First of all, I want to say that I’m not a mental health professional. I was a high school social studies teacher and in education for 34 years, and I do have Mental Health First Aid certification, but still, these suggestions are only personal opinion and do not represent professional advice.
• The first recommendation deals with sleep. Most professionals recommend eight hours of sleep per night for adults. More than eight hours may lead to depression or at least sluggishness. Less than eight hours may lead to anxiety or nervousness. However, I maintain that sleep does not have to be completed in one block of time. Personally, I sleep for about three hours, work on projects for an hour or two, sleep for another one or two hours; then I nap once or twice during the day when I’m tired. Sometimes naps last an hour, sometimes only ten minutes. I think the key is to sleep when your body tells you it needs rest. Of course, I’m semi-retired, and my schedule may not work for most professionals.
• A conscientious diet is helpful for mental stability. I recommend a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids. Those can include, most nuts and seeds, but most helpful are walnuts, sunflower seeds, ground flaxseeds, and soaked chia seeds. I like to soak my chia seeds in milk overnight and that combination ends up similar to a tapioca pudding. Cold water fish provide substantial omega-3 fatty acids – sardines, salmon, trout, char, and herring lead the parade in this area. Avocado is another helpful food in this area. Low fat proteins are helpful including beans, chicken, fish, and turkey. Of course a diet grounded around fruits and vegetables is important, and finally probiotics are helpful for digestion. Those can include pickles, sauerkraut, and yogurt.
• Another important step includes respect – respect yourself, treat yourself, and value yourself. Find a hobby like fishing; go to a nice restaurant or a movie once a month, keep a journal of your thoughts, or even go shopping.
• Exercise is another important aspect that bolsters your self-esteem and overall mental health. An outdoor walk, especially in a park or the woods – that provides, fresh air, strength, and the sun can provide much needed vitamin D to stave off depression.
• Finally, it is helpful to engage with others face-to-face. Conversation can provide a feeling of worth. It is beneficial to get off the smart phone and deal with people in person.
These five keys will not guarantee good mental health, but they will go a long way toward that end.