Updated: Jul 5
Clinicians diagnose mental illnesses using The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM as their guide. The DSM is a tool for diagnosing disorders utilizing evidence-based criteria and noting the number and severity of symptoms.
Everyone faces obstacles, but there are natural ways to improve your mental health, from diet and exercise to coping strategies.
That said, I am not advocating that you ignore your doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist’s advice and not take medications for a mental health condition. I worked with chronically mentally ill clients for many years and saw how the proper medicines and dosages often gave them the greatest relief, especially when combined with appropriate coping strategies.
There are many coping skills that improve mental health. First, determine the issues that negatively affect your life. If you aren’t clear on that, keep track of your triggers and symptoms through journaling. Then, develop techniques and solutions that reduce or eliminate the problems. For example, if someone triggers your anger because they are disrespectful, you can let go of that relationship. If movies you watch trigger fear and nightmares, change your viewing choices. If your work environment is a source of ongoing stress, take on a new profession.
Try different coping strategies to figure out what works for you. If you suffer from anxiety, determine what distracts you and helps you relax. Is it walking outdoors? If so, you can add a beneficial layer to your excursions by walking mindfully. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment without judgment. Walking meditation involves focusing on what you see around you in each moment such as flowers, the sky, and the earth, what you feel, like a cool breeze across your face or a sense of grounding from hugging a tree, what you smell as in freshly mowed grass, or the water in a nearby stream, and what you hear such as the caw of a crow or the rustling of leaves. This exercise can ease your mind and bring about peace and a feeling of connectedness or oneness.
If you experience fears or phobias, face them gradually or at a pace you desire until you overcome them. Perhaps you struggle with social phobias. Try joining a group, such as a Meetup or a Mastermind, and attend the get-togethers without expectations of yourself or others. If you just show up, the rest will fall into place. Over time, attending gatherings like these helps you feel more at ease in social settings.
We all need social interactions and support, and developing healthy relationships is a wonderful coping strategy. The relationships you should work on growing are the ones that are nurturing and offer each party a balance of give and take. Be a good friend by sharing your time, thoughts, and encouragement to build deeper friendships. Practice active listening and focus on what someone is saying instead of what you want to say.
Any form of exercise is a great coping strategy. Movement jumps-starts your brain’s endorphins and makes you feel good. Plus, a regular fitness regime can help you sleep better, which is important for your mental health.
The regression sessions offered by Best Life-ing can be a fast track to healing. Regression hypnosis often helps people discover the root of a problem, and that understanding brings a sense of peace and acceptance and a path to its resolution.
Find an activity you enjoy. One that grabs your interest and keeps you absorbed. That could be painting, dancing, singing, writing, gardening, hiking, boating, swimming, traveling, socializing, sewing, cooking, reading self-help books, or jogging. The list is endless. Discover what you love and do it. That can be a go-to remedy when you feel depressed, anxious, angry, or out of sorts.
Proper nutrition is a key component of mental health. Through trial and error or testing, you can discover what foods work best for your body. Visit the products page at BestLifeing.com for nutrition resources and meal plans.
Before you go to sleep at night, think of three things you are grateful for. Expressing gratitude releases feel-good hormones, and studies have shown that it increases happiness and decreases depression.
To help you stay positive and confident, recite affirmations such as I am satisfied, lovable, happy, worthy of respect, open, friendly, energetic, able to solve problems, and proud of my accomplishments. According to studies, positive affirmations can reprogram your brain, enhance self-esteem, reduce depression, and improve outcomes. Mindtools.com
If your mind cycles unwanted and unhealthy thoughts, try emotional thought stopping. The process is simple. When a negative thought emerges from your mind, demand that it STOP! Put your furry behind that statement and send the dysfunctional thought packing. For example, if you think, “I will never get a good job,” immediately and emphatically say STOP to yourself. Once stopping negative thoughts becomes a habit, your subconscious mind will start delivering more positive thoughts. Some people find that this exercise is more powerful than positive affirmations.
Meditation takes many forms but typically involves quieting your mind and relaxing your body. People often believe they should not think while meditating. That struggle is often counterproductive because it is difficult to do and can be stressful. It is better to relax your body and mind and accept what comes to pass. Explore techniques such as mantra, transcendental, Vipassana, Zen, Qigong, sound bath, and chakra meditation to find a method you like.
Other calming and mood-enhancing coping strategies are yoga, listening to music, getting a massage, taking deep breaths, counting to ten, practicing random acts of kindness, and volunteering.
Taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health. It takes effort, but over time, you learn what works for your body and your mind. The good news is that you don’t get older you get better as you discover how to nurture your well-being and mental health.
This is a tool to measure anxiety: Burns Anxiety Inventory
This questionnaire measures depression: Burns Depression Checklist
Best Life-ing offers the following services for mental health and well-being:
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