Good Mental Hygiene Is Simply Routine
Good mental health is a topic for volumes of textbooks, but good mental hygiene is simple enough when it comes to healthy habits; it's all routine. Mental hygiene, like physical hygiene, is preventative self-care; by keeping your body and mind free of any precursors to problems, you'll stop them from occurring. If you've never heard of mental hygiene before, you may be surprised to hear that you're already practicing some of it.
Your daily physical health routine is actually a great start to what's called mental hygiene, that preventative care for your mind. Showering, brushing your teeth, and other physical self-care signals to your mind that caring for yourself is important, showing your subconscious and unconscious that self-care is valuable. You're starting the cycle of caring for your whole self simply by taking care of your physical body. What else can you do to improve your mental hygiene? Here's a quick list of of things you can add to your routine today.
Make your life more routine
This is where you'll find some easy mental hygiene gains. Routines are connected with reducing symptoms of anxiety, a common feeling in modern society. Simply doing everyday things like eating and showing at the same time every day makes a big difference for a lot of people. The more routine your life is, the more your less than conscious mind thinks things are "normal".
This kind of meditation is great for your mental hygiene. It's been linked with reducing symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions and may help prevent them from happening by improving your resilience. This is a relatively simply practice of using your conscious mind to watch what your less than conscious mind is doing. You won't be able to control those parts of your mind, but by becoming more aware of what your mind is doing, your mind will begin to calm itself naturally.
Stretching, like other kinds of physical care, signals to your body the value of self-care, but stretching has an additional benefit of relaxing muscles that may been causing stress mentally. Have you ever felt stress in one part of your physical body? It goes both ways, if your body is tight, it's probably causing stress in your mind too. Relaxing that part of your body enables stress to leave naturally, leaving you loose and relaxed (figuratively and literally).
Write, especially in a personal journal
Creativity is a great mental hygiene practice, and journaling is one of the best ways to help work through emotions while doing it. Creativity activates the left side of your brain, the side of your brain connected with resilience (the ability to go through stress without harming your health), and creatively expressing your emotions will enable you to process those emotions so you learn lessons from them instead of ruminating on any loss you may feel. Journaling can be done digitally, but there are some indicators that writing on physical paper helps you learn more efficiently and effectively.
Learn something new
Like writing, learning helps your mind to make new connections, which enhances neuroplasticity over time (neuroplasticity is a big word for your brain's ability to change). Along with exercise, continuing to learn is one of the most important indicators in reducing brain degeneration in old age. Brain degeneration is connected with diseases like Parkinson's; even when it doesn't lead to disease, cognitive impairment increases along with general degeneration. You don't have to learn a new language to keep your hygiene up (but challenging subjects like this help your brain a lot), learning anything new can help.
There's lots more you can find that will improve your mental hygiene, but do yourself a favor and start with a small list like this to avoid adding unnecessary stress or pressure.
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