Seven Ways to Keep Your Mental Health in Check

Research suggests that one in four adults will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. Despite this, we seldom pay attention to our psychological well-being in the same way that we do our physical health, and then we wonder why we're stressed and burned out.

Balancing work and family life comes with many stresses and strains, so it's normal to have the odd bad day. However, if you’re feeling blue most days without explanation, or you’re chronically anxious or stressed, it may be time to tackle the problem head-on. Here are seven of the most effective ways to improve your mental health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise releases endorphins in the brain that may help to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety and enhance your sense of well-being. Having a structured exercise program is an excellent way to look after both your physical and mental health, so try to incorporate it into your daily routine – even if it’s just a brisk walk each morning. There is a school of thought that suggests that anxiety and depression stem from lack of time spent in nature, so exercise outdoors for the best results.

Take Herbs and Supplements

Natural remedies such as St. John’s wort, saffron, and zinc have been used medicinally for centuries, but can they help boost your mood? Research suggests that they can. A study undertaken by Nutrition Neuroscience found that patients who took a 25-milligram zinc supplement daily for 12 days noticed a reduction in depression symptoms.

Similarly, a 2008 review of 29 studies found that St. John’s wort was just as effective for treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressant medications, and a study in the Alternative Medicine Review found that taking saffron can have a positive effect on depression. Whether these natural herbs and supplements can give your mental health a boost, you can’t know for sure, but considering their inherent health-giving properties, they are certainly worth trying.

Avoid Alcohol

Although alcohol may improve your mood at the time of drinking it, it is also a depressant, so it increases your risk of depression over time. Many people turn to alcohol to help relax and alleviate their feelings of anxiety, but alcohol dependency is a serious problem, both mentally and physically.

Alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain, causing memory loss and even symptoms of psychosis. Drinking too much can also lead to more daily stresses, such as forgetting things, getting into arguments, oversleeping and trouble at work. In short, alcohol and mental health don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. If you think you’re drinking too much, consult your doctor and avoid having alcohol in the house.


Over the last few years, mindfulness meditation has been adopted by the western world and has helped many people combat stress, chronic depression, and anxiety. Meditation should by no means be considered a cure for established mental health problems, but multiple studies have found it to be just as effective as medications in treating mild to moderate depression.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to reap the many benefits this practice has to offer. All you need to do is close your eyes and enjoy a few minutes of silence, concentrating on your breath and listening to the sounds around you. We lead such busy lives that most of us forget to pay attention to the here and now, which can result in feelings of anxiety and low mood. If you need help getting started, some great mindfulness apps can help you switch off.

Eat Right
It should come as no surprise that what you put into your body affects your mental and physical well-being, but many people are surprised to learn that diet can help combat depression. Rather than seeing the mind and body as two separate entities, we would do better to view them as a whole. In other words, when you are nourishing your body, you’re also feeding your mind.

Although depression is rarely caused by just one factor, deficiencies of certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids can directly impact our emotional well-being. Eating foods that are low on the glycemic index (low GI foods) will prevent spikes in the blood sugar that can cause fluctuating moods. Low GI foods include oats, beans, pulses, and lentils as well as apples and oranges and most vegetables. Avoid high GI foods like refined white bread, potatoes, and sugary treats if you want to look after your mental health.

Seek Professional Help

Talking therapy often goes hand-in-hand with other treatments for depression, but it can be a great help on its own. You don’t need to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety to benefit from talking to a therapist. Whether your mood has been affected by a change in circumstances, you’ve been through a rough break-up or divorce, or you’re generally feeling a little down in the dumps, having the time and space to work through your emotions can make a big difference.

Take Medication

These days, there are multiple antidepressant medications on the market that can make a real difference. If you have tried to heal your depression naturally but haven’t seen results, don’t despair. There is no shame in taking medication for depression, just as there is no shame in taking antibiotics for an infection. Recovery from a mental health condition looks different for everyone, so take whichever route feels like the right one for you.

There are many antidepressant options on the market, but Escitalopram (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor most commonly marketed as Lexapro or Cipralex) has been known to reduce both anxiety and depression. Escitalopram also treats Generalized Anxiety Disorder and helps to prevent migraines, improve sleep and increase energy levels. To find out whether this medication is right for you, consult your doctor.

It’s important to take regular steps toward better mental health, whether it’s getting outdoors in your running gear, attending a meditation class or trading that after-work glass of wine for a mug of herbal tea. What with families, work and social lives to balance, we can often end up neglecting ourselves. However, unless we take our mental health seriously, we could end up stressed, burned out or depressed.

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1 comment:

  1. As someone who suffers from depression, I know how important these things are including medication if I don't take my medication I become so depressed I can barely function


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