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Counseling Corner: Steps toward a mentally healthier you

American Counseling Association | 2/4/2019, 11:43 a.m.
It’s true that most of us don’t give our mental health much attention unless we’re facing a serious problem. That’s ...
Stock photo The Dallas Examiner

American Counseling Association

It’s true that most of us don’t give our mental health much attention unless we’re facing a serious problem. That’s too bad, because in today’s complicated world most of us could stand to reduce our stress and worry, and to feel better about ourselves.

Think of improving your mental health as similar to improving your physical health. Just as exercise gets your muscles in better shape, there are things you can do to get your feelings and attitudes into better shape.

A good starting point is simply to make time for yourself. In today’s busy world, it’s easy to fill our days with work, family and social obligations, leaving little or no time for ourselves.

The fix for that is to include “you” in your daily schedule.

Create a real schedule that includes time each day for at least one thing you find pleasant and enjoyable. Maybe it’s reading a book, working at a hobby or just taking a relaxing walk. Put it on your calendar and make sure it happens.

Getting involved with others is another way to reduce stress and feel better about yourself. Community, civic and religious organizations are always eager for volunteers to help carry out their work.

Giving something back to the community can offer a meaningful escape from your own problems – and often puts such problems in a better perspective – while also providing a sense of fulfillment and self-worth that’s essential for good mental health.

And don’t ignore staying physically fit as a means to improve mental health. Studies find regular exercise is a great way to fight depression, for example. Plus, as we get ourselves into better shape, we usually start to feel more confident about ourselves – everything from how we look to what we can do. And that’s good mental health.

There’s no magic way to make stress and problems just disappear but building a little relaxation into your life, helping those in need and staying physically active can all improve mental health and make it easier to cope with the problems you will face.

But if you find that your own actions don’t have you feeling better, check out the assistance that a professional counselor can offer.

There are many fixes for better mental health. Whether it’s steps you take on your own, or help you get from a professional counselor, good mental health is a goal worth achieving.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions can be sent to acacorner@counseling.org or visit http://www.counseling.org.