It’s common to fall into a bit of a rut with your mental health at times, especially recently; the stress of the coronavirus pandemic has definitely taken its toll on all of us in one way or another. Luckily, there are plenty of actions you can take today in order to boost your mood and make yourself feel in control and empowered. Read on to learn about five simple and easy ways that you can release endorphins, shift your mindset, and improve your mental health!
1. Start a gratitude journal.
This is a quick and easy way to shift your mindset. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have or what you wish you had in your life, writing in a gratitude journal helps you to focus on what you do have and to feel thankful for it. There are no strict rules for gratitude journals; your entries can be as simple as noting a few things that you’re thankful for each day. So pull out a sheet of paper, identify a couple parts of your life that you’re grateful for, and allow the gratitude to wash over you. You may even choose to write in a gratitude journal daily to maintain your “attitude of gratitude” long-term!
2. Move your body.
Oftentimes, when we’re feeling down, the last thing we really want to do is exercise. But if you can get yourself up and moving, you’re likely to find that physical activity of any kind can give your mood an awesome boost! You don’t need to do a crazy workout if that’s not your style; try taking a walk around the neighborhood and breathing in the fresh air. You could also do some restorative stretching, put on your favorite music and dance, or find other ways to move that you enjoy. Exercise and movement are wonderful for both body and mind, and you don’t have to engage in a hardcore workout to experience their benefits.
3. Connect with a loved one.
Sadly, we often isolate ourselves when we’re not feeling our best. But this is really the opposite of what we should be doing! Reach out to a friend or family member you care about and have a conversation. Text, Snapchat, call, video chat–it doesn’t matter, just nurture that connection and appreciate the oxytocin and dopamine that your brain produces as a result. Many studies suggest that friends can be “better than morphine” thanks to the endorphins that are released when we socialize! If you feel that you’d benefit from talking to a mental health professional about your current mental state, click over to MyTherapist to check out their online counseling services. Speaking to a counselor is a great way to improve your mental health as well, and you’re also likely to feel very proud of yourself for reaching out to get the help you need.
4. Nourish your body.
It’s easy to turn to junk food and sweets when you’re not feeling 100% mentally, but providing your body with nutritious (and delicious) food is much more beneficial. There are many foods that even have direct links to mental health benefits! Try adding some fresh fruit, nuts, eggs, fish, or dark chocolate to your diet. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. If you have time, try cooking a new recipe; creating a meal can be very rewarding, not to mention delicious.
5. Set goals.
One of the best things to do when you want to improve your mental health is to take a look at where you’re at currently and where you want to be. Set goals and write them down, but don’t leave it at that! You’ll also want to write out concrete plans to achieve your goals, breaking them down into realistic steps that you’ll actually be able to follow through on. With a plan clearly laid out, it’ll be much easier to move towards the life you want to have. Plus, the process of identifying and setting goals is very empowering and can help you identify your passions and purpose!
The Bottom Line
It’s completely normal to feel that your mental health isn’t quite at its best sometimes. Thankfully, there are plenty of easy actions you can take each day to nurture and improve your mental state. Try adopting an attitude of gratitude or writing in a gratitude journal, engaging in movement or exercise, connecting with people you care about, providing your body with the nutrition it needs, and setting goals along with plans to reach them. Although these activities are simple and don’t take a long time to complete, they can have amazing effects on your mindset and overall mental health, especially if you choose to maintain these habits long-term!
About the Author: Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.