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Our Mental health has a symbiotic relationship with our physical health – why it is important to look after both

So, it’s quite a challenging period of our existence. The pandemic did a number on virtually everyone, and apparently, we are still in for a long ride — at least, until everybody gets vaccinated.

While schools, offices, parks, and beaches are under locks and keys, the only thing one can do is stay indoors and hope that the virus gets behind us and let us all go back to our normal lives.

Until then, sitting at home for long has taken its toll on most people worldwide, and the pressure is putting a strain on our mental health. There have been reports of increased depression and anxiety cases since the pandemic started because of the hard times and sudden turn of events.

If you are going through any mental health problems, don’t throw in the towel just yet, there are quite a lot you can do to improve your mental health while at home.

What is mental health?

Before we share tips on how you can take care of your mental health, let’s take a second or two to understand what mental health means. Shall we?

So, your mental health refers to psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing. Virtually everything you do, from how you think, feel, and react to situations us tied to your mental health. And it doesn’t end there!

Your mental health also influences how you deal with everyday stress, relate with others, and the choices you make as you push through life.

Because our mental health is not limited to one particular stage of our lives, it affects us from childhood, adolescence through adulthood. Mental health is often a reflection of all our experiences, including mood, behavior, and how we think over time.

What are the factors that affect our mental health?

You have probably been wondering, what are the factors that contribute to mental health challenges?

A direct and straightforward answer is that many factors contribute to mental health challenges. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Life experiences such as abuse or trauma
  • Biological factors such as brain chemistry and genes
  • Mental health problems can also be traced to the family (genetics)

Contrary to popular misconceptions about mental health, victims of mental health challenges can undergo treatment and get better afterward.

What are the signs of mental health problems, you ask?

There are usually warning signs of mental health problems, and it would be best to seek medical help once you notice any of them.

Here is a list of some early signs of mental health problems:

1. Having low or no energy

2. Secluding oneself from people and events

3. Feeling helpless or hopeless

4. severe mood swings that are affecting your relationship with others

5. Always feeling on edge, angry, worried, forgetful, or scared.

How to improve your mental health

Until the lockdown is lifted and we can all get back to our lives, we will probably be indoors for some time. While spending time at home, let’s highlight how you can improve your mental health.

Engage in exercises

Yeah, you read that right. Exercise. You have probably been wondering what exercise has got to do with your mental health. If may internet you to know that exercise can boost your mood.

Exercise promotes endorphins production, also known as the happy hormones, into the bloodstream, which uplifts your moods and makes you feel good.

Exercise is a perfect way to stave mild symptoms off. In addition to helping you feel happier and dealing with depression, engaging in exercise also helps you to stay fit and achieve your fitness goals— which is also a mood booster. While you are at it, have it in mind that exercise isn’t always about sports and hitting the gym. It also includes doing housework, gardening, or taking a walk in the park. The idea is to stay active.

Stay in touch with family and friends

At times like this, when virtually everybody is locked in, it is almost impossible to visit your friends and loved ones. But isolating yourself for too long is not ideal for your mental health — your mind could wander off to depressing thoughts.

Thanks to technology, you can still connect with friends via phone, chatting, texts, or by doing something fun online. Some people share and watch movies online via video conferencing on zoom and other platforms. Of course, there are other fun games and activities you play online and socialize with your buddies. Just be creative! The idea behind staying in touch with friends is to uplift your spirits.

Work on your hobbies

Working on your hobbies is an excellent way to relieve stress. Suppose you don’t have a hobby and you are looking to get one. Your hobby doesn’t have to be strenuous or difficult. It should be simple, and you should be able to work on it from home.

You can consider gardening for starters, and if you have a thing for music, you can channel your time into learning how to play guitar or any other instrument.

Some people may prefer to play video games, and others may decide to take up writing. When it comes to choosing a hobby, there is no one-size-fits-all. All you have to do is stick to whatever works for you.

Talk about your feelings

Contrary to popular misconceptions, talking to people about your feeling doesn’t make you less of the “man” or “woman” you are. As the famous saying goes, “a problem shared is half solved.” This is especially true when dealing with a mental health problem. Venting or letting out whatever is on your mind is good for your mental wellbeing and gives you a sense of support. As such, you don’t feel like you are cornered against a wall or alone.

Take care of your body — Eat healthily!

As they say, we are what we eat. There is a strong link between what you eat and how you feel, and it’s always best to steer clear of caffeine and sugar.

It will help a lot if you make out time to eat healthily. You should have a balanced diet often. The food you eat fuels your body and can have a lasting effect on your mental health because the brain also feeds from whatever you eat.

A healthy diet or balanced diet includes plenty of water, nuts and seeds, wholegrain cereals, and different types of fruits and vegetables. Foods you should be mindful of include alcohol, fried foods, sugary snacks, and alcohol — They have an adverse effect on your mood. In addition to all we have mentioned so far, remember to accept who you are. Accepting who you are will make you feel good about yourself and boost your confidence.

Ask for help whenever you need it!

Last but not least, ask for help whenever you need it. We all have something we are dealing with, and not unusual to get overwhelmed. If things are going too fast and you feel you can no longer cope, you should step on the brakes and ask for help.

You could join a support group, find a counsellor or check in with a GP (General Physician) who may refer you to a specialist. And always surround yourself with people with a positive mindset.

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