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5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health in 2017
1. Limit Negative Self-Talk – We all have those moments when we listen to the chatter in our minds telling us that we’re not good enough or that we won’t be able to achieve our goals. I like to call it the “unplayed shitty committee”. Some days the broken committee is quiet and we are full of confidence and roaring like a lion and then two days later the broken committee is screaming loudly and we feel like we can’t do anything right. Here’s what you need to know about negative self-talk… It’s all lies, don’t believe the hype! The key is awareness. When you catch yourself having these negative thoughts, tell the committee you don’t have it! Look at yourself in the mirror and say “I am good enough to have peace, success and all my dreams”. Replace these negative thoughts with positive ones and you’ll soon find the committee becoming quieter and quieter.
2. Practice Mindfulness – In our fast moving world, it becomes critical to have the ability to still our mind, calm down and connect with our inner being. Finding just 5 minutes a day to practice meditation or some other form of mindfulness can make dramatic changes in your level of happiness and overall mental health. People who are depressed usually spend too much time living in the past, and people who worry constantly spend too much time thinking about the future. Mindfulness allows you to simply be in the present moment and develop an awareness and appreciation for what is happening right now. This year I challenged myself to meditate for 365 consecutive days… #meditate365. I’m on day 18 and I can already see the difference. Join me and develop your daily meditation practice.
3. Let go and forgive – The start of a new one is a great time to deal with any old thoughts, feelings or emotions we’re holding on to that aren’t serving us in a positive way. Hurt from a past relationship, resentment from not getting a job or promotion, or bitterness from a negative interaction with a family member can get stuck inside us and negatively affect our mental health. One of my favorite quotes is “Hating someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Learning to let go and forgive is about us, not the person who hurt us. Forgiveness is a process, but a journey worth the journey. Take some time to think about whether you hold grudges or bad feelings toward anyone or any situation and begin the process of releasing them.
4. Practice Gratitude – We often take the power of gratitude for granted. We all understand the concept of being grateful, but practicing gratitude is more than just saying I’m grateful for everything I have. Being intentional and purposeful about being grateful for what you have and the little things that happen in your life every day can make dramatic changes in your emotional state. Your practice could be verbally expressing gratitude every morning when you wake up or after meditating. It could be keeping a gratitude journal or a gratitude jar and writing down what you are grateful for each day. Or you could join an online gratitude group and share what you’re grateful for by posting daily to the group. I’m part of a gratitude group at Insight Timer and I love doing my daily posts as well as reading what others are grateful for.
5. Practice Self Care – Taking some me time each week can boost your positive mental health in ways you can’t imagine. We are so busy doing things for everyone else that we often forget about ourselves. I always tell my clients that you cannot serve from an empty vessel. You can’t be the best parent, husband or friend if you’re overworked, tired and emotionally drained. Commit to at least one day a week that you will do something to show yourself love. This year I’m working on it by designating Sundays as Self-Care Sundays. It’s the one day a week that I’m not allowed to do any work and I have to do something just for me. For those of you who fall into the workaholic category, this can be difficult, but the rewards far outweigh the challenge. Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.
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