Mental wellness is so important for living a fulfilling and meaningful life. Our mental health impacts virtually every aspect of our existence, from how we think and feel to how we handle stress and relate to others.
Making mental wellness a priority can help us thrive and feel our best. Today, we'll explore what mental wellness is, why it matters, and provide actionable tips to start improving it.
Mental wellness refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and make decisions in our daily lives.
The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community".
Some key aspects of mental wellness include:
Mental wellness exists on a spectrum. We all have times when we feel more or less mentally well.
The goal isn't to feel happy and relaxed every moment of life. Instead, it's about fostering resilience to better handle inevitable ups and downs.
There are many reasons why making mental wellness a priority is so important:
The bottom line is that making mental wellness a priority benefits nearly every domain of life. Caring for our mental health is just as important as our physical health in living a full and happy life.
A stressful girl student due to academic pressures.
How can you tell if your mental health needs a boost? Here are some common warning signs of poor mental wellness to look out for:
If you notice several of these signs, it may indicate poor mental health and the need for lifestyle changes or professional help. Don't ignore the signs - take steps to improve your mental wellness.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by excessive worry, fear, and anxiety.
The good news is there are many simple, positive steps we can take to boost our mental health. Here are 10 evidence-based ways to start improving your mental wellness today:
Regular physical activity is a powerful depression and anxiety fighter. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and reduces stress hormones.
Aim for 30 minutes of activity per day, or break it into short 10-minute bursts. Find exercises you enjoy - even light walking can help!
What we eat directly impacts how we feel. Limit processed foods and emphasize whole foods like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated and avoid skipping meals. A nutritious diet fuels both body and mind.
Sleep issues take a toll on mental health. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours per night. Optimize your sleep by sticking to consistent bedtime routines, limiting screen use before bed, and making your bedroom dark and cool.
Unmanaged stress can become overwhelming. Try stress management techniques like mindfulness practices, deep breathing, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation. Setting aside time for hobbies you enjoy also helps relieve stress.
Studies show that spending time outdoors, especially surrounded by nature, reduces stress hormones. Aim to get outside for 30-60 minutes daily. Go for a walk, have lunch in a park, do some gardening, or spend time with pets outdoors.
We're social beings - we thrive on positive connections. Make time for loved ones, join groups related to your interests, and open up to those you trust about what you're going through. Social support is key for mental wellness.
While alcohol or drugs may seem relaxing, overuse often worsens anxiety and depression. Follow recommended limits, such as no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men. Avoid mixing substances and limit marijuana use.
Relaxation practices like meditation, deep breathing, massage, yoga, and mindfulness help activate the body's relaxation response, quiet worried thoughts and reduce tension. Even 5-10 minutes daily can make a difference.
If you're struggling with more severe depression or anxiety, seek professional mental health services. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors provide support, diagnosis, and treatment options like psychotherapy and medication. Don't be afraid to get help.
Boost your mental wellness by being gentler with yourself, both in your self-talk and daily habits. Acknowledge your efforts, get adequate rest, make time for fun, and do things that make you feel uplifted. You deserve self-care.
Making even small positive changes to your daily routine can improve your mental wellness over time. Be patient with yourself and reach out for help when needed - you don't have to do it alone. We all deserve to feel our best.
Mental health refers to our overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being on a spectrum from positive to negative. Mental illness refers specifically to diagnosable conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Someone can have poor mental health without a diagnosable illness.
Lifestyles that incorporate sufficient sleep, exercise, nutrition, stress management, social connection, purposeful activities, and avoiding substance overuse tend to promote the best mental health outcomes. Setting aside time for relaxation and fun is also beneficial.
Seeing a mental health professional can be very helpful if you're struggling with more severe or persistent depression or anxiety symptoms. Therapists provide tools to improve mental wellness like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness practices, and medication options. Don't be afraid to get support.
Consult a therapist or doctor if you notice major changes in sleep, appetite, energy levels, ability to function, or substance use. Additionally, thoughts of self-harm, excessive worrying, feelings of hopelessness, and withdrawal from others signal it's time to get professional support.
You can support a loved one by listening without judgment, encouraging positive coping strategies, helping reduce life stresses, going on walks together, and attending medical or therapy appointments. Don't try to "fix" their issues, just provide unconditional love and support.
Some early red flags include withdrawal from normal activities, dramatic mood swings, noticing unusual behaviors or beliefs, significant changes in sleep or energy, and excessive worrying or fear. Look for patterns over time vs. temporary mood changes. Addressing issues early improves outcomes.
Yes, mental illness can occur early in life. Anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, depression, eating disorders, and behavioral issues are some examples. It's important to watch for signs in kids like trouble in school, outbursts, loss of interest in fun, headaches, and avoidance of friends. Seek support.
Diet significantly impacts mental health. Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods to provide brain-supporting compounds like omega-3s, B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Limit processed foods, sugars, chemical additives, and trans fats which promote inflammation. Stay well hydrated.
Absolutely. Mental and physical health are closely interconnected. Poor physical health often worsens mental health issues, while poor mental health increases the risk of chronic physical illness. Taking care of both is essential. Things like exercise, nutrition, and sleep promote both mental and physical wellness.
Depression is a serious and common mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities.
There are many different sources of help and resources available for people with mental health issues, depending on the individual's needs and circumstances.
Some options include:
Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text “Helpline” to 62640, or email at email@example.com
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and The Samaritans@ 988 or 877-870-4673 Call or text 24/7,
It's important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and not weakness. It's important to find the right fit for you and don't hesitate to try different resources if one does not work for you.
Here are a few reputable online resources for mental health:
Please note that these resources provide general information and support and it's important to consult a professional if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition and seeking treatment.
Our mental wellness impacts every aspect of life. Fostering resilience, emotional health, strong social connections, purposeful activities, and positive habits are all keys to overall well-being. Don't hesitate to reach out for professional support if you need it. With some effort, we can all find balance and boost our mental health. What steps will you take today toward feeling mentally well?
 World Health Organization. (2018). Mental health: strengthening our response. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response
 Prince, M., Patel, V., Saxena, S., Maj, M., Maselko, J., Phillips, M. R., & Rahman, A. (2007). No health without mental health. The Lancet, 370(9590), 859-877.
 Dong, Maxia et al. “Adverse childhood experiences and self-reported liver disease: new insights into the causal pathway.” Archives of internal medicine vol. 163,16 (2003): 1949-56. doi:10.1001/archinte.163.16.1949
 Strine, T. W., Chapman, D. P., Kobau, R., Balluz, L., & Mokdad, A. H. (2004). Depression, anxiety, and physical impairments and quality of life in the US noninstitutionalized population. Psychiatric services, 55(12), 1408-1413.
 Carek, P. J., Laibstain, S. E., & Carek, S. M. (2011). Exercise for the treatment of depression and anxiety. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 41(1), 15-28.
 Opie, Rachelle S et al. “The impact of whole-of-diet interventions on depression and anxiety: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials.” Public health nutrition vol. 18,11 (2015): 2074-93. doi:10.1017/S1368980014002614
 Ratcliff, C. G., & Osepchook, C. C. (2021). Sleep duration and mental health outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 61, 101556. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1087079221001511
 Twohig-Bennett, C., & Jones, A. (2018). The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research, 166, 628-637.
 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2022). Drinking Levels Defined.