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Are you feeling depressed lately and wondering how to improve your mood? Are you in the midst of getting over a significant loss in your life and wondering how to keep your mind healthy as you grieve? Are you interested in how you can maintain a healthy mind to keep your body healthy?
Mental health is a complex subject-- it's hard to define and difficult to grasp all of the different aspects of mental health. Still, however, there are simple steps that you can take in your life to keep your mind healthy.
Check out these practical tips for maintaining a healthy mind! Employ just a few of these ideas and you'll likely feel the difference in your mental health.
1) Make sure you’re getting enough rest. Sleep is the body’s way of recharging, meaning that sleep doesn’t only increase your energy—it actually boosts your mental health.
2) Feel what you feel! Don't worry about controlling or changing your feelings. For now, focus on expressing the feelings that you have rather than trying to feel a certain way.
3) Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Messing up is a part of life, and mental health requires understanding that and moving past mistakes in our lives. Is there a mistake or regret that eats at you? Let. It. Go.
4) Throw a mini-party for yourself! Celebrate a recent accomplishment in your life by patting yourself on the back and rewarding yourself with a small gift you've been looking forward to. It's important to acknowledge successes-- not just failures.
5) Find a good support system. Whether family, friends, a church, or something else, find a group of people who are willing to love you for who you are. This boosts resilience and helps to provide perspective in the midst of stress and pain.
6) Eat healthy. Invest time in learning which kinds of foods bring you “up” and which kinds bring you “down.” Committing to a diet can make you feel good about yourself, give you a sense of self-improvement, and boost your sense of accomplishment.
7) Exercise. Regularly exercising can help to cut back stress in your life, releasing pent up energy as you work your body. Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals in the brain that energize us.
8) Get some sun. Sunlight can lift one’s spirits, boosting mental health and preventing depression.
9) Leave some time for leisure. Make sure you allow time in your schedule for whatever causes you to relax. Maybe it's watching movies or completing crossword puzzles or walking outside. Make time for the things you know relax you.
10) Stay away from drugs and alcohol. When you consume cigarettes, illegal drugs, and alcohol, these drugs tamper with your mental health, decreasing mental stability and giving you “false positive” emotions.
11) Commit to helping others. You can build self-esteem and self-worth by regularly pouring out your energy and talents to help others. Volunteering is another activity that releases endorphins, boosting your mood.
12) Do things that require discipline. Self-control increases self-worth, as you feel like you can control aspects of your life.
13) Learn something new! Part of what makes us human is our tendency to challenge ourselves. Challenge yourself to learn something new-- maybe a new skill, sport, or game.
14) Spend time enjoying art. Studying artwork exercises our minds and encourages us to think creatively. Take some time to visit a gallery or an art show-- you may return with a new perspective on your situation.
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15) Find a good listener, and return the favor. Find one person who is willing to listen to you vent and talk freely. It can also relieve stress to form a listening partnership, where the two of you share on a regular basis.
16) Stick to your friends! Do what you can to intentionally keep in touch with a circle of friends. Schedule lunches, dates, or get-togethers with your friends more often. Deep friendships remind us of a sense of belonging.
17) Make the decision not to worry. Worry will consume your mind if you let it, but you can also train yourself to avoid worry, to choose a life without anxiety. Ask God to help you not to worry.
18) Do things that engage your senses. Each day, perform one task that engages each of your senses: sight, touch, smell, sound, and taste. Engaging your senses helps you to live in the moment and focus on the present.
19) Leave time to build and create! Even if it's just LEGOs or a can of Play-doh, it's important to engage our creative sides frequently. When the mind gets into a rut of the same sort of thinking, it gets sick. Keep it well by staying creative.
20) Consider getting a pet. This is a big decision, but having a pet can really help mental health. Pets love us unconditionally, keep us active, and provide us a way to care for something.
21) Leave time for nothing. Make sure your schedule has a little room for free time: time that is unbudgeted. Use that time for meditation, prayer, or relaxation exercises.
22) Cut out late-night TV and computer use. Studies have shown that watching TV and using a computer late at night can cause depressive symptoms.
23) Spend time with people every day. Find people who are like you and who like you. This one seems pretty obvious, but it's easy to forget when you're depressed or down. Interacting with people is likely part of the solution, not the problem.
24) Work to understand what stresses you. Understand your stressors and be able to recognize how you need to react. Be informed about what is happening in your mind and body.
25) Give and receive compliments. Find reasons to praise people, and be willing to accept people's praises of you. This will help you to appreciate the good in those around you and recognize it in yourself.
26) Join a club or social group that meets regularly. This will help to create a community in your life, fueling purpose and camaraderie.
27) Leave time to laugh. Try to laugh hysterically every day. Feed yourself funny things, allowing your mind to decompress from time to time.
28) Accept that there are some things you cannot change. A lot of anxiety stems from trying to change things beyond our control. Recognizing that some things are beyond our control is a key to a healthy, anxiety-free mind.
29) Engage in spirituality on a regular basis. Make sure you're exercising not just your mind and your body but also your spirit. Interact regularly with a spiritual community. Putting faith in God relieves stress on ourselves.
30) Talk to God about where you’re at. Interact with God in prayer on a daily basis and allow God to be a part of your stress-reduction strategy. He’s been doing it for thousands of years—He’s got a little more practice than you do.
Maybe you have been exercising regularly for a couple months, but are still seeing no changes. The next step is to take a look at your nutrition. What kinds of foods are you putting into your body? Are you eating too much or too little food? Are you eating enough meals during the day?
Here are some tips that will help you make the changes that will help jump start your metabolism and help you to lose fat.
Drink plenty of water!
When I say plenty of water I don't mean 8- 8oz glasses of water, I mean 80-100 oz. of water everyday especially if you are doing lots of cardio. Being dehydrated can and will mess with your metabolism. Water is such a simple thing and yet most of us have the most trouble getting enough down everyday, so DRINK UP.
Start tracking your meals and calories. --NOPE
The very best thing you can do is track your calories. Start out by writing down what you normally eat for a week or so to see just exactly you have been putting in your body. Then, you should figure what calorie range you need to be eating in. Some people are not eating enough food, which makes their metabolism slow down and makes it harder to lose fat. Track your calories, staying in your range, using one of the following free meal trackers: sparkspeople.com Calorie Calculator and fitday.com
Don't cheat yourself, you must enter everything. Even that little nibble of your kids sandwich. In the long run you will be happy you did. Most people find that when they have to be accountable for every little bite, they are more likely not to have it!
Here is how to determine your caloric needs and tell you how many calories per day you need to be eating to aid in fat loss:
For fat loss= multiply your body weight by 12-13 = your calories *Maintenance (TDEE)= multiply your body weight by 15-16 = your calories *Weight gain= multiply your body weight by 18-20 = your calories
This is a basic way of finding a calorie range. It does not take into account the amount of calories you are burning with your workouts. The Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle e book by Tom Venuto book goes into more detail and you can get an exact formula.
Pay attention to food labels.
When you are in the grocery store, you should do most of your shopping on the outside of the store, where the foods with little to no preservatives are. Of course you will need to go into the isles to grab your canned foods and spices. Read the labels and if there are ingredients that you can't even pronounce, its likely its not a food you want to be putting into your body. Organic and all natural foods are very good choices.
Eat foods closest to their natural state: Right out of the ground, off a tree or right from the animal! --NOPE
For instance oatmeal is close to its natural state, but wheat thins are NOT! Choose 100% whole wheat when buying bread or tortillas. Whole grain does not always mean healthy, so it is very important to read those labels. Another very good rule of thumb is if you cannot pronounce it, don't eat it! It is most often chemicals that are very hard for your body to digest. Sugar is very processed, so is splenda. Your best choice for sweetener is stevia. I The creamers that are premixed and flavored are full of chemicals also, so beware. Half & half does have more fat but worth the extra fat for its non-chemical state. This may be hard to get the hang of at first, but after while you will become a pro on knowing which foods are best to be putting into your body.
Eat 5-7 times a day. --NOPE
This may be very hard at first, especially if you are only used to eating 2-3 meals. But your body will adjust pretty quick and you will start to have more energy. Smaller meals every 2-3 hours is the best way to eat. This way your body is getting just enough to use for energy and wont be storing the extra calories as body fat. Make sure that most of your meals contain a protein, such as meat or cheese, healthy carbs, such as fibrous vegetables and healthy fats, such as olive oil or peanuts.
Use these tips daily and you will be well on your way to losing that body fat and fitting into those favorite pair of jeans you have been saving!