Mental Health

Ways for Women Can Improve Their Mental Health

Good mental health doesn’t necessarily mean being happy all the time. Women with good mental health can experience happiness and sadness, anger, and excitement, all in healthy ways. When you have good habits to improve mental health, it means your mind can perform all its functions appropriately.

You can do things such as:

  • Learn new information
  • Build strong relationships with other people
  • Adapt quickly to change
  • Experience a range of emotions in a healthy way
  • Work and contribute productively

How to achieve better mental health

Good habits to improve mental health will look different for every woman. For instance, some women relax by taking a quiet bath while others release stress through physical activity.

To help maintain good mental health, you can:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Practice mindfulness (living in the moment).
  • Get eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Express gratitude for things and people in your life.
  • Say positive things about yourself and others.
  • Make new friends and connections.
  • Participate in activities you enjoy.

However, if you face a condition such as depression or an anxiety disorder, these healthy habits alone may not be enough to improve your mental health.

Women’s mental health issues

Women often face different mental health challenges than men. Women have higher rates of anxiety and depression, which can be related to physical health factors. Changes in hormones can lead to postpartum depression, depression during menopause or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

How women experience mental health conditions can also be different. While some men may act out in anger due to depression, women are more likely to experience fatigue, sadness, and lack of motivation.

Each year, around 29 million American women experience mental health conditions. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. You can find support through friends, family, your community, and your healthcare provider.

Treatment for women’s mental health conditions

If you think you or someone you love is facing mental health challenges, you should seek help and support. Your healthcare providers can connect you with the resources that can help you learn new habits to improve mental health. You can also talk to a number of trusted health providers, including:

  • Your primary care physician
  • Your OB/GYN
  • A psychiatrist
  • A licensed counselor

Tips To Boost Your Mental Health

Spend some time with a furry friend.

Time with animals lowers the stress hormone – cortisol, and boosts oxytocin – which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, hang out with a friend who does or volunteer at a shelter.

Has something been bothering you? Let it all out…on paper.

Writing about upsetting experiences can reduce symptoms of depression.

Relax in a warm bath once a week.

Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.

Go ahead and yawn.

Studies suggest that yawning helps cool the brain and improves alertness and mental efficiency.

Dance around while you do your housework.

Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel-good” chemicals).

Go off the grid.

Leave your smart phone at home for a day and disconnect from constant emails, alerts, and other interruptions. Spend time doing something fun with someone face-to-face.

Take time to laugh.

Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out cute videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.

Feeling anxious? Take a trip down memory lane and do some coloring

for about 20 minutes to help you clear your mind. Pick a design that’s geometric and a little complicated for the best effect. Check out hundreds of free printable coloring pages here.

Sometimes, we don’t need to add new activities to get more pleasure.

We just need to soak up the joy in the ones we’ve already got. Trying to be optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

-Maya Angelou. If you have personal experience with mental illness or recovery, share on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr with #mentalillnessfeelslike.

Boost brainpower by treating yourself to a couple pieces of dark chocolate every few days.

The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills.

Show some love to someone in your life.

Close, quality, relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.

Experiment

with a new recipe, write a poem, paint or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.

Keep it cool for a good night’s sleep.

The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Work your strengths.

Do something you’re good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task.

Set up a getaway.

It could be camping with friends or a trip to the tropics. The act of planning a vacation and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks!

Start your day with a cup of co­ffee.

Coff­ee consumption is linked to lower rates of depression. If you can’t drink coff­ee because of the caff­eine, try another good-for-you drink like green tea.

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Track gratitude and achievement with a journal.

Include 3 things you were grateful for and 3 things you were able to accomplish each day.

Be a tourist in your own town.

Often times people only explore attractions on trips, but you may be surprised what cool things are in your own backyard.

Try prepping your lunches or picking out your clothes for the work week.

You’ll save some time in the mornings and have a sense of control about the week ahead.

Work some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet

–they are linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia among their many benefits. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria.

Practice forgiveness

even if it’s just forgiving that person who cut you off during your commute. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives.

Feeling stressed? Smile.

It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down.

Send a thank you note

– not for a material item, but to let someone know why you appreciate them. Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness.

Do something with friends and family

– have a cookout, go to a park, or play a game. People are 12 times more likely to feel happy on days that they spend 6-7 hours with friends and family.

Take 30 minutes to go for a walk in nature

– it could be a stroll through a park, or a hike in the woods. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.

Take 30 minutes to go for a walk in nature

– it could be a stroll through a park, or a hike in the woods. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.

Other ways

Strategies to manage your mental health vary widely, and what works for one woman will not necessarily appeal to another. Focus on developing a unique strategy for yourself based on your interests, rather than pursuing an activity because it worked for a friend.

Here are five suggestions:

  • Get at least 15 minutes of sunshine per day, which is shown to boost vitamin D and elevate your mood.
  • Spend half an hour in nature whenever you can. Whether on a park trail, a riverway or the beach, nature boosts well-being.
  • Take a short trip, exploring what’s in your local area. Experiencing a change of scenery can provide much-needed stimulation and reduce anxiety.
  • Unplug from devices. Turning off and/or leaving behind your smartphone, tablet and laptop halts the constant flow and interruption of messages, and can bring relaxation and real-life reconnection.
  • Practice forgiveness. Those who do forgive others — or even themselves — report better mental health and life satisfaction.

Bottom Line

Mental health and physical health are similar, but distinct. For example, we know that there is a connection between the mind and the gastrointestinal system, and many psychological conditions manifest as physical ailments. While physical health deals more with the longevity of one’s life, mental health is associated with both longevity and quality of a person’s life.

A healthy lifestyle will improve your mental outlook. This includes moderate drinking of alcohol, eating a nutritious diet and finding an exercise practice you enjoy. How you manage your life challenges has a direct effect on your daily life, as well as your relationships with others.

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