· By PYM STORE
What is mental hygiene and how do I kickstart my routine?
PYM is on a mission to normalize the mental health practice, mental hygiene - a daily routine for optimal mental well-being.
Since we were children, we were taught physical hygiene.
“Brush your teeth twice a day.”
“Wash your hands.”
Those things are essential to your own personal cleanliness and safety, but they are also crucial to the cleanliness and safety of others, too.
However, there’s another kind of hygiene that is arguably even more important in some ways than physical hygiene and other health topics. And that’s mental hygiene.
What is mental hygiene?
Though the concept of mental hygiene may be new to your vernacular, it’s been around for quite some time. In fact, it dates back to the mid-1800s. The founder of the American Psychiatric Association, Isaac Ray, created the first known definition of mental hygiene.
He deemed mental hygiene “the art of preserving the mind against all incidents and influences calculated to deteriorate its qualities, impair its energies, or derange its movements. The management of the bodily power in regard to exercise, rest, food, clothing and climate, the laws of breeding, the government of the passions, the sympathy with current emotions and opinions, the discipline of the intellect – all these come within the province of mental hygiene.”
That’s essentially a long-winded way of saying that mental hygiene is taking care of your mind in a way that keeps it sharp and functioning at its best.
Now, anyone who has experienced a bad day (haven’t we all?) or felt anxiety at some point in their life knows that the idea of keeping your mind sharp and at peak performance is easier said than done. Some of us only experience the struggle of mental disturbances once in a while, while others find the concept of prioritizing mental hygiene a massive challenge on the daily.
No matter where you sit on the spectrum of mental health challenges, it’s important to develop healthy habits that keep your mind in tip-top shape.
"Mental hygiene is key to achieving an optimal mood. Take the time to establish your personalized routine to achieve a state of positive mental health."
- Dr. Raghu Appasani, MD
What does it mean to achieve healthy mental hygiene?
The goal of practicing mental hygiene is to prepare your mind and central nervous system for those inevitable stressful moments. It can start with self awareness and becoming more aware of how you feel so you can begin incorporating daily rituals to help any possible mental health condition you may be dealing with.
It's setting up your mind can work with you instead of against you. And getting your mental hygiene to a good place doesn’t have to be a scary or daunting thing. It can actually be quite fun and easy!
How to kickstart a healthy mental hygiene routine
There is a variety of different actions and activities you can incorporate into your life in order to improve your mental hygiene. The key is finding the ones that work best for you.
It’s important to know that, just like a morning routine, your mental hygiene routine does not need to look exactly the same as everyone else’s.
Below we share our expert-approved mental hygiene-boosting activities and practices, but it’s up to you to pick which ones resonate the best with you – which ones feel like you’ll actually make them part of your routine out of joy, rather than simply because someone else is doing them.
Some of these are best in the morning as a way to start your day off on the right foot, while others may be better for the afternoon or evening. Follow whatever feels right for you.
Here are some PYM-approved mental hygiene thought starters that you can write down to help get the ball rolling on your new routine:
- What are my current health habits?
- What is a habit I want to add to my daily routine?
- Who are the people that support me?
- What/where is my happy place?
- What am I grateful for?
- What is a song that gives me an instant mood boost?
- What is my daily mantra?
If you haven’t hopped on the meditation train yet, there’s no better time than the present to consider doing so. If meditation feels a bit too “woo-wooy” for you, there’s plenty of science to back up its efficacy.
One study showed that meditation helps to keep the mind from wandering. When the mind wanders, science has shown that it oftentimes results in lower levels of happiness. Meditation helps the mind from wandering as much in the first place. And, in the rare times that that wandering does happen (we are human, after all), regular meditation practice helps to snap the mind back to reality quicker than those who don’t meditate.
Meditation has also been shown to reduce symptoms of both anxiety and depression. On top of that, meditation helps to improve concentration even after just 2 weeks of regular practice.
The benefits of meditation don’t stop there, but we will for now. Trust us when we say that there are only pros and no cons to adding meditation to your mental hygiene routine.
Start with just 5 minutes and work your way up from there. Remember, it is called a “practice” for a reason – it takes time to improve and you’ll have days where it’s more difficult.
If the thought of meditating has you feeling anxious, then we suggest breathwork as a great place to start. Certain breathing techniques helps you focus on one thing: your breath. Breathing practices helps to calm the mind and teach you some of the groundwork that will make meditation easier for you to tackle down the road.
Great research has been done on breathwork that shows its efficacy in helping to:
- Create better stress responses
- Regulate emotions
- Reduce symptoms of stress
- Reduce symptoms of anxiety
- Reduce symptoms of PTSD
- Reduce symptoms of depression
- Reduce symptoms of ADD
- And much more
- Calming a rapid heart rate
Similar to meditation, start small and practice breathwork. Find a guided deep breathing practice such as Wim Hof that is short and sweet and will allow you to feel the results almost immediately. Different types of breathwork can guide you to become more aware in your mind and body helping you to focus more on the present moment.
We likely aren’t the first ones to tell you that exercising is great for your mental health. This, in turn, means that it's great for your mental hygiene.
Study after study proves that exercise reduces anxiety and depression.
The fun thing about exercise is that you get to choose which form is most enjoyable for you, and that’s the one that’s best for your mental hygiene.
If you hate running, then why would you choose that form of exercise to improve your mental health? You’ll start your run off in a negative headspace and that defeats the purpose of the whole concept of improving mental hygiene.
If you prefer a physical activity that is slower and low-intensity, then yoga is a great one to boost your mental hygiene.
Just because someone else finds that CrossFit brings them joy, doesn’t mean it has to bring joy to you. Listen to yourself when choosing the exercise that’s best for you, and allow that to change from day to day.
Another great tool to have in your mental hygiene routine is the right supplements to boost your brain health.
We’ve made it easier for you to get the supplements you need to improve your mental hygiene by creating our own that are scientifically proven to aid in positive mental health. You can get what you need all in one place.
We’ve shared before that B vitamins are essential to brain health and mood. Now, you don’t want to get just any B vitamins. We’ve taken special care and research to create a B-complex vitamin that promotes the bioavailability of nutrients that help to put you in a good mood. Our Mood B vitamins were developed by doctors and nutritionists to help balance your mood over time.
These are best taken in the morning with breakfast.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to good mental hygiene. They are shown to support mood health, emotional wellbeing, and focus, while also reducing inflammation. Our Mood Omegas will help to reduce brain fog and improve your cognitive function. We sourced these gems from deep sea, cold water fish in Chile and the citrus taste leaves you free of any fishy aftertaste.
These are best taken with a full meal before bed.
Known as the “chill pill,” magnesium is one of the nutrients people tend to be most deficient in. And magnesium does wonders for mental hygiene. It improves your sleep, helps reduce stress, and plays an important role in neurotransmitter synthesis.
Our Mood Magnesium powder is a blend of amino acids, magnesium, and vitamin B6 in a delicious yuzu flavor that makes it easy and tasty to drink.
This is best consumed at night 1-2 hours before bed if you need help falling asleep, but you may find you enjoy it throughout the day as well.
More and more science continues to emerge showing the direct link between your gut health and your brain health.
That’s why, if you’re looking to improve your mental hygiene, you should look to probiotics. And we aren’t talking just any probiotics – they are not created equally. Our Mood Biotics are made of a psychobiotic blend of the 6 key strains of probiotics that are scientifically shown to:
- Help create neurotransmitters that support the gut-brain connection
- Support emotional cognition
- Support the body’s stress response
- Support serotonin creation
Those 6 strains are:
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bifidobacterium infantis
- Lactobacillus helveticus
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
These are best consumed in the morning on an empty stomach.
Our fan-favorite Mood Chews are popular because people love how they make them feel. Your mental hygiene will thank you for incorporating these into your life.
PYM Mood Chews are made with amino acids and adaptogens to target your inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA, to manage stress including:
Sometimes no matter how much you meditate, breathe, exercise, and stay on top of your PYM supplement regimen, you may find that you have days where your mental hygiene just doesn’t feel its best.
And that’s okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re having an off day. Remember, you’re still human and perfection isn’t the goal. The goal is to have more good days than bad.
When those bad days hit, you may want to lean into your mental hygiene routine a little harder. Maybe meditate longer. Try a new style of breathwork. Enjoy some more Mood Chews.
And, most importantly, know that you’re doing the best you can and that’s all you can ask for.
Mental hygiene is an often-overlooked practice that is arguably more important than physical hygiene. Prevention of mental health problems starts with paying attention to your physical health and mood health.
A mental hygiene routine or ritual is a great way to ensure that you’re maximizing your mental health in the way that works best for you. PYM recommends kickstarting a mental hygiene routine with nutrition that targets the different types of neurotransmitters.
Every human mind varies, so everyone's ideal mental hygiene routine should look different. There is scientific evidence to support being specific with how you set up your mental hygiene routine for your mental wellbeing. Write it down, dedicate specific sets of time to your routine, and it's okay to change it up as you go!
*If you, a friend or family member are struggling with mental health or mental illness conditions, please consult with a medical professional. For immediate support, call 988. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress.