Mental Hygiene: Why Do We Need Itby Intelligent Change
How often do you see words “mental” and “hygiene” in the same sentence? We look after our appearance, wash our clothes, bathe, and maintain body hygiene in order to preserve good health, but what do we do to maintain the good hygiene of our soul?
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is an integral part of health and there is no health without mental health”. Mental health is also so much more than the absence of mental illness. It’s about living a fulfilling life and unleashing your full potential; it’s about having a satisfying social and emotional life and a sense of purpose, being able to do meaningful work and live in harmony with yourself.
In this article, our goal is to shed light on what mental hygiene is, explain why it’s important, and give some advice on its maintenance.
What Is Mental Hygiene?
Mental hygiene is a type of positive medical practice focused on health instead of sickness and designed to help maintain good emotional and mental wellbeing.
The concept dates back to the early 20th century, when American psychiatrist Clifford Beers first defined it as the “set of practice designed to allow a person to enjoy their mental health and be in harmony with their socio-cultural surroundings”. Beautifully put, right?
Mental health issues are so often portrayed in a devastating manner, designed to reveal prejudice and stigma that follow them. Rarely do we speak about mild forms of mental health problems and their successful resolutions. Or how not only to avoid falling victim to mental illness, but how to enrich our mental wellbeing, improve our emotional intelligence, and educate ourselves.
The main goal of mental hygiene is to improve the quality of life by preventing negative behaviors and providing emotional stability. Good mental health allows us to be life-long learners, to make a difference by work we’re doing, build strong and meaningful connections, reflect, overcome difficulties, create a better world, and prosper as individuals and as a society.
When Clifford Beers first spoke about mental hygiene, the need for establishing such practice was quite obvious, although the social climate, people’s overall lifestyle, and knowledge about mental health were dramatically different than today. Even so, the need for a positive approach was recognized.
Despite the fact that society has progressed a lot since then and that the idea of mental hygiene has developed quite a bit, the need for it has also skyrocketed. Mental hygiene is both about personal growth and enriching our existence, as well as knowing how to recognize, accept, and react when we, or someone dear to us, is not okay.
How to Maintain Mental Hygiene
Luckily, today we know a myriad of things and practices one can do to establish a mental hygiene routine. We as a brand are mainly focused on creating products and rituals that support this practice, and we also do our best to share answers to some of the most important questions about mental health: the life-changing power of gratitude, smart and efficient productivity ,balanced lifestyle, strong relationships, and so on.
Here are some of the activities that we’ve selected as most important for the practice of mental hygiene.
Aware and Mindful Consumption
In the information era, endlessly scrolling our feeds and selecting information and content to consume is one of our biggest issues. Social media posts, new challenges and trends, commercials, ads, movies– this list has no end. Just like you don’t want to eat everything you set your eyes on, your mind and soul need a break and a special criteria for consumption of cultural products that surround you.
Since megalomania and overconsumption have been such an alerting problem for a long period of time, mindful consumption has practically become a social movement—a set of rules and habits designed to ground us.
Over the last couple of years, research has revealed that mindlessness and overconsumption along with prioritizing materialistic goals in life have poor effects on our personal wellbeing. People who live this lifestyle have lower happiness levels, lower life satisfaction levels, and are more prone to suffer from depression and anxiety.
Mindful consumption–not only of the information, but also of material goods–, on the other hand, can only make us feel good about ourselves, as it’s geared towards taking care of our genuine needs, the environment, society, and the economy. Unlike compulsive shopping, for example, it’s not a stress-coping mechanism, but a healthy lifestyle practice.
Here are some of the most important mindful consumption criteria:
- Performance: of course, we all want to purchase a product that performs. Mindful shoppers won’t buy three products to check which one works best, but consult friends, family, or an expert from their circle, read product reviews, check forums, social media, and blogs.
- Organic: when it comes to food, it’s quite clear–support producers and retailers who grow their veggies and fruits naturally and are mindful of the environment. Apply the same principle to clothes and beauty products and pick brands with organic labels.
- Sustainable: this can be challenging sometimes, but do your best to pick sustainable products over those that require centuries to dissolve. Glass, cardboard, recycled and recycling paper, or reusable packaging instead of single-use plastic.
- Cruelty-free and vegan: food, cosmetics, and products usually fall into this category. There are perfectly good replacements for different products that don’t test on animals. On top of that, check the Internet for some amazing vegan and vegetarian recipes that can aid you in maintaining a healthy and diversified diet.
- Fairtrade: behind too many hyper-expensive big brands stand thousands of heavily exploited workers from countries with high poverty levels. As consumers, we can stand up to this by boycotting such brands and supporting those who pay and treat their workers fairly.
For more information on going green as a consumer and becoming a more mindful and responsible consumer, check out our step-by-step guide.
Routines and Rituals
Routines and rituals give us a sense of extra control and stability in life. They make this chaotic world structured and organized, filled with meaning and calmness. At least one daily routine, such as a morning, evening, or family routine can help you feel calm and grounded.
Routines and rituals give us consistency and are an important part of maintaining our mental hygiene. Of course, it’s desirable for them to be health-oriented. For example, your morning routine can involve an early wakeup, healthy breakfast, gratitude journaling, a short workout, and a walk to work.
In our opinion, one of the pillars of mental hygiene is the practice of gratitude. We’ve designed several products to make your gratitude practice simple, life-changing and memorable.
The Five Minute Journal, The Five Minute Journal for Kids, and The Five Minute Journal app are physical and digital journals that are incredibly rewarding and easy to implement in your morning, evening, or family routines.
Practicing gratitude on a daily level gives us a new perspective on life. It opens our mind and consequently our brain for more positive experiences. With gratitude, we learn that life is abundant if we can truly acknowledge it and appreciate even the smallest things, and that every experience brings a valuable lesson, no matter how difficult it is.
Let’s get real: our daily reality is filled with negative information. This can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. Falling into a vortex of negative news is definitely not a positive mental hygiene practice, however, it’s also not part of a healthy mental hygiene to be ignorant and pretend that things are not happening.
However, we advise that you don’t stop in your quest to stay informed, but balance it out with other mindful activities. Take time each day to do something you enjoy: listen to music that excites you, consume enlightening information, practice spirituality, immerse yourself in creative activities, or be a common visitor to museums. Now that’s mental hygiene.
Nurture Relationships With People that Matter to you
Human beings are an important source of our mental health. The emotional connection, a strong bond, the stories we share, activities we do together, the laughter. Lack of social contact is a serious predictor of mental health issues. Even if you’re a total introvert, we bet you enjoy a good coffee with one or two of your friends from time to time.
Make sure that you surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself, who love and support you, and give you a sense of fulfillment and joy. Limit your time with those who constantly judge, complain, and drain your energy. Setting clear boundaries is an important part of self-care and your mental hygiene.
Healthy body–healthy mind. Physical activity should be a part of every person’s daily routine. This could be a light morning exercise, yoga, mindful walks in nature, and light stretching in the evening before you go to bed.
Physical activity helps us maintain our happiness hormone levels, and makes us more resilient to stressful situations. The contribution of physical activity to mental health is proof that mind and body truly are connected, and we can only remain balanced if we maintain good hygiene of both of them.
While mental hygiene is a lot about introspection, self-care, and focusing on our own needs, it’s far from being synonymous with selfishness or egocentrism. We can only be good for others if we’re good for ourselves first, so keep in mind that your good mood, vitality, and mental health will have a huge positive impact on those around you.
Remember how it feels to spend time with someone who is smiling, active, appreciative, and optimistic about life. It’s inspiring, right? It makes you want to join them in that feeling and makes you think that you can and should feel that joyful and happy, too. Well, you can do this by taking care of your mental health.