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  • Writer's pictureSKYLAR STIMSON '22

5 things to Do to Improve Mental Health

In today’s society many people struggle with mental illness. It is so prevalent that 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness, and half of these people first experienced mental illness around the age of 14. Because emotional wellness is so important, I’ve put together 5 tips for what you can do to improve your own mental health.

First off, start by developing healthy eating habits, drinking water regularly, and sleeping well. Try to not skip breakfast and eat healthy meals. Scientists say that by sticking with a healthy diet and not skipping meals, high schoolers can help reduce their mood fluctuations. Plus, your body will feel better because you are fueling it with good nutrients! Similarly, sleep is very important when it comes to mental health. Science has shown that having a full REM cycle works through emotions and memories. Your REM cycle clears and keeps your emotions at a controlled level. The CDC recomends that tenagers sleep 8-10 hours per 24 hours.

Second, set aside “me time” each day. It’s incredibly important to make time for yourself! During the day you give to others and you need to fuel yourself back up in order to do that the next day. By doing something small for yourself each day. For example, during the week do a 5 minute meditation, read your book, listen to music, do something you like or enjoy (maybe get yourself a little treat on the way home). You can refuel and be able to give energy and effort for the next day. It could be as little as drinking tea before bed or taking a relaxing shower. On the weekends you could set aside time to take a bubble bath, read a book, go for a walk, do your skincare routine, or meditate.

Another important thing to do for your mental health is exercise. Exercising releases endorphins, which are like happy hormones! Science has also shown that exercising improves your confidence, concentration, memory, energy levels, and reduces stress. Ironically, increasing your adrenaline levels also improves your sleep quality. So exercise could be something to do for yourself each day.

Additional you should try to surround yourself with positive people. Surrounding yourself with negative people can hurt your mental health. Another thing that can harm your sense of well-being is social media. More than two-thirds of adults say that using social media makes them feel lonely and isolated. So maybe try deleting TikTok, log off Instagram for a bit, or take a step back from Snapchat and see how you feel.

Lastly, perhaps try a gratitude journal or meditate. Although both things sound like a lot of work, they may be just what you need. Gratitude journals help you to change your perspective on life by making you physically write positive things about yourself and your life or goals you want to achieve. This has the potential to change your whole mindset. Meditation is another great thing for your mind. Studies have shown that meditation reduces stress and helps to clear your mind and body of negativity. Now you don’t even have to go to a class or sit down foran hour to meditate. You can simply use a meditation app and meditate for five minutes everyday. I recommend Insight Timer because they have a variety of meditations that are free. So go ahead and try it!

In the end, mental health has a big impact on our society. It is not something to be ashamed about and these practices can’t always solve the biggest problems. If you’re still struggling, I recommend asking for help. Whether it is Hope Squad, the counselors, or a psychologist and psychiatrist. There is nothing wrong with needing help. You got this!

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