It can often seem like improving your mental health is massive task, and we are often lost as to where to even start. It can be particularly useful to start small, and make simple improvements to your daily life.
remember that small changes overtime will yield massive results. Here I have compiled some little things you can do to give your mental health a positive boost in these trying times!
Gratitude is the quality of showing appreciation for the things we have surrounding us. It is a good 5 minute exercise to just think about all the things in life that we have and love. You can write them down or just let your mind wander over them.
Practicing gratitude can greatly improve your mood, as well as make you more optimistic. It reminds you about all the good things in your life, pushing the negative thoughts out of your brain.
This can be practiced in the mornings or evenings. You can even do this when you are in a bad mood!
Get in the Habit of Creating a Sleeping Routine
Sleep is a major factor in regulating our mental and emotional well being. While we sleep, research has shown that brain activity in areas that regulate our emotions increases. This supports our mental stability and allows our body to regulate our emotions more effectively during the day.
When someone is sleep deprived, the areas of our brain that are in charge of our emotions are much more likely to overreact. You might have noticed that when you work long hours into the night, that the next day you are much more on edge than usual. It is simply because you did not give your brain the time needed to reset.
When our emotions are regulated at healthier levels, our mental health directly benefits from this! So make sure you get your 7-9 hours of sleep, and try to go to bed at roughly the same hour every day to maximize the benefits your brain gets from sleep!
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
While caffeine definitively has certain cognitive perks, its overuse can put a big strain on our mental well-being. The main issue with caffeine is that it can interfere with our sleep.
As discussed in the last point, sleep is one of the most important aspects in our life that protects our mental stability. If you know that your caffeine drinking habits affect your sleep, I would urge you to decrease your use of it. Especially if you are mental struggle, because it can likely be a contributing factor.
Unlike caffeine, alcohol does not bring along with it cognitive benefits like increased alertness and a higher level of focus. So unless you are partying hard, there is no real reason you should be drinking it.
The main issue with alcohol lies in the fact that it allows us to escape the reality that we live in. We drink and get drunk, which releases a chemical called dopamine. This makes us feel all happy and like everything is alright.
This is particularly dangerous if you are struggling with your mental health. There will be a point where the alcohol wears off, and reality will set back in. This is the point where many people will lose themselves to alcohol and it will start becoming an addiction. Do not fall for this!
Another negative effect of alcohol can be seen when people use it to manage their social anxiety. This prevents them from developing the necessary social coping skills. This can have a major negative impact on your future mental health.
It is therefore a good habit to instead of drinking alcohol or coffee at night to just drink a glass of water. See the next point why hydration is so important for our brain!
Drink More Water
There have been many links to show that dehydration will increase the symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
Dehydration also causes stress on the body, since it is not getting the required amount of water intake. It also will impede your brains serotonin production, which is a neurotransmitter that is absolutely crucial in regulating your mood.
It is even said that a symptom of chronic dehydration can be depression!
Note that drinking a lot of water is not a cure all for any mental health disorder, but it gives our brain and body a better fighting chance against them. So maybe drink a glass of water as you are reading this!
A Quick 10 Minute Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a widely used practice that specifically targets individuals with ill-mental health. Mindfulness training has shown to alter the structure of our brain.
Areas of the brain responsible for positive emotions like the prefrontal cortex see more activity in individuals that practice mindfulness consistently. It is very similar to our first point of practicing gratitude. You become more in-tune with your emotional self.
The effect are a more realistic and optimistic outlook on life, as well bettering your mood!
If you are not a meditation fan, a good alternative is to journal! You can be mindful of yourself and your surroundings, but instead of meditating on those thoughts, you simply write them down.
This is a personal favorite of mine and one I use very often. When you are in a stressful situation, just writing down all the things you can do to solve the issue at hand will give you a massive confidence boost that everything will be alright.
Journaling shouldnt take a long time, maximum of 15 minutes. It can easily be made a habit by just journaling right before you got to bed, or right before you wake up!
This will sooth your nerves and is very calming. It is a great tool that can be used to limit the mental stress we experience on a daily basis.
Celebrate your Achievements
We are often so caught up in all the work we still have left to do, that we forget all that we have achieved. In my personal case, a lot of my stress and anxiety comes from the fact that I haven’t yet achieved in life what I want, and that I struggle to get there.
But I so often forget all the goals that I have already accomplished that have gotten me to where I am today.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed with work or are struggling with your purpose in life, think back to all the great things you have already achieved. You will realize that you have put in a great amount of work and have won many victories in the past. I can assure you that that will continue in the future as well!
Tidy up After Yourself
Living in a clean and tidy environment will give you a massive boost to your mental health. Decluttering your living room and office can have an energising effect and will promote a health mental state of being.
It is often the case with people that they feel more productive when their working environment is neat and tidy. Being more productive will lead you to completing more goals. Having completed more goals will see you succeed in life.
Simply tidying up your environment will see exponential benefits later in life!
Use Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are statements that we make about ourselves that we repeat over and over again. Some common positive affirmations that you can use are:
- I know I can accomplish anything I set my mind to
- I learn from my mistakes
- I am confident socially and enjoy meeting new people
- I believe in, trust and have confidence in myself
- I will figure this out and it will all come together in the end
Using positive affirmations, will actually be able to increase the “feel good” hormones that our brain releases. This will of course have a good effect on our mental state, and will lead to a more positive outlook on life.
They will help strengthen your self-worth and boost your confidence. They are a great way to counter the symptoms of panic attacks, stress, and other forms of anxiety.
Break your Procrastination Habits
The field of psychology often associates procrastination with a decreased mental health. In particular procrastination is known to increase your stress levels as well as induce a lower feeling of well-being.
One really good method to breaking your procrastination habits, is to make use of the 50/10 method. I wrote a bit about this method, which you can read here. I can say from personal experience, that this will skyrocket your productivity!