From an early age, we as a society are taught to take care of ourselves physically by sleeping well, eating right and getting adequate amounts of exercise. In the process, though, mental health is brushed aside and virtually ignored — and it’s a problem.
On TikTok, clinical psychologist Janine Kreft, Psy.D., is doing everything in her power to change the narrative. In one of her recent viral videos, she explained to her 616,000 followers the importance of adequate mental health hygiene and highlighted the disparities between how we handle our physical health versus our mental health.
“One of the reasons we have so many mental health issues in our society is that mental health hygiene isn’t normalized,” she explained. “We grow up learning about physical hygiene: Brushing our teeth, taking showers […] so in that sense, we take preventative measures to take care of our physical bodies. So why are we not doing that for our mental health?”
So what exactly is “mental health hygiene”? Speaking to In The Know, Kreft explained that mental health hygiene is “practicing tools preventatively in order to maintain mental wellness and help increase resilience.” Examples of such tools are breathwork, tapping, journaling, meditating and dancing or shaking it out — Kreft’s personal favorite.
According to Kreft, another way to have good mental health hygiene is by getting out in nature more. In fact, one 2020 review published in Frontiers in Psychology found that as little as 10 minutes of sitting or walking in nature can positively impact mental well-being.
Though it’s easy to brush Kreft’s advice aside and continue to only focus on your physical health, she warns that “mental health hygiene is almost more important than physical hygiene.” Not only that, but your mental health can have an impact on your physical well-being.
“The mind and body has a really complex connection that I think we’re still even learning about,” she explained. “So, when one is off, it affects the other. If we have unresolved trauma, or really a negative thought process, that can create chronic medical issues. […] So truly, the mind is very powerful.”
If you found this story insightful, check out this TikTok psychologist’s tips for managing panic attacks.
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