We all lead chaotic lives, and we all have different mechanisms in which we cope with arising issues – some of which are healthier than others. Life’s woes are inevitable, and you can’t necessarily control what the world puts on your plate. In order to keep yourself grounded and protect your mental health, there are more than a few ways to create a life that blossoms, instead of one that feels out of control.
Positivity. You’ve heard it before. But it’s not so easy to be positive after you’ve spilt a seven dollar matcha on your new shirt before work. On those days, when it feels like the universe is laughing at you – retaliate with positivity. Think about the good things your day brought you. It can be as simple as the compliment you received from a stranger. Remind yourself of the light instead of the darkness.
Don’t overthink. This proves to be a demanding practice, especially if you’re an inherently anxious person. Working yourself up does nothing. In fact, it can make things worse, causing a mental spiral, allowing the stress to drown you like waves during a riptide. Most of us have been there: with our heads on our pillows, avoiding sleep to replay that one thing over and over in our minds. Like I said, we all have different coping mechanisms, but this one isn’t the healthiest. To avoid overthinking, fill your day with activities. Allow yourself to live in (and find joy in) the present!
Try not to procrastinate. A crime almost all of us have committed at some point: unnecessary postponement. Have you ever dreaded something so much that you put it off, and, suddenly, you became anxious about putting it off in the first place? Get it – whatever it is – over with! Do that work, even if it takes hours. Study for that test, even if you take multiple breaks for snacks. Go to that event, even if your fear is holding you back. Push yourself out of your shell and into being your most productive self by taking on whatever it is you’ve been avoiding - you’ll be surprised how relieved you are.
Fill your life with things that make you happy. It’s cliché, but it’s true. Happiness doesn’t have to mean you’ve found the perfect career or the perfect significant other. It means you’re doing something that makes your world feel a little less gloomy. Waking up early to watch the sun say hello, drinking that extra cup of coffee, sleeping in for an extra hour, spending a few hours on the couch binge-watching that show you’re obsessed with – whatever it may be, do more of it! What is the point in life if not to find a shred of happiness along the way?
Don’t compare yourself to others. Of all practices mentioned, this is simultaneously the most difficult and most important. Being comfortable with yourself can positively affect multiple areas of your life. However, gaining confidence is not an overnight operation. Like playing guitar, it takes practice. Think of your brain as the instrument, your self-image as the strings, and your confidence as the notes. With practice, you can be harmonious. There will always be someone who – from your perspective – is better than you: more intellectual, more attractive, more successful. But you bring something unique to the world, so instead of looking to others, look within yourself and hone in on your idiosyncrasies.
Don’t let other people dictate your life. Going hand-in-hand with the last practice, you can’t let anyone else dim your light. It’s simple: don’t let others put a damper on the things that make you happy, don’t let them control your path, and don’t let their words bring you down. Ignore the noise and break through those barriers because only you have solitary control of your life.
Try to be more physically healthy. Although our brain is one of the most important organs, it’s not the only one. In your strive to improve mental health, you can’t forget about physical health. The two benefit from one another immensely. When it comes to exercise, you can try something as simple as going for a walk at the end of the day, meditative yoga, or even dancing your heart out. Lastly, the most important element to physical health is your diet. Pay closer attention to what foods you eat: fruits, vegetables, and organic foods are better for your body and, therefore, better for your brain. Remember: it’s not about how you look – it’s about how you feel. Attempting to maintain physical health is a valiant effort in working towards mental health.