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5 Easy Tips To Improve Your Mental Health

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5 Easy Tips To Improve Your Mental Health

We are living in a hectic world where things seem to happen at a fast rate and require more of our thinking power to adapt to the changing environment. Therefore, it is important to take care of yourself by specifically improving your mental health. Each day, there are many easy tasks to perform which will allow you to maintain and enhance your mind and wellness and have lots of benefits later.

When you take care of your mind, you can make better decisions, think more clearly, feel more optimistic, create and maintain better relationships, sleep more peacefully, and generally feel cheerful. The question is who would not want these achievements?

Below are some of the five easy tips to improve your mental health.

1. Make healthy choices

It is very easy to relieve your hunger pangs by taking a snack, but simply interchanging food can help your mind stay more focused throughout the day. Nutritionists advise that swapping food that is moderate in protein, high in fiber, and low glycemic index, regulates food appetite and consumption.

For instance, a good example of a healthier snack is eating a fresh fruit and raw nuts. It is possible to train and persuade your brain to get stimulated about vegetables and to have no pleasure when you consume junk or sugary foods.

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You can achieve this by changing your eating behavior over time, and training your brain to desire healthier foods. Extensive research has found that the brain functions best with 25 grams of fruit sugars in the body.

Therefore, try training your brain by eating a fruit rather than a packet of crisps mid-morning. Sooner, your brain will get used to this eating habit and desire a fruit around that time.

Also, never forget to drink water too. Keeping your body hydrated can increase brain power by up to 20 percent. Always ensure you carry water in a bottle all the time since you will always remember to sip more often especially when you have a lot of work.

2. Have some quiet time

Our surroundings have too much noise since there are so many activities taking place around us that we lack enough resting time. When we are outdoors, we are surrounded by cars hooting and public noises from people, or the general hustle of the environment. On the other hand, when we are indoors such as being in an office, we are surrounded by noises from conversations, typing, telephones, printers, etc. Inside our houses too, we have the noises from TVs or Radios.

Out of all these distractions, when will our minds ever have peace or rest during the day?

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Getting some quiet time through relaxation in a quiet room can produce miracles for our mental health. Doing so will create focused  thoughts during the day. You can even practice some meditation since it encourages mental health.

The best way to maintain a quiet time to boost mental health is attempting some relaxation exercises. These include prayer, deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness practices and even short naps at mid-day.

3. Avoid stress

There are many forms of stress. People do not even realize they suffer from stress, but the buildup of small and regular negative thoughts and energy could contribute a negative impact on your mental and even physical health.

Stress can cause poor mental health in various disorders such as such as depression and anxiety, personality changes, bipolar disorder, problem behaviors, cognitive (thinking) problems, etc.

Apart from poor mental health, stress can also cause extreme fatigue, negative feelings, hair loss, infertility, muscle pains, weight loss/gain, and poor functioning of internal organs. Always try and find out what could be the leading causes of stress in your life. You can easily find out by assessing your environment.

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Later, try to change the possible causes of stress where you can. Most of the above stress causes can easily be solved by making small, positive changes by avoiding the what triggers them. For instance, it’s hard to avoid distractions from the office such as work colleagues very often. However, you may make a conscious decision to leave the office during lunchtimes and take a walk or rest in a quiet place in the fresh air on your own.

4. Keep your mind active

Using your computer or watching the TV after work every evening can have some benefits occasionally. But generally, combining your monotonous habit with something that maintains an active mind is an excellent way to stay sharp.

For instance, try playing with crosswords or puzzles, reading a book or solving a jigsaw. Many people decide involving themselves in gaming as a way of improving brain power. Games induce excitement, releases positive emotions that keep the brain active and encourage a sharp mind thus improving mental health.

Studies show that video games improve reaction times by 25 percent! Simple games like bingo can improve your reactions, create a lively mind and relieve stress. These days due to advanced technology, you can obtain lots of game applications on a tablet or phone which are available online.

5. Talk about it

If you have something or a problem on your mind, it does wonders when you get it off your chest. It is worth remembering that seeking help indicates strength, not weakness. It has been said that a problem half shared is a problem half solved.

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When you hold back negative or hurting thoughts such as anger, your mental health is prone to suffer. You will experience stress and tension, and you might also lack sleep at night. These feelings can build up so quickly, causing a seemingly desperate state in which you cannot avoid such as depression or stomach ulcers.

Fortunately, there is always a way out and help available, and it is never as hard as it appears to find a solution. You can also conquer any issues you have with patience, time, acceptance, understanding, and support.

Featured photo credit: Lena Bell via stocksnap.io

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Alex Johnson

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Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

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How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

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After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

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Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

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Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

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Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

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