The internet has been abuzz in recent years with information, articles, and personal essays pertaining to mental health. While issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction were once taboo topics few felt they could openly discuss, let alone seek help for, today the world is generally much more supportive thanks to new revelations and innovations alike.

One’s mental health refers to their mental, emotional, and social well-being, and how their life is affected by the state of all three. Sometimes we don’t notice certain changes or disruptions taking place in our day-to-day existence, nor the patterns we adopt in response to them. In other cases, we may feel like there’s no help for the challenges we face.

The good news is, there are simple steps you can take to improve your mental health and overall well-being. Here are 5 of the most widely proven ways you can boost the quality of your life through positive practice.

1. Treat Your Body As Well As Your Brain

The “mind-body connection” may seem like a trendy fluff term, but actually carries significant truth. A neglected body all but invites similarly poor mental health, and tending to your physical wellbeing is crucial to maintaining a sound, positive mindset.

Make sure you’re getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night, eating a balanced diet, and taking sufficient exercise. It may also be worth eliminating or at the very least keeping unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking to a minimum.

When we’re feeling tired, fatigued, or in poor physical health, the challenges of the outside world can seem twice as insurmountable. Not only can work and personal relationships suffer, but your ability to take full advantage of life’s opportunities when they present themselves.

2. Nurture Healthy Relationships

Toxic relationships, whether they’re personal or work-related, inevitably shape the quality of our lives. And while you may not be able to control everyone in your immediate sphere, you can take control of who you consciously choose to devote your time and energy to.

Surrounding yourself with kind and supportive individuals will help you through your worst of times, and remind you that you are wanted and valued no matter what. If you find yourself frequently tussling with exasperating relatives, don’t be afraid to make this the year of saying no to forced family gatherings.

Similarly, make a point to draw boundaries between yourself and those who are prone to taking advantage of you. While these may seem like drastic or even unfair measures in the moment, they will ultimately protect you from potentially damaging influences.

3. Challenge Yourself

It’s often said that when we run out of problems, our minds invent new ones for us to fret over. When the unstimulated, unchallenged brain (and by extension, life) holds no active goals or interests, repetitive patterns of destructive thinking can wreak havoc.

Pursuing a challenge, be it creative, professional, or out of personal interest, will keep your head clear and energies focused towards more rewarding outcomes. Try to be realistic in what it is you wish to achieve, and give yourself permission to take pride in all the steps you successfully take towards achieving it.

Despite our constant declarations of needing time off, some rest and relaxation, etc, we humans actually crave activity and a sense of purpose. Without relevant challenges to keep our minds and bodies busy, the likelihood of sinking into depression and despondency (f only by way of boredom) is fairly certain.

4. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is another trending term of recent years, but with well-founded roots. Self-care simply pertains to the act of taking care of yourself in ways that bring you pleasure and peace, and are independent of others’ interests.

Establishing routine acts of self-care, such as wellness rituals like mediation, a personal project, immersive book, or a long hot bath in the evening can go a long way towards regularly (even if just momentarily) separating yourself from the countless stressors of the outside world.

Just taking 20 minutes a day to relax and savor some solitary “you” time can help you recharge after or before a particularly chaotic day. Make a point of carving out your own niche of time, whether it’s in the morning, during your lunch break, or in the evening after work, to indulge guilt-free in the pastimes that bring you joy.

5. Take Advantage Of New Therapy Innovations

There may come a time when personal care is not enough to overcome your mental challenges, in which case professional care might be recommended. Contrary to prior eras of in-office therapy, online counseling has enjoyed an immensely popular and much-earned boom in recent years.

Discreet, convenient, and typically more affordable than meeting with a therapist face-to-face, online therapy allows you to select the counselor of your choice and engage in sessions from the comfort and privacy of your chosen space.

There are a number of different online platforms to choose from, each curated to suit the needs of their members. All listed therapists are fully licensed and accredited, and often feature extensive bios to help you get to know them better before committing.

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