Mental illness is far too common in the US. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five US adults suffered from a mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people). Living through a dangerous and unfamiliar pandemic with a nationwide lockdown has severely increased the number of those who experience a decline in their mental health. However, with these numbers increasing, how can you improve your mental health in 2022?
1. Value Yourself
It can be so easy to put yourself down or talk bad about yourself in a world where expectations are so high. Are you skinny enough? Are you smart enough? Are you a good parent? We all strive to be the best, most perfect, versions of ourselves, however, this is only setting ourselves up for failure. The first step on how to improve your mental health in 2022 is treating yourself with kindness and respect.
Make time for yourself and the things you enjoy. Practice positive daily affirmations in the mirror before starting your day. Taking time to decompress and enjoy the moments you have alone is important for your mental well-being.
2. Take Care of Yourself
Healthy body, healthy mind. We aren’t talking about becoming a bodybuilder or bikini model. Yes, exercise is very important to keep your body strong and healthy, however, there are other ways that are just as important. These include:
- Eating a balanced and nutritious diet
- Avoid smoking or excessive drinking
- Drink plenty of water
- Move your body, whether that is going to the gym, taking a walk, or dancing.
- Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can contribute to a decrease in your mental state.
3. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Keneth G. Ortiz said, “Be wary of the company keep for they are a reflection of who you are, or who you want to be.” Surrounding yourself with positive and motivating people is so important because you truly become like the company you keep. Those who have a strong family or social group are healthier and more positive than those who lack a support network.
This is why community plays a big role in addiction and mental health treatment. It is encouraged to find a community of positive peers and sponsors to help you improve your mental health, rather than bring you down.
4. Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering your time and energy to help others is rewarding for both you and the community. It is a chance to do something positive, as well as make new friends who have the same passion to help others. Volunteering actually reduces stress and increases positive and relaxed feelings by releasing dopamine.
5. Learn How to Manage Stress
Everyone deals with stress, some more than others, however, it is a natural part of life. The important part is how we respond and deal with stress. Find the best way to help you manage your stress, whether it’s by meditating, yoga, taking a walk around the block, or journaling. There are many ways to help relieve or manage stress but it is important to find which works best for you.
6. Quiet Your Mind
Mental health starts with the brain. Oftentimes, our brains are going in over speed and it can be hard to escape our thoughts and slow the mind. Some of the best practices to quiet your mind include:
- Relaxation exercises
There are hundreds of resources available to help you quiet the mind including the Calm app or Headspace.
7. Set Realistic Goals
For every aspect of your life, it is important to decide what you are looking to accomplish in the future and set yourself goals to achieve this. It gives you something to work towards and a rewarding feeling when you hit those milestones. As kids, our parents tell us to aim for the starts and although this is true, setting realistic goals with a realistic schedule is the only way to succeed and not burn yourself out.
Write down what you want to accomplish within the next week, month, and year, as well as how you are going to get there. Track your progress, and remember, it is alright to adjust your goals when you need to.
8. It’s Okay to Break Routine
Creating a routine and a healthy balance in our lives is important, but it can seem dreary at times. Change is okay every once and a while. Planning a spontaneous road trip can help you clear your mind and experience a change of pace. However, it is important to return back to a healthy routine following these little breaks.
9. Avoid Alcohol and Other Substances
To improve your mental health in 2022 it is important to keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum and avoid other substances altogether. Alcohol and drugs have been used to self-medicate, however, they only worsen the problem. They can create a bigger issue when taken too far which is why it is important to stay away from these harmful substances as best as you can.
10. Get Help When You Need it
There are many treatment centers, like the Harm Reduction Center, that help with mental health treatment, as well as addiction. Taking the first step to getting help can be scary, however, HARC helps you every step of the way. We are a private health care facility that offers inpatient and outpatient mental health services. We cater each treatment plan to your specific needs because we know treatment is not a one size fits all solution.
Contact us today to begin improving your mental health this year!