This is Part II of our two part blog. In our first installment we provided basic information to help you assess your current state of mind. In Part II, we offer coping strategies and tips for improving your mental wellness.
The tools to mental wellness are in your own hands. The following are suggestions every single one of us can follow for achieving optimal mental wellness.
In the 1960s Timothy Leary, professor of psychology at Harvard and father of the countercultural movement coined what would become the catchphrase of the decade: “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Of course, he was suggesting that through the use of psychedelic drugs like LSD, people could detach themselves from the here and now to find a new path and embrace change. Leary was onto something, but you don’t need drugs or any other chemicals to achieve meaningful results. Instead, try practicing mindfulness.
This means becoming aware of what is happening in the present moment. To do this, pay attention to what is happening right now. Don’t try to change anything. Simply pay attention to what you’re seeing, hearing, smelling, touching or tasting. Don’t think about what comes next. Don’t think about what bills you need to pay. Instead, make a conscious choice to observe the moment you are in.
When you wake up in the morning, does your brain immediately start racing? Are you on auto-pilot for the rest of the day, never stopping until its nighttime and your head hits the pillow? It’s time to stop! Take ten minutes from your day, and yes, even you can spare ten minutes! Wake up earlier if you have to. Excuse yourself from the lunch crowd and find a place of solitude. Find a quiet place and sit comfortably. Now close your eyes and relax. Breathe slowly. Inhale and exhale deeply. Any time an obtrusive thought comes into your head, push it out. If you want, instead focus on a word, phrase or sound that gives you peace.
Is your body getting the rest that it needs? No two people are the same. Some of us can get by with little sleep, some of us need many hours more. Make sure you know exactly how much sleep your body needs and take steps to make sure you get the rest you need.
A direct causal relationship exists between mental wellness and physical activity. If you exercise, or get up and move around, your body will start to release certain endorphins, which in turn create feelings of euphoria or happiness. You don’t need a membership to an exclusive, fancy gym, and you don’t need designer workout clothes. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes to get up and start moving around.
These strategies are free. Every one of us can make simple adjustments in our lives to achieve optimal mental wellness. For even more ideas check out the Mental Health Wellness Week website at http://www.mhww.org/strategies.html
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