Here are the nine essential habits which will safeguard your mental well-being.  Even if you just follow a few you will be adding to your general well-being and supporting yourself.

  1. Keep a regular routine as much as you can.  Humans thrive on regular sleeping and eating schedules.  We do poorly when these are disrupted.
  2. Recognize that EVERYTHING you put into your body affects not just your body, energy, weight, and performance but crucially your health, including your mental well-being. There are numerous studies showing that where junk food is cut out both anxiety and aggression diminish and a cutting edge study done in Aylesbury where adding fish oil in addition to cutting junk food resulted in a drop in such negative behavior by 37 percent. So watching your diet and maximizing your vitamin intake from fresh nutritious foods will safeguard your mood.
  3. Nip obsessional behavior in the bud.  Excessive work schedules, dietary habits, attention to detail, or punishing exercise regimens wreak havoc on our mental well-being.  We are not designed to do anything to excess. It upsets our natural regulatory systems and leads to imbalance and the flourishing of obsessional behaviors.
  4. If you’re someone who has fragile mental health, then stimulants can create serious problems.  I would suggest that caffeine and alcohol are only consumed in moderation.  Smoking anything has no benefits of any sort, just downsides.  Using sugar and junk food to soothe ourselves creates numerous problems and does not address our real issues.  Drugs, both prescription and illegal, are damaging in the long term—obviously they may be necessary if you are unwell and prescribed them and in some cases they may be life-saving and absolutely essential.  Nevertheless all drugs alter our brain chemistry and most drugs have side effects which are not good for us.
  5. Communicate!  With friends, colleagues, family, and neighbors even if it’s just to pass the time of day.  Tell people what is going on for you and ask about them. People with good friendship bonds live longer than people who lack them. Connections with other humans affect your mood, self-esteem, and resilience. In the 10 year long Australian Longitudinal study those with strong friendships and connections outlived those who lacked them.
  6. Play.  Have fun, pursue a hobby, take part in or follow a sport, read, watch a comedy box set, make love. But definitely play. Humans are designed to play and laugh and move and smile so make sure you are getting your fair share.  And if you have children, play with them; it creates endorphins for your children and it’s good for you, too!
  7. Control your use of social media and electronics.  I suggest with social media you choose a quiet and convenient 15 minutes a day where you take part and then shut it down.  Social media has been shown to increase mental health disorders in teenagers and young adults as they have difficulty with self-regulation and can become prey to cyber-bullying. However, excessive use is bad for us all.  For at least an hour before bed do not use your computer or phone and if possible don’t watch the television either. The National Sleep Foundation reports that blue light suppresses melatonin and interferes with our circadian rhythms: these regulate our responses to day and night (current).  We in the West suffer from a chronic lack of sleep or very poor sleep quality or both!  We need to address this and the easiest way to improve your sleep quality is to follow the above suggestions. Poor sleep = poor mental and physical health.
  8. Just say no!  Learn to turn down the things or behaviors that are detrimental to you.  Everyone is different so you need to know what suits you.  Fear of missing out leads us to overdo even pleasurable things so that we reduce our enjoyment because we have not learned to be selective.  For your own well-being, start to learn and employ these skills.

Finally, all of the above is about taking care of yourself and your mental well-being.  You cannot be a good parent, partner, leader, employee, friend, brother, or daughter, unless you are well rested, well fed and have enough leisure and pleasure to make your life worthwhile.  Your mental well-being relies on you putting in the necessary boundaries and requirements in order that you are in the best shape that you can be.  And if you are mentally robust and healthy, well rested, and well fed, life will be more pleasurable and you will find yourself more available and happily invested in yourself and your future.

References

Aylesbury Youth Offenders Study, 2003, Buckinghamshire, UK

The Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging (Began 1992)

The Influence of Social Media on Teenages by Suren Ramasubbu, Huffington Post 2015, Updated 2016

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