Simple Daily Habits to Improve Your Mental Health

Caring for our mental health is as essential as our physical health. While professional help and therapy can be beneficial, many simple daily habits can help improve our mental health. Here are some easy daily habits that you can adopt to improve your mental health.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. It is recommended that adults get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can lead to many problems, such as irritability, anxiety, and depression. Establishing a regular sleep schedule for yourself is the first step. Then try to avoid caffeine and electronics before bedtime, and create a relaxing sleep environment to improve your sleep.

Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is a simple but effective way to improve your mental health. For a few moments each day, reflect on what you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude helps shift your focus from negative thoughts and improve your overall mood.

Stay Active

Regular physical activity can help improve your mood and reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise releases a natural mood booster called endorphins. Try incorporating at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your daily routine, whether taking a walk, practicing yoga, or hitting the gym.

Connect with Others

Social connections are essential for our mental health. Set aside time to connect with friends and family regularly through phone calls, video chats, or in-person visits. Joining social clubs or groups can also provide opportunities to connect with others with similar interests.

Practice Mindfulness

Keeping your attention on the present moment without judgment is the act of mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness helps limit stress and anxiety and improve overall mental well-being. You can practice mindfulness by meditating, doing deep breathing exercises, or focusing on your senses and surroundings.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A healthy diet is essential for both our physical and mental health. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help improve mood and reduce stress. Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks, which can harm mental health.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is essential for our mental health. Take time each day to engage in activities you enjoy, whether reading a book, taking a bath, or walking. It’s also important to set boundaries and prioritize your own needs.

Challenge Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts can harm our mental health. Challenge negative thoughts by questioning their validity and replacing them with positive affirmations. This can help improve self-esteem and reduce anxiety and depression.

Many simple daily habits can help improve our mental health. By prioritizing sleep, practicing gratitude, staying active, connecting with others, practicing mindfulness, eating a balanced diet, practicing self-care, and challenging negative thoughts, we can improve our overall mental well-being and live happier, healthier lives.

Spring Activities for Seniors

Spring is a beautiful time of year that brings new life and energy to the world around us. For seniors, it can be a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, engage in physical activity, and socialize with others. Here are some spring activities that seniors can enjoy:

  1. Gardening

Gardening is a great way for seniors to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and stay active. It’s also a wonderful way to connect with nature and watch plants grow and flourish. Seniors can plant flowers, herbs, or vegetables in pots or in a small garden plot. Gardening can be done alone or with friends, and it’s a great way to socialize while enjoying the outdoors.

  1. Walking

Walking is a simple and effective way for seniors to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. Seniors can walk alone or with friends and family members. Walking can be done at a leisurely pace, and seniors can take breaks as needed. Walking can also be a great way to explore the local community and enjoy the beauty of spring.

  1. Outdoor Games

Outdoor games such as horseshoes, bocce ball, or croquet can be a great way for seniors to socialize and engage in physical activity. These games are easy to play and can be adapted to different skill levels. Seniors can play with family members, friends, or other seniors in their community.

  1. Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning can be a great way for seniors to declutter their homes and get organized. Seniors can clean out their closets, donate unused items to charity, and organize their belongings. Spring cleaning can also be a great way to engage in physical activity and stay active.

  1. Bird Watching

Bird watching is a peaceful and relaxing activity that can be enjoyed from the comfort of home or outside in nature. Seniors can set up a bird feeder outside their window or go on a bird watching walk with friends or family members. This activity can be a great way to connect with nature and enjoy the beauty of spring.

In conclusion, spring is a wonderful time of year for seniors to engage in physical activity, socialize with others, and enjoy the beauty of nature. Whether it’s gardening, walking, playing outdoor games, spring cleaning, or bird watching, there are many activities that seniors can enjoy during this season. Seniors should always consult with their healthcare provider before starting any new physical activity or exercise routine.

The Role of Empathy in Leadership

Leaders are typically reckoned with their ability to inspire and motivate their subordinates. However, empathy is often overlooked as a critical factor ineffective leadership. Empathy is the ability to understand others and feel their feelings. Leaders need to have strong empathy for their employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

Understand the different types of empathy
There are five different types of empathy: social, emotional, cognitive, spiritual, and transactional. Each has its unique strengths and weaknesses. To be successful in empathizing with others, you need to understand the different types of empathy.

Have strong empathy for others
One of the ways to develop strong empathy is to understand others deeply. Leaders who can empathize with their employees, customers, and other stakeholders will be more successful in their leadership roles. Studies have shown that those who can empathize with others are more likely to succeed.

Use empathy to lead.
One of the most effective ways to become more empathetic is to use empathy when leading. Leaders who can understand and feel the emotions of their subordinates are usually more successful in leading. When you’re able to empathize with your employees, customers, and other stakeholders, you will lead with conviction and authority.

Stay calm under pressure.
When you’re under pressure, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget your goals. It can be hard to maintain a cool head under high stress. Leaders who can stay calm and focus on their objectives are usually more successful in their businesses. When you’re under pressure, you must have a plan for handling the situation. Leaders who can remain calm and focused will be better able to handle difficult situations.

Create a safe and healthy work environment
One of the crucial things leaders can create is a safe and healthy work environment. This means ensuring that all employees feel secure and happy in their work environment. Leaders also need to be aware of the signs that an employee is feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at work. If you observe any of these signs, ensure that the employee feels safe and respected.

What are some common challenges leaders face when it comes to empathy?
Leaders often face challenges when it comes to empathy. For example, some leaders may not fully understand the feelings of others. Additionally, some leaders may not be comfortable talking about their own emotions. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. Leaders who can empathize with their employees, customers, and other stakeholders will better manage these relationships and lead their teams to success.

How can leaders create better communication between them and their employees?
Leaders can create better communication between them and their employees by understanding their feelings. Leaders can also be more understanding when it comes to employee grievances. When leaders can empathize with their employees, they’re more likely to work together productively.

Leaders need to have strong empathy for others to lead successfully. If they cannot do so, they will be unable to achieve their goals. Leaders also face challenges when it comes to empathy. In addition, they may not have a safe and healthy work environment to lead. Leaders can make a difference by implementing empathy-based leadership.

Taking Care of Mental Health in Quarantine

While the coronavirus pandemic shakes the world, we have all been ordered to social distance and stay quarantined. Being in quarantine greatly lowers a person’s chance of catching or spreading the virus. Although quarantine can greatly protect your health and the health of others, it can worsen someone’s mental health. 

Self-isolation during a pandemic can easily cause stress, insomnia, irritability, depression, and anxiety. However, there are a few ways to take care of your mental health while in quarantine:

Create a Daily Routine

Being a quarantine puts a major halt on the daily schedules and routines we have all become accustomed to. When stuck home all day, it can easily lead to someone feeling directionless when trying to fill all the hours of the day. To combat this, create a new routine to break up the day and add direction. If you are working from home, it’s important to treat it as a regular workday and hours the same way you would if you were in an office. When you have kids at home as well, make sure they are treating it as a regular school day. It doesn’t have to be a strict routine, just one that adds direction to your day.

Stay Active Throughout the Day

Many of us become guilty of binge-watching TV shows, sleeping in, and spending most of our time on the couch when being stuck inside all day. As relaxing as this is at first, this kind of behavior can lead to feelings of depression. When stuck inside for most of the day, it’s important to still be as active as possible. Do chores around the house, play with your kids, and get in some exercise through at-home workouts. Not only does this help with mental health, but it can also better your physical health. Whenever you are feeling bored, shut off the TV and put the device down to get more active.

Don’t Become Overwhelmed with Information

While it is important to stay informed on the coronavirus and have updated information, looking too much at the news and reading online stories is not good for anxiety. It is easy to become overwhelmed and start to panic when spending every minute of the day reading inaccurate or overly negative information. Instead, look to sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), as well as state and local health departments. By relying on information from credible sources and checking updates once a day or so, it can keep you informed without negatively affecting your anxiety.

For more information, check out the New Horizon Counseling Center!

How a Healthy Diet Can Affect Your Mental Health

Mental health has a significant impact on your ability to think, feel, cope with obstacles, and how you behave on a daily basis. Strong mental health isn’t necessarily the absence of mental health problems, it refers to the positive characteristics present as well. Healthy individuals tend to have a positive outlook and don’t typically experience an inability to have fun or be happy. Strong mental health indicators also include the ability to overcome stress, maintain active relationships, learn new skills, balance work and leisure, and have a healthy sense of self-esteem. 

While there are dozens of factors that can impact your mental health. This article will address two of the most important, sleep and diet. Read on to see how these two factors can boost your mental health and get you back on track to a healthier you. 

Eating a Brain-Healthy Diet

Eating has a major impact on both the body and mind. Eat too little and you can feel weak, eat too much and you feel sluggish. What you eat also matters. An unhealthy diet does not allow your body to operate at maximum capacity and can even make you feel sick, disrupt your sleep, and weaken your immune system. 

Foods that can negatively impact your health include:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Trans fats
  • Foods with high levels of chemicals
  • Snacks with lots of sugar
  • Fried foods

Switching to a more wholesome and healthy diet can reverse these effects. Foods that are lower in sugar, are less processed, and rich in healthy fats are just what your brain needs to operate and function well. 

Foods that can positively impact your health include:

  • Fatty fish rich in Omega 3s
  • Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and peanuts
  • Avocados
  • Beans
  • Leafy greens
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

By cutting out these potentially damaging foods, you can vastly improve your overall health. By keeping your body fueled with foods that speed up bodily and mental processes, you can enjoy increased energy, improved sleep, and major improvements to your mood which can lead to less stress and more happiness. Use your diet to promote brain health, so you can better overcome obstacles and stressors throughout the day.

Shining a Light on Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter doesn’t officially begin its frigid reign until December 21st, but the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer much sooner than that. As the hours of daylight begin to decrease, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) becomes much more commonplace. While the exact causes are as yet unknown, most research points towards a lack of light as a cause. 

Just because SAD only occurs in certain months, does not downgrade its impact. Any form of depression should be taken seriously no matter the season. Treating seasonal affective disorder with light is becoming more and more common. Learn more about SAD, its causes, and its treatments below.

What Is SAD

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that typically occurs during the winter months when daylight hours are shortened. To be officially diagnosed, several criteria are considered. Common symptoms include: feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, losing interest in activities that once brought you joy, disrupted sleep, changes in appetite, and feeling sluggish. 

How Does SAD Occur?

Exposure to sunlight stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls your circadian rhythm. Lack of light due to the shorter days in the winter can throw off your circadian rhythm and create chemical imbalances in your brain that can lead to the decreased production of serotonin, the chemical that makes us feel happy. 

This lack of sunlight and decreased levels of serotonin typically leave people feeling sluggish and sleepy. Even your cognitive functions can become impaired. Decreased concentration and memory are both common symptoms. 

How Light Therapy Can Help

The foundational idea behind light therapy is replacing natural light with artificial light to boost your body’s production of feel-good hormones. Light therapy uses light box technology to produce a bright white light which tricks your brain into thinking it’s getting the benefits of natural sunlight. 

While you shouldn’t solely use light boxes to replace all exposure to sunlight, it can help supplement your exposure and even prevent the onset of SAD. For the best results, follow the tips below to get the most out of your light therapy. 

  • Light boxes should have at least 10,000 lux exposure as regular sunlight is about 50,000 lux
  • Do not look directly into the light as it could damage your eyes. Keep the box near you and go about your normal routine while making sure you are within a few feet of it for longer periods of time.
  • Total exposure times throughout the day should be about 30 minutes. You can use the box’s light all at once or break up the time over the course of the day. 
  • Start your day off with a little exposure to light. This will automatically begin to boost your mood and create a healthier mindset.
  • Consult a doctor before beginning any treatment to ensure you are as safe as possible.