You may have heard the phrase ‘take care of your mental health’ but are curious to know how. Here are five tips to help you cultivate a more peaceful environment in your mind.
1. Count your blessings
Humans tend to focus on negativity as a survival mechanism in the event of danger. Scientists refer to this phenomenon as a negativity bias. The truth is that it takes work to be able to see the blessings of life. It is helpful to pay attention to what leadership trainer/Sufi Shiekh, Etsko Schietma, refers to as ‘the ocean of blessings’ in our lives. One way to do this is to start a gratitude journal. The good news is that there is always something to be grateful for in everyday life. If you can read this article, you can read and write. You also have access to the internet and the gift of time to discover and engage with this article. Perhaps you showered this morning or had delicious coffee before starting your day. The point here is to stop taking beautiful life offerings for granted. Counting blessings is helpful because the negativity bias takes over in the absence of gratitude.
2. Savouring the moment
When brewing your morning cup of coffee, pay attention to the texture of the coffee beans in your hands or the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Focus on tasting coffee rather than drinking coffee. Don’t like coffee? No problem! Play a song that you enjoy. Focus on the sensations that arise in your body that arise from listening to music. Do you feel joy? Perhaps sadness? Do you feel like dancing? Give yourself permission to feel and do as you please at the moment. Living life in the present is possible through everyday activities. You can savour your life by savouring seemingly mundane moments.
Aside from taking care of heart health, studies show that exercise lowers depression and anxiety. Try to find a sport that brings you joy to reap the benefits of working out in the long run. The term ‘working out’ doesn’t only entail pushing heavy weights in the gym. Lifting weights can be exciting or dreadful, depending on whom you ask! The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to the gym that you can consider. Maybe you prefer to take a long walk? A quick run? A swim? A game of tennis? Find what works for you and your body. And remember to rest your body regularly to reduce the risk of injury so that you can continue exercising in the long run.
4. Take up a hobby
In your free time, a hobby can take up your mental real estate instead of worrying. Hobbies don’t have to be ‘productive’ or a ‘side hustle’; they should be intrinsically joyful. As a kid, video games were my hobby. In my late teen years, I ditched this hobby because I started to believe the message that video games were a waste of time. In truth, I just invested that time lounging around and flipping through tv shows that failed to capture my attention in the same way. The idea here is to find something active to do. Passive activities like watching tv leave room for rumination. Playing video games, on the other hand, consumes my attention entirely. Find whatever works for you without judgment.
5. Spending time with friends
Friendship is a beautiful gift of life. It’s easy to forget this when our life routines center around going to work, exercising, and returning home for dinner. Yet no matter how successful our professional lives may be, few things compare to the joyous belly laughter that sitting with friends can induce. In friendship, we can drop the roles thrust upon us as boss, employee, parent, or child and live freely for a while. When life inevitably brings challenges, friendships serve as empathetic ears to make things easier to navigate through difficult times. Having regular quality time with friends helps to stay mentally healthy. I hope these tips serve you in taking care of your mental health. Please refer to this list as often as you need.