Solid mental health requires effort, but the payoffs are better relationships, a more positive mood, less obsession, fewer worries, increased physical health and more restful sleep. A psychological fitness regimen can help you achieve such goals. Put the following program’s techniques and principles to work. Your mind will thank you for it.
Basic Principle For Staying Mentally Fit
Mental health requires two things. First, you must feel good about yourself, and deeply value and approve of yourself. Indeed, you should feel the same deep love for yourself that parents feel toward their infants. This is a prime foundation for mental health. Without that vital sense of self-approval, your ideas and actions can undermine your mental health. Second, you must believe that you can change. In fact, your body and mind are changing constantly.
You can harness that flexibility so that it works for you, not against you. Don’t think that you are stuck in a mental rut. Instead, assess where you are now to embark on a fruitful transition. Accept the present as the canvas you will paint your future upon; forget the past since you can’t alter it. Move beyond recrimination. Even though the future is uncertain, look ahead hopefully. Boldly set out toward a new, better you.
Seven Essential Skills For Good Mental Health
A great pitcher must develop accuracy, a strong fastball, and a good curve. Professional athletes need such basic skills to be competent at their jobs. Similarly, you need seven primary skills to attain positive mental health–
- Manage your time. Use your time to do things that advance your goals. Most people waste their time because they lack clear aspirations. Here’s a useful thought experiment– Imagine how you would like people to remember you and your accomplishments at your funeral. What do you want them to say? Focus on the achievements you want them to mention. These are your priorities and goals. Write a personal statement outlining these objectives. Now, organize your time efficiently to achieve them. Don’t waste time on unnecessary activities.
- Face reality. Whatever your problems are, face up to them squarely. Because failure to be realistic will only make matters worse and lead to new problems. Acknowledge your dilemmas. When you confront them, you may see that they are not as bad as you feared.
- Solve your problems. Once you identify your problems, develop multiple solutions for them. Use the STEP approach– Select the best solution. Try it. Evaluate the results. Persist until things are better.
- Become your own best friend. Few people go out of their way to give themselves rewards and treats, so be generous with yourself.
- Develop perspective. Do you see things clearly? Or, is your thinking distorted? How you view the facts– a process that also involves deciding which facts to view– determines your mood. Try to develop a positive outlook. Don’t give into catastrophic crooked thinking, which involves engaging in fortune telling, taking everything personally and substituting emotion for logic. Avoid absolutist thoughts that involve these words– should, must, have to and ought.
- Work on your self-esteem. Like a weightlifter who works to build muscle mass, you can build your self-confidence. Try new things to gain assurance. If you act confidently, you will lead other people to see you as confident. You may even fool yourself. Hush your internal critic. Speak positively to yourself about yourself. Do not be harsh because no one is perfect, not even you.
- Teach yourself how to relax. Relaxing is a skill you can learn and develop, just like riding a bicycle. You must practice to become good at it. The process is simple and straightforward. Tense your muscles and then relax them. Work on one muscle group, then another. Free your mind at the same time. Imagine being somewhere that deeply soothes you. Breathe deeply. Eventually, you will relax. Once you have perfected this procedure, make it your daily relaxation regimen.
The Mind-Body Connection
You must tend to your physical health to achieve good mental health. Eat the right foods; get plenty of exercise and sleep. Work to overcome bad habits and addictions. What you do to your body affects your mind, and how you use your mind affects your body. Hence, the mind-body connection. Use these tips to eat and sleep better, to improve your memory, and to cut bad habits–
- Diet– Most dieters don’t do well in losing weight. Typically, they gain back any lost weight when they stop dieting. Further, diets stress and fatigue the body. Instead of dieting, eat nutritionally, in light portions at set times. Other than those times, stay away from food. Leaving tempting food around the house is an invitation to snack.
- Sleep Issues– To eliminate a sleep problem, make sure you have a comfortable bed. In the evening, stay away from alcohol, coffee, hot chocolate, tea, tobacco and diuretics. Set firm patterns for night and morning activities. Once the lights are out, stop thinking. Rest. There are more than ten ways to help you sleep faster without having the need to count sheep every night.
- Bad Habits– Your habits are how you deal with the world– and yourself. Deeply ingrained bad habits are not easy to break, but you can do it. First, make a firm commitment to yourself to eliminate the habit. Carefully examine it so you understand everything about it. Strategize on how to get rid of it. Substitute something positive for the habit. Each day that you don’t do the bad habit reinforces your decision to eliminate it. If you fail, try again. Keep at it until the bad habit is gone.
- Memory– To remember things better, make them stand out in your mind. While if you want to learn a foreign language or retain information about a new subject, confine your study to a period of no more than thirty-five minutes daily. Research shows that most people can concentrate fully for this period of time without difficulty. Trying to concentrate for a longer period is not efficient. Use the thirty-five-minute period by spending twenty minutes absorbing new information. Take a very brief break. Then spend a few minutes going over new material you learned during yesterday’s twenty-minute period, a few minutes on new learning from a week ago, and a few minutes on what you learned a month ago. In the final five minutes, review what you learned at the beginning of your current session.