Mental health is a big deal. The quality of your thoughts and feelings influence every aspect of life. To boost your mood and mental health, do these ten things.
1. Adopt a pet.
Loneliness can destroy your mental health in a hurry.
With lockdowns that never seem to end, we've never been lonelier.
According to research, loneliness can lead to an array of problems including:
-Inability to focus
-Bad nights of sleep
Grim picture, right? On the bright-side, your local animal shelter has a cheap antidote.
Science says dog and cat owners are happier and healthier than the average human.
Any companion -- even a furry, four-legged one -- makes challenges more bearable.
2. Spend time in nature.
I know, I know... winter is coming.
Cold or not, nature has healing properties.
It's easy to get consumed by the problems we face.
In the grand scheme of things, most problems are insignificant.
If you disagree, stand on top of a mountain where you can see many miles away.
Even better, look at the night sky and think about the 100 billion stars within the Milky Way.
You're a tiny speck of the Universe. Your problems are even tinier. The same is true for any living being.
This understanding should bring you a sense of peace. With the right perspective, any obstacle can be conquered.
3. Give yourself a massage.
Self-massage isn't hard.
I do it all the time despite zero training.
My girlfriend says I'm incredible at massages.
She melts into a puddle as the tension exits her body.
A lack of physical touch can cause stress, anxiety, and depression.
If you're single or in a high risk group for COVID-19, self-massage is a Godsend.
You don't need masseuse school. Simply experiment until you find what feels good.
Most people carry tension in their neck, back, shoulders, and forehead. Address those areas first.
Start with a smooth, gentle touch. Squeeze your muscles and watch as your body becomes more relaxed.
After a few minutes of light touching, try a stronger grip. Observe: did that produce a more or less beneficial effect?
As you become more comfortable with massaging yourself, transition to other body parts and repeat the same process.
4. Take a social media break.
Social media isn't necessarily a bad thing.
It's a great place to connect with friends and family.
Plus there's no faster way to build a professional network.
That said, social media has a dark side that should be avoided at all costs.
Facebook is just as addictive as cigarettes, according to an executive who left the company.
Like any addiction, getting hooked can have repercussions that affect you and the people you love.
Some people get too absorbed in social media. They can't even have a conversation without staring at their screen.
If your loved ones don't feel like you're listening, they might decide you don't care about them. Can you really blame them?
The same is true for watching TV or movies together. It's meant to be a shared experience. If your mind is elsewhere, you'll ruin the mood.
Mental health can suffer, too. Good luck finding inner peace after you read a bunch of scary sounding articles about how horrible the world is.
Does anything I said feel relatable? If so, do yourself a favor and deactivate your social media accounts for a week. Your friends will still be there later.
5. Find a mantra that resonates.
The mind is covered in landmines.
It could be your number one nemesis.
Whispering sinister thoughts like these:
-"I'm not good enough."
-"I don't deserve to be happy."
-"I'll never get my life together."
No matter how wrong a thought is, we can't simply discard it.
The mind is also talkative. It doesn't shut up (unless you've reached enlightenment).
In order to beat this self-defeating chorus, you must brainwash your way to a positive mindset.
Repetition is a common feature of propaganda. Repeat a statement enough times and people assume it's true.
Just ask George W. Bush, who started a war by repeatedly insisting there were "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq.
Bush was so successful the American news media repeated his claim without verifying its accuracy... and we're still paying the price.
Politics aside, you can use this evil trick for good. Mantras and affirmations are effective for the exact same reason propaganda is: repetition.
Ready to drink the Kool-Aid? Cool. I've already made a list of mantras that unlock superhuman mental strength. Click the previous link to open it in a new tab.
6. Meditate on the mantra's meaning.
Ever heard of the Secret?
It's a book about the law of attraction.
And it takes the concept of mantras too far.
Can a mantra boost your mood and mental health? Absolutely.
But no mantra will magically attract a million dollars or soulmate into your life.
That responsibility rests with you. Mantras just make it easier to believe in yourself.
Without self-belief, you won't even bother. The mantra's job is to get you past that mental barrier.
To maximize this effect, meditate on what the mantra means to you. Identify practical ways to apply its meaning in real life.
The more you live a mantra's truth, the more powerful its effect becomes. In the process, you'll evolve into a better version of yourself.
7. Practice proper breathing techniques.
The human body is equipped with a built-in stress management system.
Tragically, most people haven't read the training manual about how to use this resource.
The average human pays zero attention to how they breathe. Why should they? They haven't died, so they must be doing it right.
If only it was so simple. Short and shallow breaths are the norm. This breathing style amplifies stressful thoughts and feelings as they arise.
Luckily, the solution is simple. Long, deep breaths calm the mind and body. Learning to control your breathing isn't nearly as difficult as doing your taxes.
The only hard part? Remembering to examine your breathing pattern. To begin, take one minute at the start of every day and dedicate it to conscious breathing.
After a week of practice, add another element. Stay with your breath as it enters and exits your body. Send healing energy to every organ and muscle with intention.
Picture a bright light as you inhale. Envision dark storm clouds as you exhale. The incoming light brings peace and calm. The outgoing darkness expels stress and turmoil.
As you inhale, think to yourself: "I'm inhaling clarity." During exhales, think: "I'm exhaling chaos." You're welcome to replace "clarity" and "chaos" with words that have a special meaning to you. "Love" and "hate" for example.
8. Understand your body is meant to move.
The human body is built for movement.
If our feet and legs weren't designed for walking, what's their purpose?
They're definitely not meant to be shoved underneath a desk for the entire day.
Your body contains a total of 650 muscles. How wasteful would it be to not use them?
Aging doesn't have to be a brutal process. Strong muscles are less prone to aches, pains, and strains.
As the Bible says, your body is a temple. This is a great philosophy to follow regardless of your belief system.
Exercise releases endorphins or feel good chemicals that boost your mood. It's scientifically proven to boost your mental health, too.
You don't have to do CrossFit or buy expensive equipment. According to Harvard, an hour walk or fifteen minute run is enough to reduce the risk of depression.
Start with a small goal you can sustain, such as taking a brief walk in your neighborhood. Build on that goal by adding an extra 5-10 minutes to your stroll every week.
With the world locked down, you might not have access to the gym. Or you might just be too afraid to go. That's okay. You can do strength training at home. Here's a list of beginner friendly bodyweight exercises to get you started (link opens in a new tab).
9. Align your habits, beliefs, and identity.
Politicians are liars and hypocrites.
While telling us to stay home, they have fundraising events and call them "essential."
Deep down, their souls are rotten. I doubt they sleep well at night, because their conscience has to be screaming at them.
Don't be like that. Saying one thing and doing another is a recipe for regret. Unless you're a sociopath, the disconnect will catch up with you.
Identity is the core level of who we are. If you identify as an "early bird," you wake up with a smile on your face, and annoy the night owls in your household.
It's important to craft an identity that's customized to fit your future objectives. You can't aspire to be a millionaire while identifying as a "broke and lazy loser."
A broke and lazy loser behaves in broke and lazy ways. It's impossible to create wealth with this mindset. Make this mistake and you'll lose before the race begins.
Think about superheroes for a second. Bruce Wayne doesn't identify as "Bruce Wayne." He identifies as Batman. "Bruce Wayne" is just a mask he wears to function in everyday society.
No superhero accepts the identity they were given at birth. They choose a new identity that matches their mission or purpose. If you want to reinvent yourself, this step is 100% mandatory.
Beliefs and habits are important. But they're born from your identity. With the right identity in place, beliefs and habits take care of themselves. This is especially true when you use mantras as discussed in #5.
Why do you wake up in the morning?
What makes you different and special?
Which life goals matter the most to you?
Who do you love (or wish to connect with)?
Explore these questions in depth and create an identity that fits your takeaways.
10. Only consume positive media and content.
I refuse to read negative news stories.
Nasty stuff will happen with or without my awareness.
What difference does reading the doom and gloom make? Zero.
The same reasoning applies to political arguments. Most people are set in their ways.
You'll just get in a fight that spikes your stress levels without accomplishing anything tangible.
If you can name one occasion where you changed somebody's mind online, I'll write you a check for $100.
Negative content makes you feel bad. Positive content makes you feel good. We don't need a study to prove the obvious.
I know this is easier said than done. Here's a thought exercise that might help. Keep a piece of paper nearby. Apps like Evernote work, too.
Every time you consume content that causes stress or tension, add a mark to your tally. By the end of the day, you'll validate the problem for yourself.
Your mission is to make that number smaller and smaller with every passing day. Pay attention to your mood and mental state. I promise you'll see a difference.
You deserve to be happy and mentally healthy.
There's no escape from your thoughts or feelings.
They follow you with more persistence than a needy dog.
If your thoughts and feelings are negative today, they don't have to stay that way.
The strategies we discussed will help you boost your mood and mental health on a daily basis.
I don't recommend applying every concept at the same time. The path to victory is paved with patience.
Select one mood booster for now. Bookmark this page, come back in a week, and select another strategy to implement.