Have you ever thought about taking your psyche for a walk?  Your mental or emotional health requires regular upkeep just like physical health, although the exercise regimen may be somewhat different.  A recent study conducted in the Netherlands found that losing yourself in a good book can improve your mental health; a great form of psychological exercise if there ever was one.

Improving the state of your mental or emotional health can benefit nearly every aspect of your life, increasing your resilience, raising your overall happiness level and letting you relax and enjoy life instead of worrying it away.

What is Mental or Emotional Health?

Having good mental or emotional health involves more than just not having any psychological problems such as anxiety or depression; it involves having a positive attitude about yourself and your relationships, and feeling capable of dealing with any challenges that life throws your way.  Some attributes of good mental and emotional health are:

     A sense of purpose in life;

     Enthusiasm and the ability to enjoy daily activities;

     Adaptability;

     Self confidence;

     Ability to balance work and recreational activities;

     Resilience in the face of adversity;

     Healthy, fulfilling personal relationships.

Although everyone goes through periods of stress and anxiety when dealing with times of difficulty, someone with good mental and emotional health is able to seek support from friends and family to work through those troubling situations, and comes through them even stronger and more resilient than before.

How Can I Improve My Mental Health?

Physical health and mental health are intimately connected, and taking care of your body is critical to achieving and maintaining good mental health.  While exercise strengthens our muscles, lungs and heart, it also releases powerful endorphins that boost our mood and leave us feeling invigorated.

Maintaining good physical health includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy, nutritious diet and getting a daily dose of sunlight.  Studies on seasonal affective disorder show that not getting enough sunlight can cause mood disturbances and even depression, so be sure to get at least 15 minutes of daily sunshine.  A brisk 20 minute walk will give you sunshine and exercise at the same time.



Easy Ways to Improve Mental and Emotional Health

Take a few moments out of your busy day to stop and smell the flowers, literally.  Aromatherapy is a powerful mood booster.  The most important thing is that you treat yourself, even in small ways, to life’s daily pleasures.  Take a break from your responsibilities for these activities:

     Read a good book.  A pleasant romp through a work of fiction will boost your mood and make you a better person for having gone there;

     Learn new things.  By stretching our brain muscle we broaden our horizons and improve our self esteem;

     Help others.  Whether it’s through charity efforts or just helping out a neighbor, the positive vibes benefit us even more than those we help;

     Get a pet.  Studies show that those who spend time every day stroking a pet are healthier, both mentally and physically than those who don’t;

     Take a walk.  Spend time just looking around and admiring the scenery, rather than focusing on where you’re going;

     Avoid bad habits like excessive time spent worrying.  Worrying doesn’t solve anything.  Learn to trust in yourself that you will manage whatever happens, when it happens, and be done with it.

Make Time for Friends

Healthy personal relationships are a hallmark of good mental and emotional health.  Sometimes you may have to rearrange your schedule in order to allow yourself time to nurture them.  Even if you’re not a “touchy feely” type of person, let yourself be hugged, and don’t be afraid to instigate a hug once in awhile.  Physical touch is a very important part of our emotional well-being, and those not in an intimate relationship may be suffering from withdrawal.  If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then it’s also true that a hug a day keeps the psychiatrist away!

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.
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