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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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