If you want to create or maintain good mental health you need to have good health habits in general.
These are behaviors that promote an overall healthy lifestyle, and the great news is that you, with consultation from your health care team, get to decide what lifestyle changes you want to make to become healthy.
I have a daily routine in which I do things that are healthy for my mind, body, and spirit.
Without sounding like a new age philosopher, I want to share my personal thoughts on this subject.
How to exercise your brain to make it more resilient against mental illness
On a daily basis, I exercise my brain to make it a strong, healthy, and resilient muscle. Here is what works for me:
I spend 5 – 30-minutes a day learning something new. Every day I spend some time learning a new language. You could work on learning a new skill for work, train for a career change, or take on a new hobby like playing a musical instrument.
Meditation is an integral part of my day.
Although I on occasion meditate for up to one hour, on a daily basis I get out of bed, stretch from neck to feet, and set my intention for the day— “I will achieve my goals today, I will eat to nourish my body, I will create a great day.”
My morning mantra changes slightly depending on what I might be challenged with or have going on in a given day, but it is basically constant from day-to-day.
I meditate using sports-style stretching or yoga, chant “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo,” and pray for 30-minutes to 1-hour at mid-morning and at the end of my day.
I also deep breathe for 1-5-minutes ten times a day. I use a smartwatch to remind me to incorporate these healthy habits into my day. There are applications to help with my fitness goals, meditation goals, taking medication on time and more.
You do not need to be religious or subscribe to any particular religion or philosophy to have a spiritual practice.
Simply having a belief in something larger than yourself like nature for example, that gets you into a state of gratitude and awe of the larger universe is enough to ground you in a connection with your spirit, soul, or the thing that which makes you uniquely you.
Exercise is key for me.
I have some additional health issues that cause a lot of physical pain and fatigue, but I notice that my flexibility and pain is much less when I exercise every day.
There are some days that I can barely get out of the bed because of these non-mental health challenges, but even on those days I force myself to go out for a walk. It might be a five-minute or a one-hour walk, but I go out.
"Take the first step and then another, you can always turn around."
My motto is, “take the first step and then another, you can always turn around.”
There are some days when I feel that I cannot move out of my bed or off my sofa because of mental or physical difficulties, but I have learned to count “one, two, three,” then swing my legs over the side of the bed, and “one, two, three,” then stand up, and “one, two, three,” and take one step, and “one, two, three,” and take another step.
The next thing that I know I'm out on my morning walk. I've also trained my service dog Phoebe, and my caregiver—my husband, on how to help motivate me to get moving.
On Monday we'll talk about how what you eat can improve your mood.