1. Go outside
This shouldn’t really be a tip, but in our day and age, it has sadly become one. Going outside, spending time in nature, breathing fresh air, these things are indispensable for our well-being. 20 to 30 minutes a day will already lower your stress level and prevent mental illnesses such as depression. I’ve neglected this tip all too often. Working behind my desk all day. So, let’s make this a conscious effort to go outside.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Make time for “real people”
You know, not the ones on social media. In our present time, it’s difficult to even meet friends and family. That takes a toll on our mental health. Humans are social creatures. We need our peers. I’m truly grateful for my social media community, the short conversations here and there, an uplifting tweet, but I miss spending time with people in person. Eye to eye. We need to make time for that. Especially now.
3. Learn to power down
As much as we need time for friends and family, we also have to clear time in our schedule for ourselves. To re-energize and relax. Sleeping is not enough for this. A conscious pause is extremely valuable.
Activities that can improve our mental health include a walk in the countryside, an extensive bath, or enjoying a hot beverage. Small breaks are also important at work. Instead of spending your lunch break in front of your desk, get some fresh air and clear your head! Power you down, not the computer.
This is not a new tip. I talked about it just recently. But one of my favorite activities for mental clarity is meditation. Usually combined with a slow yoga session. Guided inhalation and exhalation have numerous advantages and may even prevent mental illnesses. Meditation aids in dealing with external impulses: Anxiety, concentration, and stress can thus be better processed.
5. Sleep well
Meditation won’t help if you’re not sleeping well. In fact, none of the tips will. Sleeping — not the duration but the deep state of it — is needed for every function in our body and brain. Often, we realize how important sleep is when we don’t have enough of it. I am a father of 4. I know what I’m talking about. It’s even more important for me to make sleep a priority.
6. Be grateful
Focussing on the negative aspects of life will lead to a negative state of mind. The same is true for “always desiring more”. That’s not to mean you shouldn’t be motivated, have goals, or be dedicated to something. But as Roy Bennet said:
“Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals.”
Maybe you’ll benefit from consciously taking one day a week to become aware of what you are grateful for. There are even studies that suggest that being grateful and saying “thank you” on a regular basis make you a happier person.
7. Talk about problems
Sometimes, you need to talk about something. It’s easy to keep it to yourself. It’s hard to talk about it with someone else. I’m really not good at communicating my feelings. My wife — and our 10-year relationship — has made this much easier for me. I always knew I needed someone to talk to, now I have found the one.
8. Eat mindfully
Finally, eating affects our mind as well. Maybe not the food itself, but rather the relationship we have with food. Is eating a joy or a burden? Is the thought about it making you happy or sad? How do you feel after the meal? All these thoughts affect us mentally.
Ideally, this shouldn’t be the case. Food is meant to nourish our bodies and minds. To fill us up with nutrients, to re-energize, and repair damage from stress, vigorous activity, or even injury. It’s not meant to harm us. But it can. So, eat mindfully. Try to enjoy food for what it is: Nutrition for your body and soul.
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”
― François de la Rochefoucauld
Let’s quickly recap the 8 manageable ways to stabilize your mental health:
- Go outside
- Make time for “real” people
- Learn to power down
- Sleep well
- Be grateful
- Talk about problems
- Eat mindfully
These 8 tips won’t cure mental illnesses. But they might prevent them. Or at least help in doing so. It never hurts to be more mindful about the important things in life. But it will do harm to ignore them.