Declining mental health is a topic that does not seem to be going away – or even improving. We’re compiling a series of articles based on current research of little life changes we can make to improve mental wellbeing.
In the May 2022 issue of Prevention magazine, Zee Krstic outlines unhelpful habits –and what we can do to change those habits – to boost happiness and overall wellbeing. Share these quick tips to strive for better mental health and wellbeing.
Instead of Comparing Yourself With People Around You
Try Thinking About What Makes You Special
We all have friends whose social media posts depict perfect dinner parties, endless fun and a life of never missing their child’s game. But there is no sense in dwelling on where we fall short as friends, parents, or people.
Learning to focus on ourselves instead of others can help decrease stress and anxiety, and increase happiness and self-esteem. Try celebrating strengths and victories – even tiny ones – and doing things that bring you happiness without external validation.
Instead of Shouldering Responsibility for Everything
Try Delegating – even if it doesn’t seem worth it
Whether you’re prepping for Thanksgiving or handling a big project at work, it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing almost everything to try to make everything perfect. Letting people help – even with small things – can help lower your stress. Recognize how much happens effortlessly!
Instead of Tracking Who Disappoints You
Try Noticing Who Comes Through
It’s hard to forget who didn’t come through for you when you needed a hand or who failed to show up at an event you hosted. But try instead to embrace gratitude for those who do show up. It increases happiness, improves social relationships and self-esteem, and even increases our longevity. Starting a simple gratitude journal, where you write a few sentences about something you’re thankful for, can make a big impact. It could be something as simple as a beautiful tree that you pass on the way to work.
Instead of Constantly Checking Your Phone
Try Taking Intentional Breaks
Leave your phone out of the picture when you’re with friends and family, even if you’re just digging into takeout food on the couch. Too much social media use has been connected to depression and anxiety, and online time makes it harder to focus. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help boost your emotional wellbeing and help you stay present in the moment. It will likely make your companions happier as well! Apps like Headspace or Calm can help if you’re new to meditation or mindfulness.
Instead of Shopping for Happiness
Try Reveling in Nonmaterial Joys and Experiences
Humans have evolved to recalibrate quickly after events, so the happiness boost triggered by things outside of ourselves fades fast. Instead of chasing things we think will make us happy, try having adventures with friends or teaching a nephew to read. Intangible events give us real and lasting warm fuzzies.
Instead of Overthinking
Try Focusing on What you Can Control
Thousands of years ago, the practice of turning things over in our minds kept us from repeating dangerous mistakes. These days, overthinking can lead us to agonize over mundane things like the wording of a text message or events beyond our control.
To prevent spiraling, decide whether you’re obsessing about something you can actually change. If so, dedicate some time to taking action.
Instead of Holding on to a Grievance
Try Loosening Your Grip and Letting Go
Revisiting things like a friend who forgot to invite you to a party or a neighbour who spoke ill of you only hurts you. Holding onto anger and repressing angry feelings may even increase blood pressure and the risk of coronary heart disease. Forgiveness can lead to better mental health, so try either considering where the other person was coming from, and even if you can’t forgive them, decide that their actions are their problem and commit to a fresh start.
Prevention magazine, May 2022 by Zee Krstic