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Most everyone knows the fundamental rules for healthy living. Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. Don’t smoke and drink alcohol moderately if at all.
But what about your mental health? Can you just as easily list the fundamental rules for taking care of your mental health? Writing for Psychology Today, Carla Shuman, Ph.D. says, “We struggle with different challenges depending on our circumstances, our relationships, and our desires. We are all fighting different battles at different times in our lives. However, there are ways we can take care of our mental health that we share in common. Doing these things will help you stay focused on staying mentally healthy, strong, and resilient.”
Shuman lists six factors that will help you maintain your mental health.
“Identify what is within your control and what you can change.” The famous Serenity Prayer is short but powerful: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. There’s a reason this prayer has been so enduring — because it implicitly communicates the sense of empowerment you receive when you focus only on those things you can change.
“Keep cynical thoughts to a minimum.” One look at the news and it’s easy to adopt a worldly cynicism. The problem is that the corollary to cynicism is pessimism. And exactly the opposite — optimism — is needed to develop true resilience.
“Identify the people in your life who don’t belong there.” It’s hard to overstate how destructive negative people can be. If there’s someone negative in your life, consider ending the relationship.
“Surround yourself with like-minded people who are making their best effort to live a good life.” Fortunately, positive people have just as much power as negative people — and it’s hard to overstate how important it is to have upbeat, optimistic people in your life. Without even trying, they will boost your self-confidence and inspire you to be your best.
“Self-advocate.” Thankfully, truly negative people are few and far between. But at any given time someone can treat you unfairly or unkindly, perhaps even without realizing it. It’s important to have the self-confidence and courage to speak up in order to (we hope) get them to change their behavior.
“Empathize with others’ feelings and perspectives.” Good relationships are the foundation of mental health. Empathy, in turn, is fundamental to establishing and maintaining solid relationships. Fortunately, in a bit of cosmic justice, being empathetic seems to encourage people to be empathetic toward you — a true win-win.