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counseAll too often when you ask what you can do to gauge and maintain your mental health, the answer is to see a therapist.

Of course participating in counseling is incredibly useful. But a session may only be for 45 minutes once a week. What about the rest of that time?

It turns out there are many practical things you can do to maintain your mental health, and there’s no better time to start than the beginning of a new year.

These tips will help you to feel more in control and allow you to live a life that promotes positive mental health.

1. Know What’s Within Your Control to Protect Your Mental Health

This approach is a radical, yet simple concept. All too often, the things that harm your mental health are outside your control.

For instance, you can’t control that your boss is a jerk. But you can manage your mental response to their behavior. Maybe it’s taking a few deep breaths to stay calm. Or you say to yourself that this is par for the course for how they present themselves. Of course you shouldn’t tolerate abusive or unsafe behavior. But you get the idea.

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Knowing this is empowering. Otherwise, trying to change something that can’t be changed really takes its toll and over time, this becomes a detriment to your mental health.

2. Get Better Sleep to Maintain Your Mental Health

Quality sleep is so crucial for maintaining your mental health. Note that we’re emphasizing quality, not quantity. Oversleeping can also be a problem and isn’t helpful either.

About eight hours or so is just right for an adult. Some tricks for getting a better night’s rest include:

  • Leave work at work.
  • Avoid heavy drinking.
  • Have an evening routine that helps you to unwind.
  • Light a scented candle, such as lavender.
  • Do something fun with your partner and family (board games, cards, puzzles, etc.).
  • Read for pleasure.
  • Sleep in a room that’s dark, quiet, and not too hot or cold.

Experiment with different ideas to find an ideal routine that works best for you.

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3. Keep Your Mind Active to Avoid Depression Symptoms

Your brain needs to be exercised just like the rest of your body. Without stimulation, it can atrophy, and cause you to slip into depression. A simple way to keep your mind sharp is by learning new things, such as:

  • Watching a documentary
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Reading
  • Learning a new skill
  • Taking a class

You’ll find that doing a variety of things can help engage your mind no matter your age.

4. Volunteer in Your Community for Positive Mental Health

It’s been shown that relationships help maintain positive mental health. One way to build relationships and a sense of meaning is through volunteering.

It feels good to help someone else who’s in need. You feel useful and productive. Plus, you can see the results of your work immediately. Those positive feelings you experience when volunteering stay with you long after the day is over.

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Look around in your community in the Columbus Ohio area for potential opportunities that interest you. Here are some local options:

  • The Worthington Resource Pantry has opportunities to help sort, stock and pack food donations as well as assisting administrative duties and food drives in our local Worthington Ohio community.
  • The Mid-Ohio Foodbank is always looking for food pantry and market volunteers at various Columbus OH locations to help shoppers in many different ways, from welcoming and check-in to guiding them through the markets.
  • Habitat for Humanity – MidOhio volunteers participate in a variety of areas, including working in one of Habitat’s ReStore locations in Columbus, Ohio, serving on committees, taking pictures, building on site and more. 
  • If you’re not sure where to start, HandsOn Central Ohio helps place volunteers in the Columbus Ohio area with opportunities that are the best fit for them. 

5. Know When to Say No to Save Your Mental Health

One thing that certainly causes emotional distress is when you feel obligated to say yes to every single request. Life quickly becomes overwhelming and stressful when you have difficulty saying no. There are only so many hours in the day, and your time is valuable. Of course, you want to help, and yet, you also have to put yourself first as a priority. That includes your time, your energy, and your physical/mental health.

Know that it’s okay to turn down a request occasionally. What good would it be to take on that request if you know you wouldn’t be able to put in your best effort?

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There are so many ways you can use practical tips to promote your mental health. These give you an excellent place to start as we begin a new year. Working with a counselor can help you learn more strategies and tools as well.

If you’d like to go beyond self maintenance for your mental health and decide you’re in need of a high quality Columbus OH counseling practice, please reach out and contact Blue Boat Counseling today. Our skilled Columbus therapists can help you take charge of your mental wellness and help you be you