When daily life starts taking a toll on your mental health, it can be hard to know how to get back to a sense of normalcy. But the key to mental health lies in the day-to-day. The mental hygiene habits that you practice every day are essential to keeping a healthy mind — and healthy marriage.
What is Mental Hygiene?
The word hygiene usually denotes habits that support physical health, like brushing your teeth or showering. But this kind of hygiene is all about your habits that benefit your mental health. Mental hygiene is defined by Encyclopedia Britannica as “the science of maintaining mental health and preventing the development of psychosis, neurosis, or other mental disorders.”
Anything you do regularly to maintain your emotional stability and mental wellbeing could be characterized as mental hygiene. Regular exercise, good sleeping habits, and an active social life are just a few examples of mental hygiene.
Is a Lack of Mental Hygiene a Sign of Mental Illness?
Mental illness is sometimes unavoidable. However, many people who suffer from conditions such as anxiety and depression find that they can keep their symptoms at bay by practicing good mental hygiene.
The inverse is also true - bad habits can trigger or worsen anxious and depressive episodes. If you or your partner is susceptible to mental illness, good mental hygiene is critical to the health of your relationship.
A lack of mental hygiene can also be a sign of mental illness. Things such as inconsistent sleep cycles or lack of interest in socializing can often be a clue that a person is suffering from a mental illness.
How Can You Improve Your Mental Hygiene?
If you or your partner is feeling mentally unwell, it might be a good idea to take inventory of your habits. How often do you exercise? How much screen time are you logging each day? When was the last time you took a vacation?
In relationships, our habits and routines often develop over the course of many years. If you and your spouse aren’t being mindful of how your habits shape your mental health, you should work together to support each other as you adopt a healthier way of life.
Read on for a few ways to improve your daily habits and take control of your mental hygiene.
1. Practice Sleep Hygiene
Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Studies show that sleep acts as a natural antidepressant and helps the body regulate stress hormones.
Moreover, an evening routine with your partner is a nice way to spend quality time together after a long day. It offers you a chance to connect emotionally, relax, and be physically intimate. If you’re experiencing a lack of intimacy in your relationship, a strong sleep hygiene routine can help.
When you adhere to a bedtime routine, you’ll fall asleep quickly and wake up feeling refreshed. Here are a few tips to improve your sleep habits:
Put on pajamas.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Brush your teeth, wash your face, and put on pajamas.
Dim the lights throughout the house.
Don’t keep or use any devices in the bedroom.
Read a book.
Drink non-caffeinated hot tea.
Take a warm bubble bath or shower.
2. Move Your Body
Exercise is an invaluable part of mental hygiene. Endorphins are an efficient mood booster, and regular exercise means better sleep.
If you’re new to exercise, start small with a walk around the block and notice how much better you feel after a little fresh air. Taking a walk with your spouse is also a nice way to spend some quality time together without spending any money.
If you’re up for something more intense, don’t feel like you have to rush into a gym membership. Find something that you love and want to stick with. Whether you choose to take up hiking, join a sports league, or sign up for a yoga class, you’ll feel the results in your mind and body in no time.
3. Write It Down
Journaling is a very powerful way to check in with yourself and can be a great habit to adopt in your pursuit of mental hygiene. Try keeping a journal and see how it feels to let your mind wander onto the page. Journaling isn’t always about spilling your deepest darkest secrets — even recounting your day or musing on the mundane is a good exercise for your mind. If you’re experiencing high levels of conflict in your relationship, journaling about your relationship goals and commitments to improvement is an effective tool to help.
If journaling isn’t your style, you might still find it helpful to write in other ways. Try writing a letter to your spouse or a close friend. Written correspondence is a deeply personal way of bonding and improving your relationship.
4. Spend Time in Nature
Cities and suburbs have a way of making us feel disconnected, and spending time in the great outdoors is like hitting the reset button.
Time and time again, studies have found that spending quality time in nature is hugely beneficial to your mental health. Try to incorporate something outdoors into your mental hygiene regimen.
Find a trail, go for a picnic, or simply lay in the grass and cloud gaze. Better yet, commit to taking a romantic weekend in the outdoors with your lover. You’ll feel connected to each other and to nature.
5. Unplug Regularly
Computers, TVs, phones, and tablets eat up untold hours of each day and can be extremely damaging to both mental and physical health.
Limiting screen time can be hugely beneficial. Set up screen time limits in your household and make a point of spending time together without devices.
Consider instituting a “digital sabbath” one day a week where you totally unplug from the digital world. It might be hard at first, but you’ll soon start to look forward to going offline.
6. Spend Time with Loved Ones
Never underestimate the power of a coffee date with a friend. Humans are social creatures, and maintaining your social life is an indispensable part of mental hygiene. If you’re having trouble finding joy in your relationship, socializing with your mutual friends can offer a refreshing alternative to sitting at home with each other.
Make plans to see your friends and family throughout the week, even if it’s just a quick lunch. You and your spouse should also make sure you’re making time to hang out throughout the week. Spending time with the ones you love is an existential necessity and is vital to your mental health.
7. Find a Hobby
Hobbies are a great way to keep your mind occupied with something productive and can connect you to new people who share your interests. Hobbies are an important part of finding personal fulfillment, as well as maintaining a sense of independence.
Whether it’s knitting or rock climbing, incorporating a new hobby into your routine is a great way to stay busy and maintain balance in your life.
Mental hygiene is all about healthy habits and intentionality. When you commit to making positive changes in your life, it has a ripple effect. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, and a healthy mind fosters healthy relationships.
When To Seek Help
It can be hard to heal your marriage if one or both of you is stuck in a cycle of bad mental hygiene and poor mental health. Working these matters out often requires more than simply adopting new habits.
A couples counselor can help you and your partner work together to establish healthier routines. Opening the lines of communication about your needs and concerns when it comes to mental health will help you reclaim your relationship and build a foundation of mutual support.
If you’re ready to take control of your mental health and your marriage, sign up for your judgment-free session with our couples counselors today.