Being able to maintain mental health is a challenge during the best of times. Doing it in the midst of a pandemic that has had us isolated for over a year now and facing incredible stressors left and right? Well, I don’t think a word has been invented yet to capture the enormity of that task. Yet our wellbeing – physical and mental – relies upon us first being able to maintain mental health. Here are a few tips on how to do just that.
Be Good To Yourself
You can maintain mental health by making sure you’re treating yourself well. Life is hard right now. That isn’t your fault and beating yourself up about it is not the answer. Practice self-compassion and positive self-talk instead. We do better from a pep talk than a dressing down. That also applies to the way we talk to ourselves. After all – that is the voice we hear more than any other. Try to stay aware of how you’re talking to yourself and reframe your thoughts when they stray to the negative.
Isolation makes it hard to be motivated to get out and get moving. Physical exercise and the outdoors are like a one-two punch when we want to maintain mental health. Exercise releases endorphins which have been shown to decrease depression and anxiety while improving moods. Exercising outdoors increases the benefits to mental health. Spending just 20-30 minutes outside has proven to reduce stress levels. In fact, an analysis of 10 studies found that spending time in a green environment improved mood and self-esteem. Those struggling with mental illness experienced significant increases in their self-esteem and a reduction in depression symptoms.
Alcohol and other drugs are a stop-gap measure when it comes to maintaining mental health. Initially, we think they will help us to maintain mental health but the truth is they increase the very symptoms we’re trying to alleviate. Not to mention the abundance of other issues that using alcohol and drugs creates in our lives. During a time where we’re trying to limit our health risks, it doesn’t make sense to self-medicate with substances that can cause their own health issues.
Maintain Mental Health with The Alcohol Experiment
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The same old, same old routine we have lived in for the past year can be mentally draining. A change of routine or a change of scenery can make a huge difference. It doesn’t need to be an earth-shattering change – something as simple as taking a different route home or even just trying something new from the menu rather than ordering your usual can help shake things up and bring a fresh perspective. Of course, taking on a challenge like The Alcohol Experiment or learning a new skill like wood burning, refinishing furniture, or something else is also a way to bring some excitement and joy back into your life.
There is NO SHAME in reaching out for help when you need it. Even if you’re not sure if what you’re feeling warrants professional help. No one ever says I wish I hadn’t asked for help – only, I wish I’d said something sooner. One thing that has come from this pandemic is that it has lowered the barrier to entry for seeking mental health services. Crisis lines, telemedicine, online support groups, in addition to traditional settings are now available so you can find help in the format you’re most comfortable with. Reach out and allow yourself to get on the road to maintaining mental health more quickly.
What I Wish Someone Had Told Me to Maintain Mental Health
For years I tried to maintain my mental health while drinking. It culminated with crippling anxiety and depression despite being on multiple medications to treat it. I wish someone back then had said that my seemingly “normal drinking” was contributing to making me feel so “not normal.”
So once again, I will stress that even if everything seems overwhelming and that you just want to numb to make it go away – do not turn to alcohol and other drugs to do it. They will only add fuel to that fire you’re feeling consumed by.