8 Simple Ways to Improve Mental Health
8 Ways to Improve Mental Health
- Seek out awe
Awe can be found in so many places. Awe in nature can be gazing at a sunset, observing animals, or even noticing weeds grow through concrete. Awe can also be found in beautiful architecture, watching a great movie, or listening to music. When we experience awe, we “lose ourselves.” We get “lost” in time and space. This helps to minimize negative thinking and provides a temporary reprieve from any worries of the day.
- Chapter 2 – Get Outside in Nature, in Feeling Good: 35 Proven Ways to Happiness, Even During Tough Times
- Blue Mind by Wallace Nichols
- Forest Bathing by Xing Li
- Have a routine
Having a routine helps to provide structure, a sense of security, and predictability. A routine also helps with productivity. The routine does not have to last all day long. To begin, you can choose to develop a routine upon waking, or a bedtime routine.
- Pay attention to your thoughts/self-talk during the day
For the average person, 80% of thoughts during the day are negative (National Science Foundation, 2005). That’s a lot of negative thinking going on! If left unaddressed, that can steal your joy and be a detriment to your mental health. When you find yourself having a negative thought that is making you feel crummy, it is important to change the thought. It can often be easier if you think about what you would say to your best friend. Then tell that to yourself! I call this “The Best Friend Technique.”
Another method for addressing negative thoughts is to be proactive and keep a “positivity file.” In this file, you can journal about your positive experiences. This could include accomplishments you’re proud of, kind words you receive from others, or how amazing you feel giving to others. Write about the experience in full detail, using all of your senses. Keeping a positivity file not only highlights your positive experiences, but on a difficult day, you can read your entries to experience a boost in mood.
Resources for addressing negative thoughts:
- Chapter 1, Accept That Life is Not Fair, in Feeling Good
- Chapter 19, Don’t Take Things Personally, in Feeling Good
- Chapter 23, Change the Way You View the Things That Bother You, in Feeling Good
- Chapter 27, Develop a Gratitude Mindset, in Feeling Good
- Chapter 31, Maintain Perspective, in Feeling Good
- Feel Better Live More podcast #266 How to Unlock the Power of the Mind
- Byron Katie 4 questions: Is it true, is it absolutely true, how do you behave when you believe that thought, who would you be without the thought
- Develop a sense of purpose/meaning
Your sense of purpose need not be elaborate or on massive scale. In fact, that can lead to pressure and existential anxiety. Instead, keep it simple. Your sense of purpose can be how you give to others and treat others every day.
- 12 Give to Others, in Feeling Good.
- Connect with people every day
The quality of our social relationships is the #1 factor related to happiness. Connect in all kinds of relationships – family, friends, partner, coworkers, acquaintances, and even strangers. There is no such thing as “small talk.” When we use that term, we minimize the interaction. It all matters, including talking about the weather with a complete stranger.
One idea to connect with others is to make a point to reach out to 2 people every day. Reach out to one person you would like to connect with, and reach to someone you think would like to hear from you. You can also use your text messages and scroll to the bottom, and contact someone you have not had contact with in a long time.
- 8 Connect with People, in Feeling Good
- 10 Surround Yourself with People Who Make You Feel Good, in Feeling Good
- Relax – be mindful
We need methods of daily relaxation now more than ever. Do what works for you. This could be yoga, deep breathing, visualization, aromatherapy, crafting, etc. – any method that relaxes the nervous system.
- Ch. 33 Be Still. Be Mindful, in Feeling Good
- Feel Better Live More podcast #288 The Power of Breath to Change Your Life
- Feel Better Live More podcast #268 This Breathing Technique will Transform Your Body and Mind
- Digital detox
Research demonstrates that time spent on social media increases symptoms of depression and anxiety. In addition, time spent on technology often replaces activity that has more of a positive impact on mental health and relationships. If reducing your technology use feels difficulty, it’s not your fault! The platforms are designed to keep people on them. It’s simply your brain functioning normally, but in a way that ultimately does not contribute to mental health. We need to be intentional about our use of technology and social media. It’s not that technology is inherently bad. It’s that its replacing other healthier behaviors.
- How to Break Up with Your Phone: 30 Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price
- Feel Better Live More podcast #276 Transform Your Life with Digital Detox
- The Social Dilemma, Netflix movie
8. Exercise – move your body
Moving your body in some way every day contributes to positive mental health. This could be yoga, stretching, walking, dancing, biking, running – anything you like! Find something that you enjoy. Doing something you enjoy increases the likelihood that you will actually do it!
- 3 Exercise, in Feeling Good
- Feel Better Live More podcast #286 Why Movement Can be Medicine
- Feel Better Live More podcast #271 Why Walking is the Superpower You Didn’t Know You Had
If you’d take a look at the YouTube videos, you can click below!