Written by Alysson A Calver, Exclusive for Khalm Skincare®
Slowly but surely, the idea that we don’t focus enough on mental health is beginning to take root. For one thing, people are becoming more aware of the direct risks to wellbeing caused by poor mental health. For another, the connection to physical health is becoming clearer, with recent research from Duke University and the University of Michigan suggesting that treating mental health in young people leads to better long-term physical wellbeing. And if all of this progress weren’t enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has shined a blazing spotlight on mental health needs. A year in isolation appears to have been enough to spark real, widespread conversation about how we can all take better care of ourselves.
This all makes for terrific progress! And in the spirit of learning to take better care of ourselves, we’ve decided to write up five potential lifestyle changes you might consider to improve your own mental health.
1. Talk About It!
Our first tip may not even strike you as a lifestyle change, but it is certainly a behavioral shift for many people, at the very least. The bottom line is, most of us are not in the habit of talking about mental health, even in positive ways! There is a long-standing stigma around the issue, such that even if you aren’t consciously avoiding the topic, chances are that on some level you feel it’s private.
So our advice is simple: Follow the lead of Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey! Just before the time of this writing, a new interview profiled on People saw the prince and the mogul encouraging viewers to share stories about mental health, and to be more open about the topic. The background for this advice was essentially Prince Harry’s decision to be open about his own struggles, and it wound up being a powerful example. If some of the most successful and privileged people on the planet can be open and vulnerable about these issues, so can the rest of us. Doing so helps a lot in the end.
2. Fix That Diet
We won’t go into a whole nutrition kick in the midst of a piece on mental health, but suffice it to say most of the things you recognize to be good habits with regard to diet also happen to be great for mental health. Things like eating breakfast regularly, getting enough fruits and vegetables, and avoiding excess junk food actually have a chemical impact on you. They keep you more nutritionally balanced in such a way that you’ll have more energy, more positivity, and a better ability to manage stress. So get up and make that green smoothie!
3. Read More, Watch Less
We’re at a point at which it’s pretty well understood that most of us subject ourselves to far more screen time than is necessarily healthy. And yet, because this is simply the way of the world, most of us shrug off the idea of doing anything about it. We aren’t going to spend less time texting, because that’s how we connect to friends and family; we aren’t going to stop scrolling through social media, because that’s our link to the wider world.
What is more feasible however is finding specific opportunities here and there to “disconnect” by swapping a real-world activity for one you participate in through a screen. And the easiest example is to read, rather than watch content when relaxing. In other words, skip your next HBO Max binge and read through a magazine, or a few chapters into a new novel. It’s not a comprehensive mental health solution by any means, but you may just find that you feel a bit more refreshed if you make a habit of these occasional swaps. The constant connectivity can dull us a little bit, and engaging with material you get outside of a screen is almost oddly invigorating.
4. Speak to a Health Professional Regularly
This is a fairly minor lifestyle change the can pay off in a big way. The right health professional can help you to identify mental health issues, better your habits, and ultimately stay on the right track toward consistent personal wellness. And in case it sounds like a lot of trouble to go to, we should also note that seeing a quilted health professional on a semi-regular basis is easier than you might expect! This is because there are a number of different professionals in the field who can help with this sort of thing (meaning it’s not quite like booking regular appointments with your primary care doctor).
For one thing, you may be able to link up with a nurse trained specifically in mental health. The last several years have brought about significant new online educational options for practicing nurses that can help them to train for more specific and advanced areas of care. A page concerning online RN-to-BSN degrees at Maryville University states that this is helping to fulfill a call for more educated nurses — which in turn is boosting fields like mental health and many others. Meanwhile, beyond nurses altogether, you can also seek help with those in the psychology and psychiatry fields — who more than ever will now be open to remote appointments, making them more accessible as well.
Make these appointments semi-regular, and you’ll do better to stay on top of your mental health.
5. Tackle That Skincare Routine!
Last but not least, remember to take care of your skin and other aspects of your body and hygiene! As was written in ‘A College Student’s Guide to Skincare During Quarantine’, this is always a great way to relax, even (or perhaps especially) in trying times. It is also a good way to really focus on taking care of yourself. When you’re going about a thorough skincare routine, you’re communicating to yourself that you are worth the time, and that self-care is an everyday option. That alone can make for a tremendous boost to mental health!