With everything negative going on in the world, it can be a challenge trying to stay positive. It can be hard to prioritize your emotional wellness, and your mood can affect everything from relationships, work, and self-care. You may think it is an impossible task, but there are habits you can implement that can get you there. According to experts, here are the most common happiness tips some therapists recommend.
- Conquer one anxiety
Select an anxiety that is holding you back. Treat that fear as though it is an enemy. For instance, if you have been worried about signing up for a half-marathon, but you’re afraid of rejection, or you are afraid of having a difficult conversation with a toxic friend or family member, so you have been putting it off. Set the goal and pick a reward you will get when you complete it. It is helpful to remember that there is happiness on the other side of our guarded doorways by our anxieties.
- Figure out a sleep schedule that will work for you
Take a good look at your schedule. Try to maintain the same bedtime every night. Get a consistent good night’s sleep; losing an hour or two consistently can have a significant impact on your well-being. If you are constantly depriving yourself of less than 8 hours of sleep, you should try to give yourself a reasonable bedtime. Start by going to bed half an hour earlier than your regular bedtime and stick to it. Evaluate the new habit every day by writing down your progress. This can also help improve your memory, reduce anxiety, and could potentially prevent chronic illnesses.
- Prioritize a self-care act that works for you
Trying to balance workloads and responsibilities with activities that bring a sense of enjoyment can be difficult. Experts suggest starting each day with five minutes of mindfulness meditation, going to therapy to unravel a pattern, getting a personal trainer, or making time to read. The main goal is to prioritize something that makes you happy.
- Spend 10 minutes a day outside
Spend a few minutes in the morning outside, go for a walk on your lunch break, or sit outside to watch the birds. It doesn’t have to be for an extended period of time. The goal is to spend less time cooped up indoors. Michael Brodsky, a psychiatrist, says, “research from multiple countries have shown that spending time in green spaces can lift your mood and relieve anxiety in as little as 10 minutes.”
- Practice a simple mindfulness exercise
Most people worry too much about the future and not about the here-and-now. Being present in the now can increase the sense of well-being, promote vitality, heighten awareness, help train attention, improve the quality of work, and enhance interpersonal relationships. Here’s how you can do that: Spend five minutes of each day noticing your surroundings and how you feel. Name five things you see, four things you can physically feel, three different sounds you hear, two things you smell, and one thing you taste. It doesn’t have to be close to you. Then take a second to label your feelings at that moment (“I’m frustrated, I’m bored, or I’m excited”). This is known as grounding exercises.
- Say nice things about yourself
Instead of always focusing on the negative, try your dialogue in only positive outcomes. For example: instead of saying, “If I get the job,” try “When I get the job.” Subtle changes in using positive language can help change your mindset to a glass half full instead of a glass half empty. You can also increase those positive thoughts by stating one thing you like about yourself when you look in the mirror.
- Give up or cut back on a unhealthy habit
We know the things that are bad for us that can cause stress. Reduce those things by giving up those unhealthy habits entirely. Getting things like consuming a lot of alcohol or caffeine in check can also help reduce stress levels.
- Find a physical activity you love
Exercise plays a significant role in mental health, and just 30 minutes a day can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels. Finding something you enjoy can help excite you to exercise instead of dreading it. Things like Pilates, martial arts, spinning, running, dancing, or lifting weights are all good exercises.
- Try Meditating
Yes, we are telling you to jump on the bandwagon with this one. Meditation can have long-term positive effects. Just like exercising, only allowing 30 minutes a day can help improve levels of stress, high cortisol, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, mental clarity and focus, improvement of memory, and an overall higher level of mental performance.
- Stop your negative thoughts in their tracks
Thoughts are not always reality. A neuropsychologist by the name of Judy Ho suggests asking yourself a simple question when you start beating yourself up: “Does this completely and accurately capture what’s going on?” Try the “yes, but” or “labeling” methods. For example: (“yes, but”) “I did eat three cupcakes while trying to cut down on sugar, but I have been doing a great job with healthy eating and can start fresh tomorrow.” (“labeling”) acknowledge that the thought you are having is toxic.
- Invest in a quality relationship
According to clinical psychologist Kevin Gilliland ask yourself, “Who knows you better than anyone, and whom do you know better than anyone? Have you invested in that relationship by staying in touch? When was the last time you got together?” Pick someone close to you and plan on spending quality time together. Sometimes we give our best in places that are not necessarily good for our mental health. Meaningful relationships are good for our psychological and physical health.
- Read self-development books
Find a book written by someone you admire about how they dealt with the struggles in their lives and mental health. There are ways to learn about your mental health from how others have dealt with the struggles of their mental health.
- Cut back on social media use
Viewing people’s highlight reels on social media can lead to feelings of inadequacy in our own lives. Being on social media too much is linked to poor mental health. Cutting back makes you feel less pressured to chase likes.
- Set better boundaries
Some people find themselves feeling very overwhelmed every year. Setting boundaries for things you do not want to do is essential. If you find yourself thinking about plans you have, and you simply do not want to go, then don’t go! Think of this: Is it something you think you “should/have” to do? If so, why?
- Make a progress list each week
Expecting yourself to be perfect will guarantee you will feel like a failure part of the time and can lead to some anxiety. Remind yourself “progress, not perfection,” or you will continuously feel let down if you are trying to always be perfect. No one is perfect. Try writing down incremental improvements you made each week. Small successes will eventually lead to big ones.
- Allow yourself to be sad
Emotions are necessary for our well-being. You are not going to always be happy. We experience a range of emotions for a reason, so stop chasing happiness. Embrace the times when you feel disappointed, angry, or sad instead of trying to brush them off.
- Get a therapist if you’re able to do it
Mental health works in the same way that physical health does. If you are trying to lose weight or stay in shape and do not know where to start, you may turn to a coach or personal trainer. It is the same for mental health. There are many benefits to seeing a therapist, and there are affordable options like attending group therapy at a local mental health center, seek free options in your community, opt for a sliding-scale psychologist, find a provider through your health insurance, or try an app like Talkspace.
- Write in a gratitude journal
Instead of allowing your brain to go to a place of anxiety and stress, remember grateful thoughts and write them down. When you wake up, think of what you are grateful for.
- Turn your phone off
Becoming less available via text and email will help you feel less emotionally tethered to your phone. Opt for scree-free activities that help disconnect from specific social and work stressors.
- Reduce food shame and stress through mindful eating
Stress hormones begin to fire when we feel nervous, scared, anxious, or Stress hormones begin to fire when we feel nervous, scared, anxious, or unsure of what to eat or how much. Take a deep breath. Your body knows what it wants and how much is enough. Take the cues your body is giving you when it is full or hungry.
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