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5 Mental Health Hacks

5 Mental Health Hacks

Fall is a foreboding time for people with mental health issues. It means that winter, the coldest, darkest and often most depressing season, is on its way. You need all the mental health hacks you can find to help you through that tough period. There are a lot of things I’ve learned on my own through my trials as someone with mental health issues, and I thought I would share them here. Below are the five mental health hacks that have had very positive impacts on my life and livelihood.

1. Put medication in an obvious place

Taking your medication at the right time radically changes how you feel for the rest of the day. Since forgetting to take it has huge consequences, put it somewhere you know you won’t miss it. That can be on your sink next to your eyewear, in the cupboard next to the cereal, in your car or at your office. It’s amazing how easily a horrid day can be avoided with a few small pills.

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2. Ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to be happier

It sounds obvious that you should figure out ways to improve our spirits, but our culture is more geared to the abstract concept of “success” than the more easily definable happiness. If you’re feeling unhappy, you should simply think about why you’re unhappy and see what you can do to remove what’s causing you distress. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) gets in the way of my well-being, but when I recognize that I’m able to force myself to not be as concerned with the organization of my bookshelf and just do what I really want to be doing. Pinpoint what’s causing you angst, and spend some time thinking about how you can avoid it.

3. Surround yourself with things that make you happy

This is another seemingly obvious trick, but it is not as frequently used as it should be. The bookshelf in my home office is home to my favorite and most uplifting books (mostly all-ages stories) as well as plush toys of some of my all-time favorite characters. An empty workspace or bedroom or living room is depressing. Decorate it with bobble heads of you favorite entertainers, pictures of your family and friends, etc.  There is a plethora of memorabilia and mementos out there that will remind you of what’s good in life.

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4. Make a list of ways you can feel better

I have a relatively long list saved into a document of what I can do to feel better, divided into two sections. One is the obvious stuff, like taking my meds and supplements, eating healthy and exercising. The other section is devoted to media that puts me in a cheery mood, such as the alway-positive, always-hilarious Parks and Recreation and my favorite movie about young adults with mental health issues It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Take an hour or two to figure out what puts you in good spirits so that you can turn to that list when you’re feeling down.

5. Keep a well-being journal

By tracking how you’re feeling throughout the day you can identify what is causing your emotional dips. A digital diary like Evernote or plain old pen and paper can prove invaluable in documenting what puts you in a negative mode, helping you understand what you can do differently in the future.

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There you go. A few quick tips on how your mental health can possible improve in a dramatic way. They’ve done quite a bit to make my life better and more hopeful. I hope they work for you as well as they’ve worked for me!

Featured photo credit: Nathan Csonka via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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