ua en ru

Understanding mental hygiene: Why it's essential for your well-being

Understanding mental hygiene: Why it's essential for your well-being Illustrative photo (Photo: Freepik)
Author: Daria Shekina

There are hygiene habits in our lives that we perceive as necessary, such as washing hands and brushing our teeth. All of this allows us to maintain our physical health. But just as importantly, we need to care for our mental hygiene.

RBC-Ukraine, according to the Instagram portal Meclee on psychological health, explains what this phenomenon is and why it is so important.

What is mental hygiene and why is it so important?

Quite often, we overlook habits that support our mental health—our mental hygiene. As a result, we experience anxiety attacks, sudden emotional outbursts, irritability, or feelings of depression.

The development of a culture of mental hygiene among Ukrainians is crucial, as everyone wants to live in a psychologically healthy society.

The importance of mental hygiene has been recently discussed and is gaining increasing significance. Mental hygiene encompasses practices aimed at improving psychological well-being, reducing stress, strengthening relationships with others, and enhancing the quality of life. Not only does our mental health depend on this direction, but also our physical condition and longevity.

The foundation of mental hygiene lies in self-care skills, starting with physical needs:

  • Adequate sleep
  • Hydration balance
  • Regular nutrition that meets the body's needs and physical activity.

Sometimes, we get used to tolerating physical discomfort and ignoring our bodily needs for the sake of work or other tasks. It's important that you pay attention to the signals your body sends and learn to respond to them appropriately, satisfying your physical needs first. Without this, it's impossible to preserve mental health.

Another crucial skill is the ability to return to the present moment through meditation, breathing practices, mindfulness, or simply taking breaks during the day when you shift your focus from thoughts and tasks to yourself in the moment.

This way, you can establish a better connection with yourself, learn more about your true needs and emotions, and enjoy your life when it happens, right now. Make it a habit to dedicate some attention to yourself for at least a few minutes a day.

Another aspect is conscious handling of your emotions, the ability to experience and express them, as opposed to ignoring, silencing, or suppressing your feelings. Useful practices here can include keeping a diary, practicing healthy communication, identifying your trigger points, and working through them in therapy, among others. The shared idea behind all this is that your emotions are important; you have the right to feel and express them.

Understanding mental hygiene: Why it's essential for your well-beingWhat is mental hygiene and why is it so important (Photo: Freepik)

Personal boundaries are also a factor in our mental hygiene. These include:

  • Our capabilities' limits, when we learn to take on the load that we can handle
  • Time boundaries, the time we allocate to different spheres of our lives; the ability to say "no" to things that are detrimental or unsatisfactory for us
  • The ability to distinguish our goals and desires from those imposed by others
  • Respect for other people's boundaries.

Our mental health is affected not only by internal but also external factors. Mental hygiene involves conscious control over what surrounds you and actions to create a comfortable environment for yourself. This concerns physical comfort (warmth, convenience, cleanliness), psychological environment (who you communicate with, how you communicate, and how this communication affects you), and informational environment (news, social media).

Since we are social beings, communication is also essential for mental health, and social isolation, on the contrary, harms it. It's important to have people to whom you feel attached and sympathetic: friends, family, or a partner.

Feeling part of a larger group also has a positive impact—this could be participating in a volunteer movement or joining a fan club of your favorite writer. Virtual communication is also valuable, but it cannot replace real live contact.

Previously, we talked about how to learn to manage your emotions.