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How to Improve Your Mental Health
Through Simple Daily Habits

By Mikkie Mills

Adults in the United States rate their stress levels at an average of 5.1 out of 10. They report that this stress has a negative impact on their mental health. Furthermore, many feel that they aren't doing enough to manage this stress. From pressure at work and home to traffic and small arguments, there are many things that can wither away our overall mental health. However, there are just as many things that can help us improve our mental health. The important thing is to work to manage this stress. Here are some simple daily habits to help improve your mental health.

1. Meditation

Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. Despite being considered a spiritual or even religious practice, meditation has since undergone rigorous scientific study with incredible results. Many of the benefits touted by practitioners are backed up by hard data. Some of these include reduced stress, anxiety control, promoting emotional health and may even help fight addictions. Meditation is a simple practice that can be exercised every day in a matter of minutes. While there are many methods for meditation, the general guidelines revolve around focusing on the breath and allowing all external distractions to go unnoticed. The ultimate goal is to bring about a sense of mindfulness.

2. Exercise

Many people roll their eyes when hearing exercise promoted as a 'simple' daily practice. In reality, even a small bit of movement can help out tremendously with mental health. In this world of technology, adults spend an average of over 10 hours staring at screens. This can have a negative impact on our mental health and stress levels. By taking time to move around and exercise, our minds are getting a break from focusing on screens and other stressors. More specifically, exercise can have a positive effect on anxiety, memory, sleep, depression and overall mood. In addition to improving mental health, exercise can help to build muscle, cardiovascular health and respiratory functioning. With a healthier body, mental health is reinforced.

3. Ancient Chinese Practices

There are many ancient movement techniques that come from the rich history of China. Tai Chi is perhaps the most widely known of these techniques. It is often spoke in combination with Qigong, another ancient practice dating back 5,000 years. These techniques involve smooth and controlled movements of the body in line with ancient philosophies and spirituality. As they are practiced today however, more focus is put on the movements. One particular study focused on the health effects from these two practices with promising results. Qigong and Tai Chi were found to improve the general quality of life, anxiety, self-efficacy and depression. All of these are critical factors in a person's overall mental health. Qigong teacher training courses can be taken up as a daily practice.

4. Yoga

Yoga is another ancient technique that has had an explosion of popularity over the world. Originating in ancient India, this practice includes spiritual, mental and physical disciplines. The most popular forms of Yoga see the body moving in particular patterns and holds while controlling the breath. Yoga has been shown to relieve stress, increase body awareness and calm the nervous system. This discipline has also been shown to enhance concentration and attention. Yoga doesn't require any equipment to perform, although a mat is recommended to reduce slipping. There are an untold number of classes offered throughout the United States for those who prefer to learn from a professional.

The key to improving mental health is consistency. All of these disciplines and practices have been shown to correlate with an improvement in overall mental health. Some of these benefits include stress release, decreased anxiety, improved depression and more. Beyond mental health, all of these practices also have a great impact on overall physical well-being. These practices can be used individually or in conjunction. Practitioners should do adequate research to ensure their form is proper and effective. There are endless sources online to help in learning these techniques.

About Mikkie Mills: “I’m a Chicago native who loves to share her expertise about personal development and growth. When I’m not writing, I’m chasing the little ones around or rock climbing at the local climbing gym.” More articles by Mikkie

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