5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Physical and Mental Wellness
Dr. David Miers, PhD, LIPC Bryan Medical Center Mental Health
Holly Hatton-Bowers, Assistant Professor in Child, Youth and Family Studies
There’s a misconception that if you are not struggling with a mental health disorder, you don’t need to worry about your mental health. It’s important to remember that being well is not the absence of illness or stress. Rather, wellness is the active process of being aware of living a healthy and fulfilling life. Just as you develop habits to keep yourself physically healthy, you can develop habits that improve your mental wellness. Mental and physical wellness are linked to each other in many important ways and should be viewed as skills that need to be developed and repeated in a balanced way.
However, for rural communities achieving this balance can be difficult due to isolation or challenges in accessing mental health providers and health care. In addition, the many uncertainties of farming can create added stress and financial difficulties. There also can be a perception that working 16 hours a day is necessary to demonstrate a strong work ethic. This can lead to stress, burnout, and not living a healthy and balanced life. So how can you begin taking time to bring balance to your physical and mental wellness?
Following are five steps to help you become both physically and mentally healthy while bringing more balance into your life.
The key is to find the right type of exercise for you – whether that means joining a casual sports team, going for walks with a friend or a pet, or doing yoga from the comfort of your own home. Physical activity has been shown to help clear the mind, improve self-worth, and reduce depressive and anxious feelings. You can learn more about the recommended guidelines for physical activity for different age levels at this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
We once thought that poor sleeping habits were caused by mental health disorders, but more recent research suggests poor sleep can be the cause of mental health problems or make them worse. Following a healthy bedtime routine could make you feel happier and calmer and be better focused throughout the day. Learn more in Tips and Tricks for Better Sleep.
Cut down on sugary foods and replace them with nutrient-rich foods like fish, veggies, and foods that have healthy fats such as avocados. These habits have been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in adults.
4. Community and Relationships
Whether the support comes from family, a partner, friends, coworkers, or even pets, feeling connected to those around you can increase a sense of purpose and love in your life. Identify ways to create community.
5. Relaxation and Recreation
In our busy lives it can be easy to forget about the hobbies you used to love, or to make time to sit down and enjoy a book. Building in time to do the things you enjoy will give you a happier frame of mind and give you more energy to deal with difficult emotions when they arise.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that mental health is closely tied to physical health. Treating them both with care and working on your overall wellness will make you feel better in a number of ways.
Further Resources to Achieve a Healthier You
Take a free, confidential online screening today. If you have tried improving these areas of your life, but feel like you need more support, go to: bryanhealth.org/online-screenings. Here, you can take a simple, confidential screening to see if you have symptoms of a treatable mental health disorder. After the screening, if needed, you can make the decision to meet with a mental health professional.
If you’re willing to receive additional help, call the Rural Response Hotline at 1-800-464-0258. When a farmer, rancher, or rural resident calls the hotline, they are connected to an experienced staff person trained to help callers through the COMHT (Counseling, Outreach, and Mental Health Therapy) Program. Staff members are trained to work with individuals over the phone or in their home, providing confidential information and assistance.
If you are a farmer, you can also contact Farm Aid’s online Farmer Resource Network which connects farmers to an extensive network of organizations across the country. The Network helps farmers find the resources they need to access new markets, transition to more sustainable and profitable farming practices, and survive natural disasters.
If you’re in a crisis situation, call 911, go to the nearest emergency department, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) provides information about the eight dimensions of wellness and strategies for developing healthy habits for your mental and physical wellness. You can also watch the three-minute video included here to learn more about the eight dimensions of wellness.