Mental wellness is about more than the absence of mental illness. You may not live with a mental health condition like depression or anxiety – but are you truly mentally well?
This year, let’s all strive to take small steps to get closer and closer toward complete mental wellness. Here are 12 effective and easy-to-implement steps from MINES & Associates, a leading international psychology firm, and your Employee Assistance Program.
Tips to improve your mental well-being from your Employee Assistance Program
Here are 12 tips for 2024 to improve emotional and mental wellness – one for every month of the year. Make a commitment to choosing one to practice each month.
Tip #1: Reduce stress
Stress in short bursts is okay – but chronic stress – stress that sticks around over a long time – has countless health consequences and is a major barrier to mental wellness. Reducing your stress levels is one of the best things you can do for your overall health this year. What needs to change in your life for there to be less stress in your life? What boundaries may need to be set?
Tip #2: Practice relaxation
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to practice intentionally relaxing. You don’t need to be on a tropical beach with a drink in hand to relax. Relaxation is about activating a physiological response in your nervous system that counteracts the stress response. Strategies like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation have been shown to promote your body’s relaxation response.
Tip #3: Stay active
If you have a fitness resolution this year, there’s good news – physical activity can also get you closer to emotional and mental wellness! Research shows that aerobic exercise is profoundly effective for combating depression and anxiety, and can help you reduce your stress levels as well. Every time you sweat it out, you’re getting closer to mental well-being.
Tip #4: Connect with others
You can boost your mental wellness simply by spending time with your closest loved ones. Research shows that social connection has many benefits for well-being, but the reverse is also true – loneliness can have significant negative effects. If you feel lonely, make it a goal this year to connect more. Join local groups, try a friendship “dating” app, or even find a support group.
Tip #5: Be generous
Positive psychology researchers have found that doing random acts of kindness can improve mental wellness and fill you with pleasant feelings. It doesn’t have to be a huge act of kindness, like donating a large amount of money – even simple things will do, like holding the door open for someone or visiting a grieving neighbor.
Tip #6: Schedule doing nothing
We make so many goals for ourselves that we forget it’s important to do nothing, too! Leisure time is critical to mental well-being. We all need time to simply recharge, free of the pressure to do anything at all. Consider scheduling blocks of “nothing time” into your calendar, and resist the temptation to use the time to do something productive.
Tip #7: Prioritize sleep
Sleep is essential to wellness in every way. Sleep helps your brain process and learn, and allows your body to rest. Research shows that sleep deprivation is linked to many mental health problems including depression and anxiety. Most healthy adults should strive to get 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep every night.
Tip #8: Find meaning through values
Having a purpose in life is an important component of mental wellness. But how do you live a meaningful life if it feels like your job – where you spend most of your time – doesn’t give you purpose? Try finding ways to connect your everyday tasks, like your job, to your deeper values. For example, perhaps you value family – and your job gives you the means to support your family. This can help you feel like your life is more purposeful.
Tip #9: Reflect on what you’re grateful for
You’ve probably heard the advice to “be more grateful.” This advice isn’t about toxic positivity – it’s not about forcing yourself to feel grateful for everything. It’s about intentionally shifting your focus on the positive things in your life. Try starting a gratitude journal, where you write down everything that makes you smile. Find a “gratitude buddy,” and share with each other the best parts of your days.
Tip #10: Spend time in nature
This year, try to commit to spending as much time in green spaces as possible. This can be tricky during the winter months if you live in Northern latitudes, but being surrounded by nature can have benefits for mental health and can also reduce stress. It’s okay if you don’t have access to large swaths of wilderness – even sitting on a bench in a city park can have benefits.
Tip #11: Belly laugh
Laughter can help you feel immediately better when you’re distressed. Research shows that humor and laughter have numerous benefits to wellness, including physical and mental health benefits. What makes you laugh so hard that your belly aches? Is it spending time with a particular loved one, or watching your favorite stand-up comedian? Whatever it is, prioritize laughing this year – intentionally schedule it into your to-do list.
Tip #12: Talk to a counselor
Lastly, we tend to think of mental health counseling and therapy as something we access when we’re already feeling unwell. But counseling could be the missing piece to your overall mental well-being. You don’t need to wait until you’re in a mental health crisis to start therapy – many people see therapists to deepen self-awareness, learn stress management skills, and improve their self-esteem.
If you are subscribed to MINES & Associates’ Employee Assistance Program (EAP), then counseling is a free 24/7 service that you have at your disposal.
We hope you choose to use your EAP this year – we’re looking forward to working with you on your wellness goals.
To Your Wellbeing,
The MINES Team