19 May 2021
It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and creating a mentally healthier society starts with you. Here are 10 ways to be kinder to your mind today.
1. Get Enough Sleep. Your brain needs a good night's rest, every night, to recover and function well. You wouldn’t expect your car to run on an empty tank, so don’t expect your mind to do the same.?
2. Eat Right. Our body needs a balanced diet to function properly, and our mind is an extension of that. Be sure that you are eating a well balanced diet, and not partaking in caffeine or alcohol in high quantities. ?
3. Avoid Over Exposure to Information. In today’s world, it is all too easy to constantly bombard your mind with information that it cannot fully process. This constant stream of information is actually contributing to stress and anxiety. Be sure that you are not spending too much time on social media, or consuming too much news, as this can lead to increased stress. It may be helpful to pick a certain time of day to consume news, and to cut yourself off after that time. ?
4. Take A Moment to Breathe. We’re constantly going, going, going. Our minds need little moments of calm here and there to maintain peace. Whether it’s breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or going for a walk in nature, find what brings you peace and take the time to do it a little each day. Even 10 minutes of a relaxing activity can work wonders for your mind and body.?
5. Focus on What You Can Control. A lot of the things that stress us out during our daily lives are things that are completely out of our control. Focusing too much on things out of your control can leave you feeling anxious and helpless. Instead, focus on what you can control, and forgive yourself for what you cannot. One thing you can always control is the way you interact with others. So do something kind for someone else today.?
6. Accomplish Something. One sure way to feel as if you have control over your circumstances is to directly affect your circumstances. The best way to do this is by accomplishing tasks. Even small things can give your brain a well deserved hit of dopamine. Set reasonable goals for the day, and accomplish as many of those tasks as you reasonably can, and make sure you let yourself have a moment to take pride in your accomplishments.?
7. Stay Present. Very rarely are our minds in the moment. Instead, we are dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future. Where are you right now? What can you do right now to improve your life and the lives of those around you? It might be something as simple as just turning to a loved one and saying “I appreciate you” or “I’m glad you’re here”. Be grateful for what you have now, and enjoy this moment, because it will only happen once.?
8. Be Mindful. It’s important to be aware of what thoughts you are allowing to take up space in your head. Sometimes it’s easy to slip into negative patterns of thinking and catastrophize everything. If you catch yourself having a negative thought, take a moment to analyze where that thought is coming from. Find ways to reframe these thoughts. For example, a thought like “what if I fail” can be changed to “what if I succeed”, and you’ll find that your outlook on life can change in an instant.?
9. Talk to Yourself Like You Would a Friend. We can often be our own harshest critics. The things you say to yourself are vastly different from what we would say to a friend. Give yourself the same grace you would offer a friend. When you make a mistake, be kind to yourself, and give yourself the advice you would give a friend in those moments. Be happy for yourself and your accomplishments, in the same way you would be for a friend. Practice empathy on yourself.?
10. Reach Out. Sometimes when we are not feeling our best, it’s tempting to isolate until we are feeling better. While it can be healthy to take time for yourself and reflect, make sure that you do not isolate yourself from those who care about you. It’s okay to ask for help. Even if you don’t know what you need in a given moment, sometimes it helps to just know that you aren’t alone. So reach out to a friend or a loved one, and let them know that you need a friend. Or if you have the ability, get in touch with a therapist or health professional you trust to discuss what you are feeling. ?