Taking care of our mental health is a need, especially in today’s fast-paced world. All of us experience stress in our day-to-day routine According to research, the new generation is vulnerable to experiencing different mental health challenges. At times, it gets unmanageable and we are sometimes stuck in the loop of negativity. Incorporating simple yet effective activities into our daily routine can make a difference. Research has found certain activities such as gratitude, journaling, and mindfulness effective methods to support better mental health. In this article, we will learn some small but influential mental health care activities that can regulate your mood and cultivate positive emotions.
1. Gratitude Journal
To practice gratitude is to attune yourself to the good aspects that have happened to you throughout the day. At times, we are held so much into the uncertainties and sad parts of our lives that we forget to pay attention to the brighter sides. We sometimes take it for granted.
The uniqueness of gratitude is that you can be grateful for anything. There is no ‘right or wrong’ on what you feel grateful for. It is subjective, and personal for each individual. Gratitude isn’t just being thankful for the big things in your life, it’s also about learning to notice all the little things that happen that you can be happy about. You can be grateful for even the basic things like having food, shelter, and clothes. Research provides evidence that practicing gratitude helps you become more optimistic, and mindful and lowers your stress levels.
So what are you thankful for today? You can begin by naming a person, place, food, or thing that you feel thankful for.
2. Have you got enough sleep, exercise, and diet in your day?
Meeting your basic physical needs for your body is essential. Mental health and physical health are closely interconnected. Your body works on the energy that sleep, food, and body movement provide to get you moving throughout the day. These are the basic requirements for a functioning individual’s needs. Diets that are nutritious, especially protein-rich foods can support your mental health. Protein contains chemicals called amino acids, needed for your brain to produce chemicals called neurotransmitters. Regulated functioning of neurotransmitters, helps to maintain mental wellness. 8 hours of sleep is crucial for humans to function optimally throughout the day. Sleep is to recover the wear and tear of your body’s organs and restore the balance for a new day of learning and productivity.
3. Breathing Exercises: Taking deep breaths during stressful situations
Everyone experiences stress in their day-to-day life. We have to complete work to meet deadlines and work to meet many other essential goals. Deep breathing is a way to deal with stress more effectively. It can help you relax your body, when in a state of heightened stress or anxiety. Deep breathing lowers the heart rate and blood pressure in our body. The practice of deep breathing will allow your body and mind to recharge. Start your day with mindful breathing. Sit in a comfortable spot, where it is quiet. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale from your mouth, letting go of any tension. Let the negative thoughts come and go as you practice this breathing exercise.
Writing down your feelings is a great technique to vent out anger and sadness. According to Therapist Bisma Anwar, “Journaling can help you with processing negative thoughts and feelings. It is a great outlet for strong or intense emotions that might be challenging to cope with”.
You can start writing by expressing anything that is going on inside your mind. If you are unable to find words that portray how you feel, you can even use colored pens or crayons and start drawing out how you feel. Anything that expresses your state of mind on a piece of paper, is called journaling. Practicing journaling frequently can help you develop a greater sense of bond or connection with yourself. Journaling can help get in touch and reconnect with your inner self. Expressive writing and gratitude journaling have also been seen to change the way you communicate with your partner, friends, or family. You can find many prompts online that can help you out with getting started.
What can I include in my Journal?
- Thoughts/ feelings about your day
- Reminiscing Happy Memories: a memory you would like to revisit in your life
- What a happy day would look like for you?
- Task schedule for the day
- A letter to yourself/ someone from the past
5. Utilize Social media for a dedicated purpose:
In this digital networking age, we need to utilize social media mindfully. Think before you open any social media app like Instagram or YouTube.
Give it a thought; am I here to mindlessly scroll? Is it a priority for me to open up my DM?
Set aside time each day to unplug and engage in other activities. Regularly review and unfollow/mute accounts that share irrelevant content. Curate your feed to include positive and uplifting content.
6. Practicing Mindfulness:
While we vent our feelings, we come to know that we feel hurt or angry about certain things because we have certain expectations attached to the life we want to live. Attempting to change reality is a battle that you are likely to lose. You are likely to end up getting angry and sad. In situations like this, it is essential to practice being mindful (accepting and acknowledging your feelings) and set boundaries.
Mindfulness is being attuned to the present, allowing yourself to feel your emotions. You allow yourself to feel completely, without any judgment. At times when you feel like you are experiencing moments of joy, sadness, frustration, or any other emotion, recognize it without trying to manipulate it by suppressing or changing it. Being mindful also means you observe your emotions without attaching labels, or narratives to them. Write down your thoughts or feelings. Acknowledge and accept what the present situation currently is. Letting go of expectations that consist of ‘shoulds’ can help you release yourself from the unrealistic burden that you are carrying along. The release can create space for more authentic experiences.
7. Visualization: A way to manifest your goals
If you are facing any difficulty in putting a task into action, a great way to initiate the process can be visualizing yourself doing it.
Before any event, sit for a moment, and vividly imagine your desired outcomes. By imagining the desired outcomes, you stimulate motivation, enhance your focus, and create a mental blueprint to follow. Let’s say your goal is ‘to learn how to drive’. Initiate by imagining yourself sitting in the car, in the driver’s seat. You notice the steering wheel, the pedals underneath, the mirror on your right side, the gear lever, and the hand brake. You mentally rehearse yourself, familiarizing your mind with the actions involved in driving. This helps your mind to become better prepared, rather than stressed due to uncertainty and fear of the worst that could happen.
Similarly, If you have stage fear, imagine yourself standing in front of several people, speaking your heart out in your mind before you give a presentation. Manifest that energy in your reality. Visualisation is a confidence-building tool, applicable to many parts of your life.
8. Mood Tracker:
Mood tracking can help you track and understand: at what times does your mood shift? What are my triggers? These questions help you understand more about how you feel in what situations. By acknowledging these shifts, you gain more control in knowing how to regulate your own emotions.
Mood tracking apps
There are many free mood-tracking apps that you can find on Google Play or app store. For example, Moodfit helps you track your different moods and other symptoms. It uses the foundations of cognitive behavioral therapy helping you focus on your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The app also teaches you essential coping skills. It is equipped with self-care tools: like mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises that will help you deal with stress more effectively and encourage relaxation. Apps also have medication trackers that let you record your medication responses.