Mental hygiene is a concept used to refer to the set of habits and strategies thanks to which our mind is in harmony with the environment in which we live and the people we relate to.
Thus, we have mental hygiene no longer when our brain is “healthy”, but when what we do and say fits well with the life we want to be experiencing in a given context. This phenomenon is related to high self-esteem, a proper self-concept and a way of seeing life that moves away from emotional stagnation and limiting beliefs.
Mental hygiene and the importance of context
We often think of psychological well-being as something that depends entirely on the individual . That is, something that is born from within oneself spontaneously (or through willpower) and that comes to completely cover the person’s life experience in any possible situation.
The idea of mental hygiene, however, starts from a more complete conception of psychological well-being and quality of life, since it is based on the assumption that human beings are bio-psycho-social .
This means that, just as we are able to change the environment in which we live, our body’s interaction with the environment also transforms us.Thus, mental well-being is not a one-way street, but has two directions: what we choose to do and what the context in which we live gives us back.
In short, mental hygiene consists of an emotional and cognitive balance between our expectations and what happens to us in the here and now. Therefore, it is very applicable when talking about quality of life in a holistic way.
Keys to applying mental hygiene
Below you can find a series of general tips to be able to have mental hygiene and enjoy its benefits. In any case, keep in mind that each person is a world and you should think about how best to apply them to your life.
1. Question your expectations
Sometimes much of the emotional pain in our lives comes from unreasonable expectations. That is why it is good to ask ourselves d e where these expectations have come from : are they the result of advertising and marketing? Are we comparing ourselves to people we hardly know and who can easily offer their best version?
2. Get rid of the impossible
Another key to applying mental hygiene is to reflect on which objectives are, by definition, unattainable . This will allow us, firstly, to get rid of these goals more easily and, secondly, to direct our attention to stimulating and realistic objectives that we are letting go and that could help us to embark on a path of personal development.
3. Take care of your relationships
Stop and think about your relationships and whether they are symmetrical or not. Do you spend a lot of time and effort keeping close to people who don’t belong to you? Do you miss the opportunity to bond with people for whom you are very important? Friendship and affection are not a commodity, but they are worth cultivating for the mutual good.
4. Think about your basic needs
It is difficult to feel good psychologically if basic needs are not met. That is why in order to apply mental hygiene it is necessary to have guaranteed a good diet, a home and sufficient hours of sleep .
This last factor, which is often ignored, is fundamental for our body to repair itself (including our brain, which is responsible for our mental life) and, as far as diet is concerned, it is important to be clear that eating a lot is not the same as having all the materials our body needs to function well.
5. Practice resilience
Resilience is the ability to cope with crisis situations that can put our happiness at risk, such as the death of a friend or a layoff. Practicing it implies learning to distance ourselves from the pessimistic reading of reality that can come to us from the hand of those situations and see our present and our future with greater perspective. This will be a powerful strategy that will feed our mental hygiene.
6. Set yourself specific objectives
There is nothing that activates our entity as much as a series of objectives that have meaning for us. Setting well-defined goals will allow us to remain active while exercising our ingenuity and our management of emotions so that, working in a coordinated manner, we can get where we want to go.
Moreover, the fact of marking a few days limit helps to fight procrastination (or the “I’ll do it tomorrow” syndrome).
7. Practice full attention
To manage the rests and the moments of relaxation is essential to apply the mental hygiene; we cannot be always giving turns to the same thing or carrying out the same frenetic activities. Resting from work and responsibilities will allow us to free our mind and break with the thoughts in loop.
This can be achieved through meditation or mindfulness. And, if we do this in very calm and natural environments that do not contain references to our obligations, so much the better.