Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Mind
by Melissa Bradley, Clinical Director of Mental Health Services at the Florida Center for Early Childhood
Maintaining a healthy mind has become an increasingly vital aspect of overall well-being in today’s fast-paced and demanding world. Just as we care for our physical health through exercise and nutrition, tending to our mental and emotional well-being is equally important.
What thoughts come to mind when you hear the words “mental health?” For most, these words bring up negative images such as suicide, depression, or hallucinations. While those are certainly significant mental health struggles for some, I invite you to start thinking about mental health differently.
Very simply, “mental health” is how you keep your brain or mind healthy. The health of the mind is as
essential as the health of the body. That being said, it seems like talking about physical health, like
eating organic foods or exercising at the gym, is much easier than talking about the things we do to care
for our mental health. Below are five practices that can help you cultivate and maintain a healthy mind, enabling you to navigate life’s challenges with resilience and inner peace.
Here are 5 daily tips for maintaining a healthy mind:
- Self-care – Take a moment and reflect on the small things that make you feel good. Maybe it’s
reading a good book, or listening to a podcast while driving to work. Maybe it’s eating your favorite
food or even listening to songs by your favorite artist. Maybe it’s walking in nature, or even curling up in bed and taking a nap. Self-care isn’t about taking lavish trips. It’s about the small doses of pleasure we create for ourselves each day.
- Optimism – Despite what many of us learned when we were kids, there are very few situations that
are black and white, right or wrong, good or bad. The truth is, almost everything lies somewhere in a
shade of grey. While a coworker resigning may mean we lose our favorite person to have mid-day
laughs with, perhaps it also brings about an opportunity for advancement or a chance to make a new friend?
- Emotional Intelligence – One way to create a healthy mind is to learn to respond, rather than react,
to emotions. This is harder than it seems, and no one does this perfectly all the time. I invite you to
practice naming your feelings in the moment (“I’m feeling so frustrated!”), then think about what’s
happening in your body. Is your heart beating fast? Is your chest tight? Is your breathing shallow?
Connecting the feeling with the body sensations helps bring everything into your conscious awareness.
Once you’re able to identify what’s happening in your body, you can work to calm down or give yourself the space you need. When you’re truly feeling regulated, you can start wondering what was it that made you feel so frustrated. The more you can identify the ‘why,’ the more emotionally intelligent you become.
- Gratitude – Have you ever heard the phrase, “You give what you receive?” Well, it’s true! The
kindness you give to others will come back to you. There are a lot of ways to express gratitude. It can
be done publicly like thanking someone on social media or privately by sending a thoughtful text or card. Going out of your way to say, “thank you” or to recognize someone else’s efforts, not only feels good to them, but will also feel rewarding to you too.
- Connection – The single most important tip for maintaining a healthy mind is….drumroll,
please….CONNECTION! It’s through meaningful connections with others that a sense of acceptance and belonging is gained. We feel safe when we connect with others. We feel heard when we are listened to. We feel appreciated, seen, valued, and cared for when we are held and encouraged. We feel joy when we smile together, and comfort when we are shown that we are good enough.
Maintaining a healthy mind is a continuous journey that requires consistent effort. By incorporating these practices into your life, you can cultivate resilience and emotional well-being.
So, let’s start being intentional about taking care of our minds. Let’s normalize the conversations and
share our techniques when talking with others. Let’s nurture and appreciate our minds, because having
great mental health is truly a superpower! Remember that everyone’s path is unique, so find what works best for you and make it a priority. Embrace the journey of nurturing your mind, and reap the benefits of a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life.