While it is easy to understand what kinds of activities lead to better physical health, it can be more challenging to figure out how to improve your mental health. If you have found yourself struggling against thoughts or feelings that seem to be pulling you down, here are some techniques to help get you centered and on your path to an improved mental state.
Silence Your Inner Critic
Most of us have a constant internal dialogue running softly in the background. At times, it is the little voice telling you that you aren’t good enough, or that you don’t deserve to accomplish something you are working toward. One way to improve your overall mental health is to learn to silence that voice.
The first step to denying your inner critic is to learn to recognize those thoughts as they occur. Don’t punish yourself for thinking the negative thoughts. Instead, learn to counteract them with positive affirmations. These can be personal mantras that can serve as reminders about why you are deserving, or how you will meet your goals.
If you have trouble coming up with a mantra on your own, consider using quotes from respected authors focused on the self-improvement field, such as the works of Karen Salmansohn. If you find a particular line inspiring, add it to your regular positive affirmation rotation.
Don’t Bottle Up Your Frustrations
Just as the negative self-talk can be harmful to your mental health, so is not addressing your frustrations and bottling up your emotions. This doesn’t require being confrontational with others. Instead, acknowledge any negative feeling you are experiencing, and take the opportunity to look at the source of the frustration.
Often, the thing that appears to bother us on the surface is not the true cause of the frustration. By identifying what is causing the trouble, you can choose to move on and can learn how to better handle the situation next time. For example, you may believe you are angry at a friend because they were trying to force their opinion on you, but the true cause could be that you don’t feel as though your friend is truly hearing you. Instead, they are trying to help by offering advice, though what you really wanted was to bend their ear, or maybe have a shoulder to cry on.
Get Enough Exercise
Part of your mental health is tied to your activity levels. Any kind of exercise can relieve stress and ultimately improve overall mental health. Exercise increases various feel-good chemicals in the body, include endorphins. Additionally, it can function as a form of moving meditation, allowing your mind to focus on the task at hand instead of the causes of your stress.
Over time, people who exercise see improvements in their level of confidence, and may experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Take Time to Laugh
Laughter can be an excellent stress reducer. Like exercise, laughter promotes the production and release of feel-good chemicals in the brain. While even short breaks during the day that allow you to laugh, such as reading the comics in the local paper or looking at memes on the internet can do some good, it is also good to experience longer periods that promote laughter. In this case, kicking back to watch your favorite funny movie or going to a comedy show may actually be good for you health.