Life can be challenging. Sometimes these challenges can feel overwhelming and may even require professional help. However, there’s a world of stress that doesn’t necessarily amount to a mental disorder. A dysfunctional home environment, a complicated relationship, or stressful work conditions are all examples of daily struggles people contend with everyday. Over time, these situations can promote feelings of anger, sadness, or anxiety that can complicate other areas of life. In these cases, it’s important to recognize the need to help yourself and look for ways to feel better. Little changes can go a long way toward improving the quality of your life, feeling better emotionally, and can improve mental health.
The best treatment for anxiety, depression, and other stressors, can sometimes be changing some of your behaviors. If you’re struggling with negative feelings, unhealthy habits, or something else that is adversely effecting you — some of these changes might help.
1. Promote Your Physical Happiness
Regular exercise, healthy eating, and lots of sleep does a body good. These ways to feel better aren’t new. However, it is surprising how many people still overlook these very simple habits that have so much potential benefit. The hustle and bustle of daily life can lead to cutting corners. Buying junk food instead of cooking. Being too busy for the gym, but not too busy for Netflix. Eating something that ends up reducing the quality of your sleep. These little things add up.
Another benefit of doing the right things for your body is the promotion of feel good chemicals the body naturally produces. Exercise raises endorphin levels. Healthy eating can help resolve digestive issues. Sleeping well helps the body re-balance itself and fight off disease. Even three days of consistency in those three areas can make a world of difference. Feeling less than your best, is definitely a cause for stress.
2. Promote Mental Clarity
There’s nothing wrong with having an occasional drink, but if happy hour has become your go to method for relaxation, it might be time for a change. Coffee, recreational drugs, and alcohol are all chemicals that alter the state of mind. Yet many adults, and sometimes even teenagers, build habits around supporting their regular use. This leads to a sense of loss with these habits are interrupted. Someone who just isn’t themselves without their morning coffee, should probably reconsider their need for the caffeine.
Now obviously, for some, this is easier said than done. However, similar to taking care of your body to feel better, cutting off chemical dependencies also has its own benefits. It’s mental clarity. For some, this might appear to be of no consequence. However, if you’re struggling with other issues that are bringing you down, finding mental clarity can be an important step to turning things around and improve mental health. Caffeine, for instance, could just be masking the fatigue from chronic sleep deprivation.
3. Engage in Stress Relieving Activity
Have you ever looked forward to going home after a long day, just to finally be done with it all? Relax on the couch. Get some food. Enjoy a long hot bath. Have some you time.
Another way to improve mental health is to be intentional about planning out those moments of “you” time. Find times in the day that you can claim for yourself, and plug into things that you really enjoy or find relaxing. Take a walk in the woods. Play a recreational sport after school or work. Take a nap during lunch (but don’t over sleep!). Doing something you’re interested in is a great way to create bookmarks in the day for activities you’re looking forward to. It also stimulates the reward centers of your brain, when you clearly define your moments of break time from everything else.
4. Get Outside of Yourself
The people we keep in our lives also play a major role in how we feel about ourselves. Toxic people bring us down, and positive people build us up. It’s not rocket science. However, somtimes when we’re less than our best, we push away people who support our well being. This neglect can also come in the form of keeping people around, who really need to get lost.
If you’re looking to build up a healthier sense of self, another key habit would be focusing on activities that extend beyond yourself. Spend time with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Volunteer, or do something nice for someone else. That’s one of the easiest ways to feel better about yourself and improve mental health.
Another valuable practice; engage in something metaphysical. Delving into your spiritual self, whatever that means for you, can be immensely valuable. The human experience is temporal. Taking some time out of the day to think about what you’re thinking about, may actually provide some peace and clarity. Then, stop thinking about yourself. Try being your best self for other people who will value your presence and contributions to their lives. You might just surprise yourself with how much tending to others can actually make you feel better.
5. Reward Yourself For Consistency
Celebrate the small victories. If you regularly struggle with anxiety, anger, or some other unhealthy behavior that effects your mental well being, periods of change should be acknowledged. Nothing changes overnight, but things can and do change. If you are taking steps to actively improve mental health and you’re finding success, take pride in that.
Behaviors, both good and bad, can be habit forming. This means, negative cycles persist in part due to familiar moods and circumstances. In order to break this, most habitual behaviors have to be replaced by another behavior in order to be phased out. If you’ve managed to string together a few days (maybe even just a day) of positivity, treat yourself! It can typically take anywhere from 18 days to 66 days to build a new habit. The first step is getting used to the change. The second is finding ways to stick with it.
Hopefully some of these suggestions can help you tackle some of your daily stressors. If your issues are a bit more severe and you think you need professional help, we can help you find a good therapist near you. You can also contact me directly, by dropping me a line.
Do you have any habits or strategies that help you, that I didn’t mention? Feel free to share below, you might be able to help somebody else!