Updated: May 26
Mental health challenges impact more people in the US than you might think. From struggling with anxiety and depression to substance abuse, nearly 50 million Americans are experiencing a mental illness.
Good mental health is determined by several factors, some of which you can control and some that you cannot. While professional and experienced doctors can treat mental illnesses, there are things you can do to establish healthy habits for your well-being. Let’s talk about some simple practices you can make for yourself and knowing when it’s time to see a doctor.
Don’t Stay Up Too Late
After a long day of work, sitting on the couch and staying up late watching your favorite show can feel like a relief. However, a lack of sleep can seriously affect your mental health. According to the Sleep Foundation, “sleep is closely connected to mental and emotional health and has demonstrated links to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other conditions.”
To get 8-10 hours of sleep each night, you need to be intentional about setting habits around your nightly routine. Some ways you can change your bedtime routine for the better:
No screen time one hour before bedtime. The blue light from mobile devices and TVs messes with your circadian rhythm, which is responsible for ensuring you go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning.
Keep your bedroom for sleeping only. Do not work in your bedroom, and don’t set up your office in your bedroom.
75% of depressed people show symptoms of insomnia. Poor sleep makes your depression worse.
Getting enough sleep isn’t just a “nice to have”; it’s critical for your well-being and mental health.
Take Time to Relax
In addition to poor sleep habits, stress is another critical component of poor mental health. There are several tools you can use when you’re feeling anxious. Here are a few examples:
Walking outdoors, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Doing a meditation. If you’re new to meditating, don’t worry. You don’t have to have any special equipment or previous knowledge. Search “guided meditations” on YouTube or Spotify and play one of their many guided meditations that will tell you what to do.
Deep breathing. People who are anxious tend to breathe very shallowly. To combat this, take four or five deep breaths. Inhale from your diaphragm through your nose, and exhale from your mouth. Do this four times, and you’ll be amazed at how much short-term relief you can get from deep breathing!
Journal. Handwrite your thoughts, or type them into a Google Sheet. Just write. If you want, start by writing a list of things you’re grateful for. Then, maybe write out your feelings about why you are feeling the way you are (i.e., being lonely, worrying about a big project coming up, break-ups, or being overscheduled.) It is amazing what a 5-10 minute writing session can do to get all your feelings out of your head and onto paper.
Focus On Your Physical & Emotional Health
Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally can improve your mental health. Treat yourself with kindness, pursue an exciting hobby, or listen to your favorite band to give back to yourself. Take time to slow down to enjoy the things that make you happy.
Other tips and tricks to help you combat feelings of having “the blahs” or being stressed:
Stay active. We know that exercise can help decrease anxiety and improve your mood. That doesn’t mean you have to work out for hours. Enjoying time outside, dancing, or yoga are great ways to engage your physical health.
Call a friend. When feeling anxious or depressed, it’s easy also to feel isolated and alone. Creating a social connection with a trusted confidant can provide the support you didn’t even know you needed.
Stay hydrated. While carbonated sodas and alcoholic beverages may seem appetizing, these drinks can aggravate problems you are already having. Keep yourself hydrated with water, sports drinks, or green tea.
Break up with sugar. Sugar can affect your mood and weaken your ability to deal with stress. Aim for natural sugars that are in fruit, and avoid candies, white flour, and sugary carbonated beverages.
Know When It’s Time For Professional Help
If you’ve tried some of these coping mechanisms and nothing seems to work, you might need professional medical attention. There’s no shame in getting medical assistance, especially when mental health treatment has been shown to be effective.
The sooner you seek medical attention for what might be depression or anxiety, the closer you are to feeling so much better. People who receive proper mental health care from trusted professionals often go on to lead peaceful, rewarding lives. Contact Crimson Care today if you’re interested in learning more about mental health care in Tuscaloosa.
Urgent Care for Mental Health in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
If you need mental health assistance in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, contact Urgent Mental Health Care by Crimson Care. We understand mental health is sensitive and can be scary for patients. It is our goal to make the process of getting help and finding care easier. Our physicians aim to be the bridge for our patient’s next steps on their mental health journey.