This article is from bayart and I’m using it as a frame for this post. Italic part is from the article.
This article says that the World Health Organization says 350 million people suffer from depression. The following are some things that various studies say we can do to help improve our mental health and well being.
- Make your bed every day.
I do this because it drives me crazy if I don’t. I’m one of those people when I take a nap on my bed, I don’t get under the covers. I use a blanket. Weird I know, but it’s how I roll.
- Value yourself.
Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language. Okay, this I do. Well there are things I do every day. Working out is one even if I have to drag myself there (which isn’t too often) and I do an online jigsaw puzzle every day – except on Wednesdays…I really hate the way they cut the parts. But it’s just a moment or two of central focus.
- Feeling stressed? Smile.
It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down. I’m not the biggest casual smiler. I do it when I’m working. Sometimes the students need to see a nice smile. But if I’m on my own, I feel like I have perma-frown face.
- Give yourself.
Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it’s a great way to meet new people. I volunteered at the Spartan race this weekend at Fenway Park and I had such an amazing time meeting people and seeing all sorts of athletes. I totally think this changed a small part of me.
- Pick up a hobby to make you feel good.
Not a hobby that will look good on your college apps or your résumé. Not something you’re eh about but that you think will make you a more well-rounded person. Literally, just something you find fulfilling or relaxing or cool. Going to the gym sort of counts in that manner. I like to read. I like to do this blog. Not sure if any of those count as hobbies to make you feel good.
- Take 30 minutes to go for a walk in nature –
it could be a stroll through a park, or a hike in the woods. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being. I’m sure this is true.
- Try meditation.
I am not big on meditation. But if it works for you….then by all means.
- Practice gratitude.
Life’s so much better when you’re acknowledging the bright side. Research suggests that expressing what you’re thankful for — from your dog to your favorite song on the radio — will improve your mental well-being.
- Put a small memory in a jar every day.
writing down the amazing things that happen to you when they happen works as a great gratitude exercise day to day. This is funny (a good funny) because a memory jar is a gift I’m giving someone for Christmas. Maybe I should do one for myself.
- Say “no” more — without explaining yourself.
One of two things inevitably happen when you say “yes” to things you don’t want to do — either you do them at the expense of your own happiness or you make excuses and flake later at the expense of your relationships. Don’t do that. Be gracious and polite, sure, but look out for yourself. “No” is a complete sentence.
- Complain less.
Not only does it make you an unpleasant person to be around in general, but also complaining = ruminating in negative thoughts. And ruminating in negative thoughts takes a big toll on your mental health in the long run. Don’t hold stuff in, by any means, but make an effort to express those negative thoughts once and move on. I’m not sure if I’m a complainer. I mean that I’m not sure if I’m an obnoxious, overbearing kind of complainer. I have no doubt that I make them. I know I have negative thoughts, but they are usually in conjunction with myself.
- Treat emotional pain like physical pain.
If you need a mental health day, take one. If you find getting out of bed getting more and more difficult, go to the doctor. Don’t brush something off because it’s not an obvious injury. I believe in mental health days. I work with children. Sometimes a week can seem like a month and I need a day for me.
- Experiment with a new recipe, write a poem, paint or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked. I LOVE Pinterest. I have done several new recipes from there recently.
- Break up the monotony.
Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant. I like to have a routine, but I understand the perks of breaking up the monotony. I sometimes call it stepping out of my comfort zone. Doing races alone is a big one for me.
- Write in a journal.
Putting pen to paper can be a liberating and cathartic experience. Try keeping a journal or even just writing your anxieties and tossing them in the trash. A 2012 study found that writing what’s stressing you out and then physically throwing it away may help clear your mind. While I keep this blog and am some what exposed with it by letting others read what I’m thinking. I am considering keeping a personal journal. One where I am doing actual pen and paper.
- Spend more alone time with yourself.
Carve out time once a week or month to date yourself. Take yourself out to dinner and a movie or go exploring around your city. Learn to be comfortable spending time alone. Learn to love your own company. It’s funny. I just did two races alone and I was okay with it. One race someone joked that I couldn’t find anyone to do it with. Truth was a little evident in it, but I’m okay with doing things alone.
- Start every day by reminding yourself of one positive thing about your life.
We tend to hold on to negative thoughts a lot stronger than positive ones, so expressing gratitude before you get out of bed in the morning is a small, effective way to get on the right path and to connect with happier thoughts. This is a short coming of mine. Maybe if I start using a journal again, I can try to write one positive thing each day even if the rest of the post has negative overtones.
- Take time to laugh.
Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out cute videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety. I’m a big proponent of this. For me; it’s dancing in the kitchen with my children while we play really cheesy songs.
- Celebrate little victories more often.
There’s nothing wrong with setting big goals for yourself this time of year — but achieving little goals is just as important, so celebrate those, too. I set goals for myself gym wise and right now I don’t have anything on the horizon. So this is a chance for me to set little goals, like getting my squat form right.
- Dance around while you do your housework.
Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel-good” chemicals). Even for my husband, housework is not done in our home without music playing. Though my choices totally are better than his!
- Quiet your mind.
Try meditating, Mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy. My mind is rarely quiet. This is a problem. Again, I’m not into meditation and I’m not a religious person. For me, being on the treadmill at the gym, listening to music and just zoning out works.