How to Work on Your Mental Health From Home
Mental health involves your emotional and psychological well-being. Your mental wellness impacts your ability to deal with the difficulties and stressors of life. It’s an aspect of overall health that’s always been important. But with more and more people now working at home because of the pandemic, it’s especially relevant in our modern era.
Achieving a healthy mental state is something that anyone spending a lot of time at home may be interested in, including stay-at-home parents or those trying to take control of this aspect of their life. Here are some specific ways to work on your mental health, including tips on how to care for your mind and body.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is the act of being acutely aware of what you’re experiencing and the emotions and feelings you’re having. It’s about living in the present moment and simply allowing things to unfold without placing judgment on them or trying to change anything.
Meditation is the practice of calming the mind and achieving a state of relaxed focus. When combined, mindfulness and meditation can have a deeply relaxing effect and offer several health benefits. According to UC Berkeley, mindfulness meditation can improve cognitive functioning, boost your immune system, and ward off depression.
Here are some effective techniques to achieve mindfulness meditation:
- Sit quietly in place;
- Concentrate on your breathing;
- Objectively observe the thoughts and sensations you’re experiencing;
- Notice when your mind wanders;
- Calmly “bring your mind back” to focusing on your breathing.
This technique usually takes some practice to get the hang of, but it’s one you will get better at over time.
Take Care of Your Body
The link between taking care of your body and your mental well-being is undeniable. It’s something scientists refer to as the “mind-body connection.” Being in good physical shape has a positive impact on your mental health, helping reduce stress and anxiety. Therefore, a big part of staying healthy mentally is taking care of yourself physically, which involves four key steps.
Mental Health America notes that avoiding sugary drinks and highly processed foods, along with drinking plenty of water is a great start. They also suggest consuming foods and drinks that are high in:
- Folate, such as leafy greens, fruits, nuts, and whole grains;
- Vitamin D, such as salmon, tuna, milk, and orange juice;
- Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, trout, walnuts, and olive oil.
Research from The National Institute of Mental Health has found walking for just 30 minutes a day can significantly enhance your mood and improve your overall mental health. They also note that exercise and staying active has a cumulative effect and adds up. So, even if you don’t have the time to walk a full 30 minutes per day, any exercise is still beneficial.
Other forms of exercise that can have a positive impact include:
- Light weightlifting;
- Resistance training;
And if you don’t have any equipment, there are several “equipment-less” home fitness exercises you can do, including:
- Arm circles;
- The butterfly crunch;
- Leg drop;
- Lunges and squats.
Quit Smoking or Vaping
Not only does quitting smoking and vaping have a positive impact on your body physically, but research has also found a correlation with better mental health. One study found that people who quit smoking or vaping experienced a drop in stress, anxiety, and depression.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Although alcohol might be a mood enhancer short term, it can potentially create mental health problems long term. Because it’s a depressant, it can adversely affect your thoughts and feelings and create mental health issues. That’s why it’s best to drink in moderation, which is a max of one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
Consider Vitamin and Supplement Use
Another way to improve your mental health and wellness from home is through vitamins and supplements. Vitamin B12, for instance, plays a key role in brain activity and the functioning of the central nervous system. And Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that’s been known to reduce free-radical damage due to stress.
Both can be taken orally as a troche or injected as a shot. Just be sure to speak with your health provider before taking supplements.
Reach Out to Friends and Family
A healthy level of socialization and close relationships are also vital to maintaining mental health. This, however, has become more difficult recently because of the pandemic. When travel restrictions and social distancing protocol became the norm, it put a strain on relationships, and many people are still working to adapt to being at home for extended periods.
That’s why you should make it a point to reach out to friends and family, especially if you’re struggling with your mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests planning your conversations and focusing on three main areas:
- “Process” talk where you let them know you need to talk about something important and get them in the headspace for a deep conversation;
- Main issue where you specifically mention that you’ve been struggling with mental health;
- Suggestions on how they can help.
You can learn more about approaching these conversations by visiting The National Alliance on Mental Illness website.
Speak to Your Manager or HR
Besides talking to friends and family about mental health, it can also be beneficial to inform your place of work about it. At the end of the day, your manager or HR is invested in your wellbeing, as this enables you to operate at your best. And there’s been a growing emphasis by many companies as of late to make mental health services more accessible.
If you feel that your mental state is getting in the way of your ability to perform your job, this signals that it’s time to have the discussion. In terms of what to say, Business Insider experts recommend being open and honest about the situation, explaining what specific issues you’ve been struggling with, such as anxiety or depression. Then, shift to talking about any changes in accommodations that could help you, like a more flexible schedule or a temporary reduction in work hours.
Getting on the same page with your employer through open dialogue can potentially be a catalyst for getting your mental health back on track and being a stronger asset to your company.
Attend Virtual Therapy
Finally, you may want to consider virtual therapy, which is therapy from a mental health professional via an app, video chat, or over the phone. This gives you access to top-of-the-line therapy services from home and allows you to find treatment when necessary. It’s ideal when you don’t have the option of seeing a therapist face-to-face due to health concerns stemming from COVID or if you simply don’t have the time to do so because you’re a stay-at-home parent or have other obligations.
If you’re still struggling with mental health after trying the techniques we’ve mentioned, it’s a great time to try virtual therapy. To get motivated, just think of the positive impact it can have on your life, including making better choices, being better adapted to cope with stress, and generally feeling more enthusiastic about life.