Baltimore is a beautiful city, but it isn’t always the most comfortable place to live. When the weather gets hot, or the traffic backs up, the city can start to feel a little crazy. But that doesn’t mean that it has to drive us crazy.
That’s why we teamed up with mental health experts like the ones at the Baltimore Therapy Group to come up with a guide to assessing and caring for your own mental health. These tips should be useful just about anywhere; here in busy, stressful Baltimore, they’re practically essential.
Maintain work-life balance
The United States is a busy, hard-working place. Particularly on the East Coast, we Americans have a reputation for moving fast and working long hours. We leave vacation days on the table, and we take our work home with us, and (not so coincidentally) we experience a lot of workplace stress.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Focusing on a work-life balance, experts say, can help those of us who live and work in big cities like Baltimore to calm down and enjoy life a bit more. And, happily, caring for our mental health in this way will only make us more productive and effective at work.
You should carve out times and places in your life where work is not allowed. The bedroom and late nights are the right places to start because a great sleep is essential to your mental and physical health. Plan and take vacations, and don’t let work rule your life.
Care for your body
One of the best ways to care for your mind is simply to care for your body.
That’s because there’s much less of a distinction between mental and physical health than many of us realize. When you eat lousy food, for instance, you won’t just get sick and fat; you’ll also harm your mental health and make yourself more susceptible to conditions like depression. When you work out, you’re not just getting thinner and stronger. You’re also boosting your mood and, over time, improving your mental health.
So eat right (you want to target whole foods and ditch the processed stuff), exercise (150 minutes per week), and visit your primary care physician for regular checkups. With so many great food options, exercise opportunities, and doctors here in Maryland, there’s no excuse for not taking care of yourself.
Visiting your primary care physician once a year is a no-brainer. But you do have a brain, so here’s a tip for keeping that brain healthy: Visit mental health care providers regularly, too.
You don’t need to have a serious mental health issue to benefit from mental health care (any more than you need a physical illness or injury to benefit from a doctor’s checkup). A psychologist or therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy can be a great choice for even the most mentally stable among us. Unlike certain prescription medicines and some other mental health treatments, therapy isn’t just a treatment for a problem (though it can help with many); it’s also something proactive that you can do to improve everything from your productivity to the quality of your marriage.
Check-in with yourself
One reason to consider therapy is that it helps to have a professional check out your mental health once in a while. A therapist can help you to notice when you’re becoming more irritable or stressed, or to spot issues with your happiness and contentment. Even if you don’t choose to go to therapy (though, again, you should!), you should take a moment every once in a while to consider your mental health. Schedule a regular time to take stock of your feelings. Once a week or so, think about your own thinking; you just might discover something that you can work on to improve your life.