Mental Health Checklist – Sleep, Laughter, Journaling, Gratitude, Mindfulness

It may surprise you to recognise just how many physical ailments can arise as a result of emotional and mental stress. Ranging from locked jaw to digestive distress, skin problems, hair loss, metabolic imbalance, and high blood pressure, neglecting mental health could very well be the root cause of severe health issues.

Ayurvedic practitioners have heralded the importance of mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing for centuries, expertly integrating practices that nurture the mind and heart with as much attention as the body. In our feature on Ayurveda for Mental Health, we shared with our readers some key Ayurvedic practices that address the non-physical aspects of holistic health.

While some Ayurvedic practices require expertise and guidance, there are many gentle practices that can augment your me-time to boost your spiritual and mental wellbeing. Here’s a list that may help you check in with yourself!

  1. Laughter:
     As we explored in our feature A Chuckle Can Go a Long Way, it has been proven that laughter plays a pivotal role in promoting positive mental health. A natural stress-reliever, it releases endorphins that elevate mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Laughter, especially when shared, fosters a sense of connection, improves cognitive function and creativity, and enhances problem-solving skills. Whether through joining a Laughter Club, or by engaging in light activities, the physical act of smiling and laughing can have real physical manifestations on mood, muscle relaxation, and hormone balance. While we do not advocate for faking happiness, every so often it could lighten your load to watch a funny movie, watch a stand-up comic, read a humorous book, or smile to yourself during daily tasks!

  2. Sleep
    Sleep is intricately linked to mental health and can have a profound impact on emotional well-being. When sleep is disrupted or inadequate, it can lead to increased irritability and anxiety, and may even exacerbate symptoms of depression. On the other hand, a well-rested body and mind can consolidate memories and rejuvenate, which is crucial for maintaining cognitive function and emotional stability. Consistent, quality sleep is essential for regulating mood, managing stress, and processing emotions effectively. For the best quality of sleep, ensure a device-free hour before bedtime, avoid screens in the dark, and try to go to sleep (and wake up) at roughly the same time every day!

  3.  Journaling
    Journaling regularly can offer a safe, private space to express thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Writing down one’s feelings can aid in identifying patterns, triggers, and coping strategies for managing stress, anxiety, and depression. Journaling can not only help release and analyse pent-up emotions, but can also aid in identifying patterns, triggers, and self-destructive habits. As explored in our feature on The Power of the Written Word, journaling can also serve as a habit tracker for personal and professional goals and achievements, boosting self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. This proven therapeutic practice may be just what you need to feel empowered to navigate the complexities of your inner world, in a way that is introspective, free of judgement, and just for you!

  4.  Mindfulness
    A mindful life is one that remains focused on the present, keeping away from the regrets of the past and the fears about the future. Practicing mindfulness fosters mental well-being by reinforcing optimism, resilience, and a deeper connection to one’s own thoughts and emotions. It has been known to help combat anxiety and depression, ultimately promoting a healthier state of mind!

  5. Meditation and Yoga
    A healthy mind and healthy body go hand-in-hand. Even gentle practices of yogic breathing, meditation, and yoga can go a long way in maintaining physical strength, flexibility, and strong organs, along with promoting a calm mind and a soothed soul. A regular practice of yoga and meditation has been proven to promote strong mental health, allowing time each day for connecting with the breath and body, and eventually to the mind and spirit!

If you’re not sure how to begin your relationship with these practices, visit some of our earlier features!

Maintaining your mental health is a life-long process, requiring periodic check-ins through the inevitable ups and downs of life. But with some effort and consistency, a little self-love, and help from professionals when needed, it is possible to ensure the wellness of one of the most important tenets of holistic health!

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