Periods of depression, anxiety, stress, and crippling self doubt can get the best of even the most optimistic and productive soul. No one is immune to life's challenges, be they at work, on the home front, or simply in one's own mind.
The good news is, there are ways to fortify yourself against such struggles, and give yourself the best possible start on the day.
Whether it's morning meditation, positive affirmations, or giving yourself a break from the outside world every now and then, here are some everyday mental health pick-me-ups to bring some much-needed peace and balance.
Most of us lead busy lives that seldom allow for any lengthy meditation sessions; children, work calls, and daily responsibilities can all but deter one from stealing a few moments of calm.
However, waking up a little earlier than usual and enjoying even 20 minutes of meditation can give you a surprisingly stellar launch on the day to come.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to relieve stress, focus the mind, reduce anxiety, combat addiction, and provide an overall sense of tranquility.
You've probably noticed the difference when starting the day with curses and grumblings vs. a relatively sunny outlook.
Our thoughts have a sneaky tendency to translate into reality, so why not provide yourself with an added boost of self assurance?
You may not be able to choose which side of the bed you wake up on so to speak, but you can give yourself a fighting chance with some simple spoken affirmations such as:
- “Today I am overflowing with energy and brimming with joy.”
- “I am better than my negative thoughts and impervious to outside negativity as well.”
- “Today I will utilize and be recognized for my talents and efforts.”
- “I already possess all the qualities needed to ensure success.”
- “I am not past, and my present actions will determine my future.”
- “I choose happiness over sorrow, success over defeat, and kindness over cruelty.”
- “I am a courageous soul, and will stand up for what I believe to be right and true.”
- “Today I will embrace what I know in my heart I deserve, and return my gratitude to others.”
When we stop to consider the things we're grateful for, no matter their scale, we immediately reevaluate our life in a more positive light. Instead of dwelling on all the things that are troubling you or preventing your success/joy/sense of fulfillment, try listing all the things you are truly thankful for.
It doesn't have to be anything huge: maybe your local barista always greets you with a sincere and personable compliment or a coworker always remembers to stock the kitchen with your favorite teas or pastries; perhaps you have a loving and supportive partner or friend who always makes you laugh, or you live in a part of the world others only dream of visiting.
Taking a moment, even in the midst of a particularly stressful day, to count your blessings can help you regain a bit of necessary perspective.
Parks and Recreation's Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford had the right idea: sometimes you just need to treat yourself. Whether it's a shopping spree, pamper session, or meal at your favorite restaurant, there's nothing wrong with enjoying some good old fashioned self care.
Sometimes even taking a few hours to enjoy a long hot bath, good book, or stroll through the park after work can soothe and restore your spirits, especially after a grueling day.
Have A Good Laugh
A good laugh can not only brighten your day, but scientists have found that laughter lowers the blood pressure, boosts endorphins (also known as ‘happy hormones'), reduces stress, and even tones your abs!
Catching a funny show, reading the comics, or chatting with a dazzlingly quick-witted friend can be all the silver lining you need to put your day back into a more light-hearted balance.
Turn Up The Tunes
Music has long held a powerful sway over humans – why else do we “set the mood” with romantic ballads or up the energy with upbeat tunes? Listening to your favorite music on the morning ride can rev you up and keep you going.
Conversely, chilling out in the evening to some soothing sounds can help you unwind and let go of the day's events.
Stop And Smell The Roses
Over the years, studies have shown that scents have a considerable effect on our senses and thus, mental outlook. A recent Rutgers University study in particular revealed that those who work in rooms naturally scented with flowers perform considerably better than those who do not, and what's more maintain an overall cheerier demeanor.
Try keeping a fragrant plant or fresh bouquet of flowers by your desk or bedside table and see if you find your mood unexpectedly lifted.
Do Nice Things For Others
Whether you believe in karma or not, there's no denying the joy of seeing someone's face light up at a thoughtful gesture on your part. Just as helping others tends to give us a sense of helping ourselves, even the smallest gesture of kindness can induce a smile of one's own.
Baking something nice for the office, bringing a neighbor some flowers from your garden, or thanking a member of the service industry for their hard work can keep the good vibes going strong for everyone's day.
Take A Cat Nap
Science has found that a 10-30 minute nap can recharge your internal battery, improving your short-term mood, alertness, and productivity.
The next time you find yourself dragging your feet or feeling more than a little overwhelmed, let your head hit the pillow for some snooze time and see if you wake feeling infinitely better and ready to resume the day.
Leave Your Screen And Get Moving
Our electronic devices may be godsends and necessities in this day and age, but they can also contribute to many of the stress factors that lead to mental burn-out.
Stepping away from your computer or electronic device for even 30 mins and getting some fresh air can revive your mood and get the mental lead out.