At the foundation of all mental health is our willingness to care for our mind the same way we care for our bodies. Every day we eat, hydrate, sleep, perform personal hygiene, and move around to provide our bodies with what it needs inorder to function.
Our minds should be no different, because our mental health is just as important as our physical health. We should make our mental health a priority and attend to it with the same care and devotion that we do our bodies.
Keeping our minds clean is just as important as keeping our bodies clean. Our mental diet plays a vital role in maintaining our mental health. Making a conscientious effort to practice good mental hygiene will help us maintain emotional equilibrium and prevent mental illness.
In this post, I will explain what mental hygiene is, why it’s important, and share some pracitical tips that will help you practice good mental hygiene.
What’s Mental Hygiene?
According to Isaac Ray, the founder of the American Psychiatric Association, Mental Hygiene is “the art of preserving the mind against all incidents and influences calculated to deteriorate its qualities, impair its energies, or derange its movements.”
By practicing good mental hygiene we can enjoy greater emotional stability and improve the quality of our lives. When we think clearly we’re able to interact with others and our surroundings in more productive ways.
Our personal and professional lives will prosper as we attend to our mental health and feed our minds a healthy diet of what it needs to function properly.
A Good Mental Diet
Paying attention to the type of information we consume is one of the most important facits of practicing good mental hygiene. Much like our physical diet, what we take into our minds/bodies determines how well our faculties will function. Trash in, trash out.
When we begin to scrutinize the types of information we consume, we need to differentiate between need to know and want to know.
Not all news is good news and negative information travels faster and farther on social media. Social media works off of algorithms. Everytime we like/react to a post we’re feeding the algorithm. Based on the information/content we interact with, the algorithm will feed us more of the same.
Before we engage with content we should ask ourselves if it’s the kind of content we need/want to see more of.
Consume Good, Values Based Content
We should only like/engage content that appeals to our highest values. As is said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
Rather than passively interacting with whatever content dances accross our news feeds, we should actively seek out the type of content that induces healthy thoughts and productive/meaningful interactions online.
If the content isn’t going to promote mental health and appeal to the greater good in us and others, we shouldn’t interact with it.
Modern corporate media (“news”) tends to be more negative than it is positive, so consume it accordingly. Determine if the cost outweighs the benefits in being in the “know” when it comes to the news.
Especially, during election cycles!
Consume Less Content
Outside of scrutinizing the quality of information/content we consume, it’s also good mental hygiene to not over-consume information.
Our brains today are bombarded with tons of information these days. We need to make sure that we’re conserving our mental bandwith for mental functions generate postive inputs/outputs in our lives.
It’s best that we limit our screentime. Especially, before we go to bed. There are other activities we can do before bed that are good for our mental health.
Create a Nightly Routine
Most people focus on a morning routine when attempting to make meaningful changes in their lives. Makes sense. After all, if we can win the morning, we can win the day, right?
While having a morning routine is a great way to improve productivity and strengthen our mental health, many underestimate just how much the night before and what we do pours into the next day.
The quality of sleep we get plays a huge part in how think, feel, and perform each day. Therefore, having a healthy nightly routine is just as important, if not, more important than our morning routine.
Reading a physical copy of a personal development book is a great way to start bedding down for the evening. Just make sure it’s a hard copy and not an ebook that requires you to be on a device.
Either block off a certain amount of time or have a page goal to accomplish.
While your reading, highlight specific insights/quotes you want to remember, so you can revisit those in the morning. If you want, put those nuggets of wisdom on yellow sticky notes and place them on your bathroom mirror so you can see/read them while you get ready each morning.
Thinking of how you will recall information leads to active reading that will minimize mindless reading where you don’t remember anything you’ve read.
As is said, “It’s better to read 1 page 100 times, than 100 pages once.”
Before bed, close your eyes, take a few deep breathes, and focus on the feeling of gratitude. Allow yourself to be thankful for life as you focus on your breathing. When you’ve settled into the feeling of gratitude for a few moments, begin to write down all the things you’re grateful for.
This doesn’t have to be a long laborours process or exercise. Studies prove that just 3 minutes of deep breathing combined with gratitude will work wonders. After doing this for 3 minutes each day, after just 3 days, your brain/body will experience a host of positive benefits. To include, strengthening your immune system.
Plan for the Next Day
By planning for the next day, you will minimize ruminating over things you need to do while you should be sleeping.
Taking 10 to 15 minutes to create goals and set intentions for the next day is a great way to increase your productivity – while reducing stress and anxiety.
When you encouter things that cause you stress and anxiety about the affairs of the next day, slow your breathing down and focus on how you want things to go and reinforce those intentions with empowering thoughts.
It’s best to not have stressors and causes for anxiety hanging over yout head when you go to bed. If you need to, write down your intentions, so you can review them the next morning.
Your Morning Routine
Before you hop onto your phone or jump into your inbox in the morning, review everything you wrote down from the night before.
Go over the insights you encountered while reading, the things you’re grateful for, and the positive intentions you set for your day.
I call this the “I love me/Love yourself first” routine. The key is to start your day by making yourself a priority. Focus on the “love me” tasks that create momentum for your day.
What you do in the morning can create positive momentum that sets the pace for the rest of your day. Think good thoughts, feel good emotions, do things that increase self-care.
Before you start living at the speed of life, love yourself first!
Fresh Air, Sun Exposure, Physical Exercise
In the morning, getting fresh air is extremely beneficial. It helps feed your brain the quality oxygen it needs and give your immune system a boost.
Exposing yourself to at least 10 minutes of sunlight provides your body with natural vitamin D. This also strengthens your immune system.
If you take a brisk 10 minute walk while you’re outside breathing fresh air, and getting natural vitamin D, it will not only impact your immune system in a beneficial way, but it will improve your mental health.
Nutrition: Hydration and Healthy Fats
Closely related to mental health is brain health. Since our brains are 70% water, hydration is extremely important to help feed our brains what it needs to function properly.
When our brains function properly, we think more clearly, and are better at regulating our emotions.
At a bare minimum, we should be drinking no less than 64 ounces of water each day. A good water source with a ph level of 7+ is a plus. Higher ph water helps remove toxicity from our bodies.
Our brains are also made up of a large portion of fat. Therefore, providing our brains with healthy fats like avocado’s and omega 3’s is extremely benficial to proper brain health/function. Once again, brain health is mental health.
If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to improving your mental health and practicing good mental hygiene.
Don’t Be Shy!
Let us know in the comments below what mental hygiene practices have worked best for you. If you want to see more content like this, make sure to subscribe/follow to receive new content directly to your inbox.
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