By Health Coach Nick Deck
We don’t typically think about our mental health as being part of our total well being, but it is! Your mental state of mind affects your physical health and the way your body feels everyday. If you work on keeping yourself happy you can you can avoid things like sickness, stress, and feeling fatigued. Here are 5 easy steps that you can incorporate into your daily life to ensure happy health!
1. Be aware of stressful factors in your life. Stress is unavoidable–whether you are running late for work, or have to get a shot at the doctor’s office, it is normal to feel stressed out. However, you can reduce your stress and learn how to manage your reaction to stressful things. Be aware of the things that stress you out and try to avoid those triggers.
- For example, if sitting in traffic makes you stressed, avoid driving during peak rush hour. If that means getting up early and getting to work early, then find a coffee shop near your office and relax before work.
- Get involved in stress-free activities. If you have noticed that you have a hard time relaxing at night, take up yoga or meditation classes. After work or class, head to your local yoga studio and learn how to focus your breath so that you feel all your tensions unwind.
- Take a few moments each day to release any stresses you have and focus on the here and now. Instead of worrying about something that happened in the past, or planning for the future, take a moment to notice what is going on around you. Literally stop and smell the roses–feel the warm breeze on your face, notice the cloud formations above you, focus solely on the things going on around you.
2. Learn how to understand your emotions. It is important to be aware of what you are feeling. When you are in touch with your emotions, you will be able to both recognize when you are acting out because of your emotions and empathize more thoroughly with others. Knowing yourself is a key part of having good mental health–it’s important to know when something is making you unhappy so that you can either fix it or cut it out of your life. Likewise, it is also good to recognize the things that make you happy. Surrounding yourself with good energy will promote a happier, healthier you.
- Go to a meditation group and learn how to focus your mind on the positive. Speak with a therapist who will help you sort through your emotions. Enroll in an emotional awareness course that teaches you to recognize, accept, and understand your emotions.
- Learn how to cope with emotional pain and, if necessary, deal with emotional abuse. Speak with a therapist or someone you trust. Bottling up your feelings will only make your mental state more cluttered.
3. Strengthen your relationships. Prioritize developing meaningful relationships above simply being social. Surround yourself with people that enrich your life and make you happy. Practice self-disclosure, which means sharing things that are unique to you (your thoughts, fears, favorite movies and music, pet peeves, etc.) with those you trust. This has been shown to be of immense importance to not only forging deeper interpersonal connections, but also feeling validated emotionally.
- Learn how to have a healthy relationship. Be open about what you are feeling, try to understand what others are feeling, and be willing to compromise. If you think you’re in a manipulative or controlling relationship, get out of it. It’s better to stand strong on your own than be held back by a so-called companion.
- Make the time to stay connected to your close friends. This does not just mean posting a Youtube video to their Facebook page every once in awhile. If you live far away from your close friends, take the time to call them once every week. If you live near your best friends, make time each week to stop in and catch up (even if you both have busy work weeks/families etc.) Many studies show that people with a wide range of social contacts get sick less than those who don’t. Friends make you laugh, and laughing is also an important part of health.
4. Pursue your passions. Set some time aside to practice an instrument, do an art project, take photos, build models, weld, bake gourmet cakes, or whatever else enriches your free time. If you want to learn something new, take an evening or weekend class. If you can’t think of anything interesting off the top of your head, take the time to find a hobby.
- If you’re convinced that there isn’t enough time in the day to pursue any outside activities, try to cut back on a time-wasting activity like channel-surfing or hitting refresh on Facebook. You may be surprised by how much time you actually spend in front of a screen when you could be doing other things.
- Join a group or club. Meeting up with people who share a common interest will both get you out of the house and boost your sense of belonging. Join a book club, a sports team, or a walking group. Pick up a community newspaper to find listings of clubs located in your area.
- If you have some spare time, allocate that time to helping others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter. Work in the community garden or simply help a friend in some way.
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