We’re fans of the great things you can do to improve your mental health: therapy, deep breathing, delegating to call the cable company to someone else. But there are many small gestures that can also help improve your mental health. Each of these 18 (and ½) little moves could have a big impact on your well-being and help relieve anxiety, keep you connected, release frustration and improve your resilience.
01. Pay attention
Anxiety is about the future (will I meet that deadline?) and the past (did I miss that meeting?). To ground himself in the present, former monk Jay Shetty, author of Think like a monk, recommends that you mentally note the following when your mind begins to race:
Research has shown that when you’re going through something awesome, your own issues often seem less important. These Instagram accounts hit that.
@babaktafreshi, a National geographic photographer who captures all the patterns and drama of the night sky.
@chrisburkard, a photographer who visits incredible places that remind you of the power of nature.
03. Go outside
A 90-minute walk in nature, if you’re a city dweller, has been shown to reduce rumination, or repetitive negative thoughts. The OS Maps app, which helps you plan hikes and walks, has a ‘green spaces’ feature that identifies nearby parks, nature reserves and public gardens wherever you are in the UK.
04. Limit your news time
Scan the headlines in the morning, but don’t spend your day refreshing. In a study of International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, when students watched the news for just 15 minutes, it increased anxiety and mood swings, unless immediately followed by a short relaxation exercise.
05. Troubleshooting Pre-troubleshooting
It is not worrying; it’s strategy. If you prepare for difficulties and think about how to handle them, problems are less likely to get you down, says Dr. Emily Balcetis, associate professor of psychology at New York University. Athletes do it – they train to know how they will recover if they miss a pass or drive a golf ball into the rough.
06. Use the 10-10-10 rule
When you’re in a whirlwind of anxiety about a decision you need to make, Suzy Welch, author of the book 10-10-10, recommends that you ask yourself about the consequences of your decision in:
- 10 minutes
- 10 months
- 10 years
It can keep your emotions at the time from deciding your decision and can clarify your priorities, allowing you to commit and move on.
07. Check your mental reading list
“What are the top five feelings on your emotional playlist?” asks Oren Jay Sofer, a meditation teacher who appears on the Ten Percent Happier app. Are you frustrated, angry, critical? Recognizing how you feel and how often the feelings arise can help you see those emotions for what they are. And it can help you manage them.
08. Listen to people, even when it’s hard
When you’re dealing with someone who’s difficult, tell them, “I hear you,” says Bill Eddy, co-founder of the High Conflict Institute. You don’t have to say they’re right, but you should sincerely acknowledge their frustration, even if that’s the opposite of what you want to do. Showing that you are listening can help calm the situation.
09. Be less predictable
A small change in your daily habits can lead to a happier life, suggests a study in Natural neuroscience. Novelty causes the release of dopamine, which makes you feel good. Go small: Try rethinking your morning routine or taking a different route on your lunch break.
ten. Book for a treatment
Not only will it work through those office aches, but a 15-minute back massage is enough to release the “bonding” or “hugging” hormone, oxytocin, according to a study of 95 people by the center. medical school from the University of California, San Diego.
11. Launch your game
Behavior coach Mari Verano recommends collaborative rather than competitive games to develop communication skills and camaraderie. Try the Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 board game – if the theme isn’t too close to home.
12. Diversify your listening habits
“Listening to the voices of people from other walks of life allows [you] an important opportunity to better understand their experience,” says psychotherapist Babita Spinelli. It sparks greater empathy, which helps you move into a more shared experience, understanding others and yourself in a new way. If you’re used to listening to the same five podcasts, try mixing things up by downloading a few that wouldn’t normally be part of your regular rotation; stories from people of other races, genders, or simply people with very different life experiences than yours can be revealing.
13. Give a little (or a lot)
It’s well documented that doing good things for others can make you feel good about yourself. “It can relieve anxiety, depression, and pain,” says Dr. Leela Magavi of Community Psychiatry in California. Here are some ways to make a difference – it won’t cost you anything:
Take a day off
Some companies offer an additional discretionary day off for employees who wish to work for charitable causes. If yours does, take advantage of it. If not, suggest it.
Then visit must.life/grow
This is an online database of volunteer opportunities, which you can search by interest or location. Ncvo.org.uk/ncvo-volunteering can help you find the nearest volunteering centre.
Or use easyfundraising.org.uk
Easy Fundraising donates to a charity of your choice in exchange for using its links while you shop online. Smile.amazon.co.uk works the same way. They’re both free, too.
15. Sleep less – for a while
If you’re having trouble closing your eyes, reset your system by reducing your sleep window to between five and a half and seven hours a night, suggests psychotherapist Annie Miller. This will help get your sleep drive working once more. As you begin to fall asleep more easily, gradually increase your time in bed. (But if it’s bedtime and you’re not feeling tired, don’t try to sleep.)
16. Be a dreamer
If you can’t get back to sleep in the middle of the night, try remembering a dream, suggests Dr. Rubin Naiman of the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Remembering a dream helps you to let go of the waking state or “daytime consciousness”. According to Dr. Naiman, “The memory of a dream will take you into dream consciousness, and then you’ll be on deck to sleep.”
17 (&½). Develop a gentle disposition
Research suggests that the average adult only manages 3.7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. That’s a sorry stat given a 2020 Nutrients A review of studies found that eating more fruits and vegetables (at least five servings a day) can protect against depressive symptoms and boost optimism. Upping that total by a serving and a half — a small kiwi and a large banana — could give your well-being a noticeable boost.
18. tell someone how you really are
Designer Kenneth Cole bets it’s been a while since you told someone how you really are, which is why he and a coalition of mental health organizations have launched howareyoureally.org, an initiative to bring people to talk about mental health. There you can watch testimonials from frontline workers, celebrities and many others discussing mental health, and add your story.
This story originally appeared in the January 2022 issue of Men’s health.
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