I am no expert on mental health, but I do know what it’s like to struggle with mental battles. If you don’t already know, I have anxiety and panic attacks. I say that “I have” because occasionally they still creep up on me. I am nowhere near as bad as I used to be, but I still have my days where I have to fight a little harder.
For that reason I wanted to share with you 5 daily tips/tricks that I use to help improve my mental health. Many people don’t realize that just like with physical health, improving mental health takes time, practice, and discipline.
You won’t find a five minute meditation video that instantly heals you, just like you can’t run for five minutes and declare yourself “physically fit”.
I am continuing to learn and try new things that will help improve my mental health and build resilience in me. I wish I could share with you everything (and honestly I probably will at some point), but today I want to give you just five simple tricks you can do on a daily basis that will help you fight whatever mental battle you are facing.
Five Tips for Improving Your Mental Health
Ah yes the big buzz word these days. Before you quickly skip to the next one, hear me out. I am not telling you that you need to close your eyes, focus on your breath, and sit still for 15 minutes (although if you want too then I highly recommend the Calm app).
Instead mindfulness can be something you practice throughout the day. It is just the act of staying present. I mentioned in a previous post that I practice while I wash my dishes. Instead of watching TV or thinking about all the other things that need to get done, I focus on just the dish I am washing.
While you walk from one end of the house to the other, focus on the way your feet feel in your shoes or the smells that come from the kitchen (good or bad). Don’t judge any of the sensations or when your thoughts wander. Allow yourself to return to focusing on the dish, your feet, or whatever you choose to focus on. Don’t beat yourself up about it though, my mind wanders all the time while practicing!
I’ve got another “ness” for you! This one is so easy to do and makes such a difference in my day! As my husband and I sit down for dinner we each take turns saying five things we are thankful for from that day. You can even write it in a journal if you prefer not to share! This is a great way to change your perspective and allows you to focus on the positive instead of the negative.
They can be as simple as:
1. My health
2. Food to eat
3. The lady who said hi to me at the store
4. A car that got me to my appointment
5. I was able to do my work out today
Keeping it simple is just fine. It helps pull us away from that negative mindset that many of us live in.
I understand that not everyone reading this believes in God or has a relationship with Him, but it would be foolish for me not to add this one in there. It has been such a big part of healing for me from my anxiety. There were days that my prayers consisted of anger and disappointment, but over time they began to change. Through prayer, God exposed my heart. He showed me my lack of trust in Him and what He was doing. Although I still often don’t understand and get upset about injustices of this world, I have had to learn to accept and trust. God is still in control.
Prayer has taught me to be thankful and helps me to focus on others instead of myself. I talk more about my specific prayers and how those have really helped in a previous post. Through prayer and filling my mind with God’s word He has been opening doors for me over and over again.
Throughout the day we are running from one place to the next. The busyness can become overwhelming and put us in a rut. If we take just a few minutes here and there throughout the day to pause, it can make a huge difference. Instead of running into the store to get what you need as fast as you can, take a moment to pause. Think about how grateful you are to have a store that has what you need to feed your family. Or simply take just one minute of focusing on your breath.
Slowing down your mind can make your experiences so much richer.
Find a community of friends who will uplift, encourage, and pray for you. When you are surrounded by people who genuinely love who you are, you can’t help but begin to love yourself as well. Within your community, focus on ways to help and love others. Each day, find ways to encourage a friend or help someone in need. Instead of constantly worrying about yourself, find ways to care for the other members in your community. When we change our focus away from ourselves and onto others, we will find a big boost in your mental health.
You are valuable. You are loved. If you are struggling with a mental health illness, then don’t hesitate to reach out. Each of these things takes time to cultivate and to make a difference. I often find myself lacking these things and will notice my anxiety creeping back up on me, but when I am serving God and others, taking time to be present, and stop the rushing, I can be at peace with life.
Overwhelming thoughts and desires can haunt us. Take a stand today to begin striving for mental health. It won’t happen over night, but these things have made a world of difference in my life over these past few months.