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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

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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