Small Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health in 2022Jan 15, 2022 10:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
We can all agree that 2021 was a particularly taxing year, but for those of us who were already dealing with mental health struggles, it was especially rough. In 2021, we still felt the lingering effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have certainly taken a collective toll on our mental health. We've culled some of the most impactful and least intimidating ways to take care of your mental health in 2022. This is your year and you deserve to make the most of it.
Get More Sleep
The more time you allocate to resting, the more efficient your performance will be when it comes to ticking items off your list. Getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night is crucial to staying focused the next day. Depression and anxiety can definitely make a good night’s sleep feel impossible, but it’s important to catch those zzz’s. Your mind and body need that time to reset, and waking up tired will only bring you down. Give yourself a set bedtime and put your phone out of reach, and if your racing thoughts keep you awake, melatonin gummies or CBD might help you fall asleep faster.
Work Some Omega-3 Fatty Acids into Your Diet
Linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia, omega-3s can easily travel through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules inside the brain. They also have anti-inflammatory actions that may help relieve depression. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds, or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria.
Take Five Deep Breaths
Stress has many physical manifestations, and this can include issues like stomachaches or other digestive problems. By changing your breathing pattern, you can trick your brain into suppressing your fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system and increase your parasympathetic activity, or rest and digest. Not only will this make you feel calmer, but it will also help you digest your lunch better.
Try to Limit Refined Sugar and Add More Magnesium in Your Diet
Cutting back on added sugar (sodas, candies, pastries) won't cure depression, but it can help keep blood sugar levels stable, which can help balance your energy levels throughout the day. And while there's no such thing as stress-fighting foods, magnesium has been shown to help alleviate headaches and fatigue. So adding dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, avocados, and figs to your diet isn't a bad idea.
Volunteer Work with Animals
Volunteering has been shown to reduce stress, and according to the Human Research Animal Bond Institute, research has demonstrated human-animal interactions help decrease symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more. Also, various research studies have concluded that taking care of animals can significantly lower blood pressure—petting animals has a calming effect. They also tend to get you more exercise by playing with them or walking them, especially dogs.
Plant a Garden
Gardening helps with improving mood, concentration and focus. Mental health flourishes when spending time in nature and sunlight while lowering blood pressure and strengthening muscle and body coordination. Gardening boosts self-esteem because when you see your work pay off with healthy plants, your sense of pride gets a boost. Also, when you come in contact with soil, a particular soil bacterium, mycobacterium vaccae, causes serotonin to be released in our brain, making us feel better and happier from within.
Limit Media and Technology Use
Try reducing your amount of technology use and media consumption on a daily basis. The impacts of excessive and prolonged social media and other media consumption can be harmful. Even over-consumption of news can negatively impact your mental wellbeing. Try to keep your phone off your bedside table so it’s not the last thing you check before going to sleep or the first thing you look at in the morning. Try to not use your phone half an hour before bed or for the first half an hour from waking and avoid using it during meal times.
Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health. Keeping active, whether it’s playing a sport, going for long walks, practicing yoga, going to the gym, or running, will help lower stress and anxiety levels, as well as help you improve your self-esteem. If you struggle, try motivating yourself by running with a friend or listening to your favorite music/podcasts while going on a long walk.
Drink More Green Tea
Green tea is touted as one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. It’s loaded with antioxidants that have many health benefits. Studies demonstrate that green tea can reduce anxiety and enhance cognition and focus by increaseing dopamine and serotonin.
Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.
Read more from Boitumelo Masihleho:
As a Black woman, you may want to seek professional help from an individual that looks like you; however, that’s not always possible. Check out thse 5 organizations that are here to suppo... Read More »
Think you’ve overdone it and not treated your body well? These easy ways to recuperate will help you feel healthier than ever. Since all of these tips are consistent with a healthy lifest... Read More »