Busy professionals are well aware of the value of keeping their bodies physically healthy. But if you’re serious about keeping yourself as productive as possible, taking care of your mental wellness should be a top priority, too.
The good news is that mental health challenges are largely treatable, and specialists say that proactively managing them is the best approach. Getty
But mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are common, and not treating them can seriously slow you down.
The good news is that mental health challenges are largely treatable, and specialists say that proactively managing them is the best approach.
While it’s no surprise that good sleep, exercise and healthy eating are the foundations of mental wellness, there’s a lot more you can do to keep your mind in its best shape.
Here are six everyday habits that can improve your mental wellness.
1. Spend Time With Pets
Sure, pets require time and energy, but science says the effort is worth it: Spending time with pets benefits mental health. A survey performed by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute found 74 percent of pet owners said time with their pets improved their mental health.
“Petting your animals is amazing,” said marriage and family therapist Katie Ziskind. “It increases serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine, your feel-good brain chemicals.”
As a pet parent herself, Ziskind can attest to this firsthand: “After a long day at work, I take some time to hang out with my ferret and pet my cat, which makes me feel really good about my day, even if it was a long one.”
2. Subscribe To A Meal Service
Cooking is an excellent way to de-stress at the end of the day, but planning a meal, shopping and prep can be overwhelming. Enter meal services, the subscription services that deliver everything you need to make a healthy meal in just a few steps right to your door.
“Consider subscribing to a meal service,” suggested Christine Gutierrez, a licensed therapist and emotional health and wellness advocate. “This is great for busy, young professionals.”
These days, there are no shortage of services from which to choose, from well-known companies like Blue Apron to lesser-known ones like Hungryroot or Nomiku Meals, which sends prepared meals packaged for cooking sous vide. In some cities, you can find local companies and farmers markets that offer similar services.
3. Volunteer, Formally Or Informally
Donating your time and talents to worthy causes can help you while you help others. Experts believe volunteering can improve self-confidence and help with depression. And volunteering also has physical benefits, including lowering blood pressure and even helping you live longer.
But you don’t have to sign up with a nonprofit to get the mental health benefits of being charitable. According to Mental Health America, even small, informal acts of kindness — such as calling friends to see how they’re doing, helping an elderly neighbor unpack groceries or serving your spouse breakfast in bed — can boost your mental wellness.
“When you feel overwhelmed, reach out and do something nice for someone else,” advised family and relationship psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish.
“Being generous in words and actions creates positive feelings for the doer and gets your endorphins flowing.”