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I love music. Whenever I get the chance, I put music on and I dance like I have not a care in the world. I imagine for just that short moment in time that i’m a kid again and none of my adult responsibilities matter. That’s how I stay sane in this hectic world. What about you? What are your methods of dealing with stress and finding inner peace? What do the experts have to say about this? Here are the top three surefire ways that most experts agree will help you maintain good mental health habits:
1) Nourish your body and soul
Do this by eating well. Stay away from the bad foods. We all know what these are. It’s great to splurge once in a while, but if greasy foods and sugary treats are part of your daily diet, you are doing it wrong. Processed foods are your enemy, as are foods with lots of preservatives, additives and other chemicals. Eat lots of fruits and veggies. Challenge yourself by incorporating new vegetables into your old recipes. Drink lots of water up to four liters daily, and overall make healthy food choices.
This may seem difficult at first, but simply tweaking your diet here and there can have a huge impact on your health and you will be well on your way to developing better eating habits.
If you need more reason why eating well now will pay off in the long run, then get this: healthy eating habits will not only boost your energy, but you will look and feel better as well. Your cholesterol will be lowered, your waist size may reduce in size. All of these factors will positively impact your overall health, thus adding on to your life expectancy.
Never be afraid to take some “me” time. Find something you like to do and do it for a couple of hours every week. If you like to read, find a good book and read. If you like scrapbooking, find some time in your busy schedule to do just that. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Life can get hectic. Unplug once in a while. Sleep and relax. Take a spa day, splurge on an item you have been eyeing. You work hard, why not spend time on yourself once in a while? That feel good feeling you get when you focus on you will translate into a better, healthier you.
2) Exercise your body and mind
Exercise, in conjunction with a healthy diet, has been shown in study after study to be a positive predictor of prolonged life expectancy. What better way to blow off steam after a stressful day on the job than to run on the treadmill with your favorite club jam blaring from your iPod? Focus and imagine that with each stride, you are getting closer and closer to your goal whether it be losing weight, better health, or longevity.
Not only should you exercise your body, your focus should be on exercising your mind as well. Challenge your mind with something mentally demanding. While it is good to have a hobby in something you are good at, try something new that you have never tried before, it will challenge you mentally and heighten your intellect. Pick up a hobby that’s out of character. Take a class in something you have always wanted to do but could never fully convince yourself to. Jump right in. Who knows, you could be good at it. A recent study showed that in order to maintain our grey matter as we age, we should focus on exercising the mind. The human brain has an incredible ability to adapt, grow and change, and this continues even as we age. Stimulating the brain by trying new and challenging things can help create new and improved neural pathways, enhancing cognitive ability and help with improving mental health. Do puzzles, take a foreign language class, learn to play an instrument. All of these can help improve your mental and memory activity.
3) Nourish and form new relationships
Take time out to catch up and bond with old friends. Reach out. Socialize. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people, people who always point out the absurdities in life, can find humor in even the most challenging situations. Put down the cellphone, iPad, turn off the TV and communicate. Leave the kids at home and go out for a drink with friends every once in a while.
Friendship is not a one-way street. In much the same way that one expects of others, one must give of oneself as well. Give back. Mentor a foster child or a troubled teen. Sometimes, volunteering can help put things into perspective. That argument that you had with your sibling is nothing compared to the ills of the world that others face every day. Donate your time. If you have the ability, donate monetarily too. Doing good makes you feel good and feeling good is the aim here. Join a special interest group like a book club. You will not only encounter new activities, but meet new people with differing perspectives too.
The overall aim here is simple, do something that interests you and that can also help shift focus to something other than life’s stresses. For more information on how to maintain good mental and emotional health, see these sites:
1. Get involved: DoSomething.Org a non-profit organization with the goal of motivating young people to take action around social changes through national campaigns and grants for projects that make an impact.
2. General Crisis Support by Text:
Crisis Text Line: Text “SUPPORT” to 741741 to chat with a compassionate, trained counselor about anything.