When society learned about physical hygiene, we extended our life spans tremendously. As we continue to care for our bodies, let’s also consider mental hygiene. Everyone has the capacity for it, but it takes practice and priority. Performing certain mental health behaviors can no question improve your quality of life. What are behaviors we can practice to improve our mental health hygiene?
1. Care for your own self-esteem, also known as self-compassion. This is a big one because if you do not love yourself, it can cost a lot of love to others. Accept and value who you are and protect those thoughts and feelings within yourself.
2. Do not ruminate. Rumination is when you just keep thinking and re-thinking certain and often times negative thoughts. Once you get stuck in a ruminating thought cycle, you will need to stop them as quickly as possible with distraction, activity, or directly challenging those thoughts.
3. Value and prioritize social relationships and connections. Social connection through friendships and family is a widely accepted social determinant of health. That means that as social beings, we need each other for physical and mental health!
4. Practice self-control with your emotions. When we let emotions become the base of our decision making, we can make poor decisions. It is being able to think rationally and with a cognitive mind that helps guide better decision making. Try stepping out of a situation and thinking about the pros and cons before you make big decisions.
5. Understand and enhance your own coping strategies. We all have times in our lives that are stressful and unpredictable. By knowing how to self-calm and cope with difficult situations we can derail a lot of stress and negative energy. Consider self- calming techniques such as listening to music, walking in nature, sharing with friends, participating in sport, or creating art.
6. Positive thinking goes a long way. We can oftentimes re-think situations to find a positive spin on even the worst of times. Optimism is found to have positive effects on mental health AND physical health.
7. Find your FUN! And then do it!
We can easily get bogged down by the rigors of what “needs” to get done. Try rediscovering what is fun for you and then commit to doing so at least three times per week.