How To Be Happier: 12 Ways To Improve Your Mental Health

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Small daily habits can make a big difference in how you approach things. We all want to be happy, which in simple terms means to be satisfied with the way we live our lives. Happiness is not an emotion, but a result of how people live their lives. Research shows that the three building blocks of happiness are enjoyment, satisfaction and purpose. 

Enjoyment is defined as activities that create pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. Satisfaction is the joy of fulfilling our desires or expectations. Purpose is a meaningful life. 

Research also highlights the importance of social connections, the lack of which is a key factor among people struggling with mental health problems.

Here are some specific strategies supported by research to improve your mental health.

1. Spend time with friends

Human connection is the key. Loving, supportive family members can lift our spirits. However, family relationships are often accompanied by feelings of guilt, obligation, and resentment. Our relationships with friends are less likely to carry this baggage, which makes friends an invaluable support system. 

2. Volunteer

Volunteering is an opportunity for social interaction; it gives people a sense of meaning and purpose; it can build self-confidence and self-esteem, and it creates a sense of accomplishment. One of the great benefits of volunteering is that the more you do it, the happier you become. You do not have to be happy to benefit from it or to participate. In fact, studies show that people who start out with lower levels of well-being can receive an even greater boost in happiness from volunteering.

3. Keep a gratitude diary

People can improve their mental health by consciously counting their blessings, experts say. A study at the University of California, Berkeley, divided 300 people who sought counseling into three groups. One group was instructed to write a letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks. A second group was asked to write about their deepest feelings about their negative experiences. The third group was not assigned any writing activity. The team that wrote the thank-you notes had significantly better mental health after the end of the writing exercise, and that was still the case two months later, according to the study.

4. Meditate

Meditation trains you to be fully present in the moment and not to be overly reactive or overwhelmed by events around you. Numerous studies show that meditation can help with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and these results are comparable to other existing therapies. There are free online tutorials to teach you the techniques and guide you through the process.

5. Manage your expectations

It is no secret that unrealistic expectations can contribute to anxiety, stress and depression. Therefore, it is important for people who feel stressed to consider their expectations and, if necessary, to work on adjusting their mindset. Adjusting unrealistic expectations can bring huge benefits and a renewed sense of peace.

mental health

6. Take time for fun

Many people think that fun is trivial; they do not realize that it is essential. Find what gives you pleasure: reading books, listening to music, painting, going to the movies? Put as much as you can into your schedule and your daily routine.

7. Work out

Many studies have linked exercise to improved mental health, especially in people with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. Some studies have even found that exercise is just as effective as antidepressants – and without the side effects associated with the medication. Thirty minutes of exercise a day, for three to five days a week, can significantly improve the symptoms of depression or anxiety, according to Mayo Clinic. However, smaller amounts of physical activity – 10 to 15 minutes at a time – can also make a difference.

8. Spend time in nature

A 2019 study on the impact of nature on mental health found that contact with nature is associated with an increase in happiness, subjective well-being, positive emotions, positive social interactions, a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as a reduction in mental discomfort. In fact, even the view of nature outside the windows of the home or work is associated with less mental discomfort. Children who grow up in greener areas are significantly less likely to develop psychiatric disorders later in life, such as depression, mood disorders. , schizophrenia, eating disorders and substance use disorder.

9. Get a pet

Pets can offer love and companionship, relieve feelings of isolation and loneliness, reduce levels of depression and anxiety, and improve life satisfaction. In addition, owning a dog gives people more reasons to go for walks and visit parks – activities that are also good for mental health.

10. Get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation is closely linked to mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety, experts say, although there are times when insomnia is a symptom versus cause of mental health problems. This means that improving sleep can help improve mental health problems and it is important for people who feel anxious or depressed to practise good sleep hygiene.

11. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant that can disrupt brain chemistry. While drinking can initially make people feel more relaxed and unobstructed, it can also cause an increase in negative emotions such as anxiety, depression and/or anger. Alcohol can also increase the side effects of some antipsychotic drugs. In some cases, people with depression who stop drinking may find that their symptoms improve within a few weeks, experts say.

12. Eat right

Just as diet can affect your physical health, it can also affect your mental health. So improving your diet can improve your mood, give you more energy and help you think faster, says Mind, a UK mental health organization. People with mental health problems need to eat regular, healthy meals and stay hydrated. Get enough protein and manage caffeine.

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