2004.00751.x
Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, March 18). Sleep and mental health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health
Health, Help, Happiness Find a Therapist. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
What Is Mental Health? (2019, April 5). Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health