Under the Hood

Simple Strategies To Improve Your Mental Health

Mental health problems are common yet no less serious issues that affect you and everyone else.

That is why, more than ever this year, your mental health is just as important as your physical well-being, helping you deal with stress, anxiety and depression that can affect both your brain and your whole body. Because what is the use of doing what you have to do every day if you do not have the right mindset to work alongside it?

To start, here are some simple, scientifically-proven strategies that will improve your mental (and physical) health, courtesy of Fox affiliate TV station Q13 FOX:

Be optimistic 

Looking at the bright side of life is good for you mentally. 

More accurately, a study by the Boston University School of Medicine found that being optimistic results in 35 percent less chance of dying from cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack or stroke. It makes you more likely to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, have a stronger immune system and live longer.

The study also found that people with the most positive outlook have the greatest odds of living at ages 85 and above.

Start volunteering 

Volunteering or doing charity work, be it in a secular, non-sectarian organization or in a place of worship, is a great way to improve your mental health. 

Studies by the National Institutes of Health found that being selflessly altruistic, putting the well-being of others before your own without expecting something in return, stimulates the brain's reward centers.

Dopamines, the feel-good chemicals that flood your brain, gives you what is called a "helper's high," and can reduce stress and depression. 

Practice gratefulness 

When things do not go as expected at the end of the day, do not feel bad. Instead, try to be grateful about the positive things that happened on that day. 

According to Frontiers in Psychology, a study that was conducted on middle school students found that those who practice gratitude had fewer behavioral issues. 

Experts said that one of the best ways to make gratefulness a part of life is by keeping a daily journal. Before going to sleep, write down any positive experience, no matter how small, that you had that day.

Be sociable 

Being sociable will make you physically healthy and live longer. That is according to a study from Harvard University.

The study followed 700 people over a span of 75 years, and found that those who reached out to friends in "high conflict" situations such as a divorce or a death in the family were healthier overall.

Find your purpose 

Living with a purpose to fulfill will keep you focused mentally and add meaning to your life. 

Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that a sense of purpose will come from being a part of something bigger than ourselves, and pointed that religion, family and social causes are ways to increase meaning to our lives.

Brain Brain. Aban Nesta / Flickr

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