More so than ever before, people recognize the importance of mental health.
In the past, most people focused on physical health. Today, though, it’s common knowledge that overall health can only be achieved with a solid balance of physical and mental health — since the two are directly connected.
Over time, your mental health can change. As such, you must constantly work at putting yourself in the best mental position.
Below, Kevin Dalby, UT Austin professor, outlines some daily habits to improve your mental health.
Habit #1. Exercise and Eat Healthy
This is a prime example of the direct connection between physical and mental health. When you treat your body physically well, you’ll be boosting your mental health at the same time.
It’s important to eat foods that are packed with nutrients that are vital to your body. When you exercise, you’ll be fighting off the potential of developing depression and anxiety as your body releases dopamine and serotonin, which make you happy.
Habit #2. Laugh a Lot
Much like exercise, laughing releases chemicals in the brain that make you feel good. When you’re having a good laugh, you’ll also be reducing stress levels, increasing your mind’s ability to learn new things, and improving your short-term memory.
The best way to enjoy a good laugh is with friends, family members, and colleagues. That’s because socializing with people you like will make you happier at the same time.
If you’re alone, read a funny book, listen to a funny podcast, or watch a funny movie or TV show. Your mental health will thank you in the end.
Habit #3. Relax and Take a Break
Our daily lives can be very stressful. If you want to improve your mental health, you need to take a step away every once in a while and practice techniques that promote relaxation.
If you’re experiencing a stressful or pressure-packed situation, step away for a few minutes. Get outside if the weather is nice to get a breath of fresh air.
By practicing relaxation techniques such as breathing deeply and meditation, you’ll also be working on training your mind to relax. When you do this, you’ll be reducing tension in your muscles and lowering your blood pressure, thereby decreasing your levels of stress.
Habit #4. Sleep Well
No matter how well your day went, there’s nothing more important than sleep. A good night’s sleep gives your body the time it needs to rest and allows your mind to reset for another day ahead completely.
When you get sufficient and quality sleep, your mood will be significantly better the next day, too. You should keep in mind that the quality of your sleep is as important as how many hours of sleep you get. To that end, make sure you set aside time before getting in bed to relax and let the stress of the day disappear. This will allow you to get quality sleep.
As a UT Austin professor, Kevin Dalby realizes the importance of adhering to healthy habits for mental health. Managing our busy work schedules and lives without burning out requires conscious effort and mindfulness. Follow these tips, and you will notice the difference they make in your own life.
Dr. Kevin Dalby is chemical biology and medicinal chemistry professor who is currently working on cancer drug discovery. At the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas, he examines the mechanisms of nature and cancer to develop new treatments and teach and motivate students to conduct research. Dalby is optimistic about the future of cancer treatments.