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5 Easy Tips To Improve Your Mental Health

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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Published on November 18, 2019

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

Critical thinking is the art of filtering through information to reach an unbiased, logical decision that guides better thought and action. It can be learned through powerful techniques listed in this article.

Before you read further, it is important for you to know that critical thinking is a state of mind, not a tool or strategy.

If you are bogged down in the trivial day to day matters of your professional and personal life, learning skills to develop your ability to think critically can help you rise above these issues and focus your energies where they are needed – to solve problems and accomplish objectives.

It stands to reason that the better the learning techniques, the better critical thinking and reasoning will be. My experience in helping people grow means I know exactly what is needed to teach critical thinking (hint: it’s not just pondering over the problem).

There are 5 powerful techniques that form the base of critical thinking:

  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Communication
  3. Creativity
  4. Open-mindedness
  5. Problem-solving

Once you learn the techniques listed and start employing them in your daily life, you’ll quickly start to notice a change in the way you approach problems and consequently, how you resolve them too.

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1. Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking is the gathering and breaking down of information into small bites that help make sense of it.

To use it for critical thinking:

  • Be very clear on why you need the information. This is to recognize your limitations and employ foresight to overcome them.
  • Gather information from as many sources as you can: peers and experts, podcasts, relevant literature and any other place you can think of.
  • Rephrase questions multiple times to get different perspectives on data available and possibly arrive at different solutions.
  • Break down the data into factual subsets and relate each to the issue at hand.
  • Think on paper to make new connections. Write, doodle, make mind-maps or use spreadsheets. Data presented visually can help you make new connections make sense of emerging patterns.
  • Tidy up the workplace. Once data has been gathered, your workspace and your brain will both be cluttered with excess information. Neaten the physical space and clear your mind with meditation. The change in focus will help you view the information in a new light, potentially helping you reach newer, better conclusions.

Want more information and tips on adopting this powerful technique? What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success has all the information you need.

2. Communication

Communication is a key technique for critical thinking as it gives you access to the thoughts of people around you.

Data can be communicated through audio and visual means and in many cases, through careful observation of body language:

  • Ask for different points of view and seek justification for the same thing. When you invest in the matter, you will be able to explore all options to reach the best solution.
  • Listening without interrupting and only asking questions or voicing concerns once the speaker is done helps you make better connections.
  • Be 100% focused on a verbal or written discussion, you can better hear/read the opinions of the people involved.
  • Paraphrase the speaker/writer’s point of view and ask for affirmation. This enables you to pay full attention and use the input to think critically.
  • In a meeting, subtle communication cues are given by the body language of fellow attendees. An imperceptible frown, a small nod, pencil tapping etc. will all give you clues to what they are really thinking, just in case their actions are not in sync with their words!
  • Active observation, where you are watching and listening intently helps you know what to make of the information that is being passed around. It gives you clues to the general opinion about the topic under discussion and opens up new possibilities.

The information you gather through such communication will be invaluable in thinking critically to arrive at a decision that is holistic and unbiased.

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3. Creativity

Critical thinking is an art, and like any art form, its lifeblood is creativity. To really learn critical thinking, you need to include elements of creativity in the process!

  • Brainstorm with your team in an all-new location or work-shadow an industry expert to step out of your comfort zone. You could be surprised by the ideas that flow at a picnic or a game of billiards!
  • Gather data and tabulate it in the form of colorful, eye-catching charts, graphs and mind maps. The simple exercise makes your mind bring data together in different ways and presents them so multiple unique conclusions can be reached, giving you the flexibility to choose the best one.
  • Play brain games such as Sudoku or chess to appreciate how different factors can be manipulated to reach a preferred outcome. These games help make connections between previously disconnected nerves, giving your brain the power to find multiple pathways to answering problems.
  • In a similar vein, you can forge new neural connections by learning a new skill, a new language or even a new recipe!

I break down creativity in my other article What is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It. If you want to be good at critical thinking, you need to adopt creativity!

4. Open-Mindedness

It’s easy to say you’re open minded but is your mind really open?

To get an idea,

  • Be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and how these will impact the matter at hand.
  • Hear an opinion that conflicts with your own without forming a response before the opinion is fully voiced.
  • Acknowledge that there may be more than one approach to solving a problem and that they may all be right in some way.
  • Consider your true feelings when you will implement any required changes.
  • Disregard your long-held beliefs and assumptions and let go of habits.
  • Imagine the decision-making factors placed on weighing scales. Are they balanced?

Open-mindedness is a powerful technique for critical thinking. New possibilities can be uncovered, helping you resolve personal and professional matters in a manner that doesn’t frustrate you or alienate the other party.

5. Problem-Solving

Critical thinking is heavily dependent on problem-solving. An effective critical thinker will be a problem solver with the foresight to anticipate roadblocks and negative outcomes, and the experience and presence of mind to resolve them quickly and move on.

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One of the most effective problem-solving methodologies is the 5 Whys Analysis. Invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Motors in the 1950s, it has been used successfully by the automobile giant to get to the root cause of problems.

The idea behind this is simple: start with the end problem and keep asking why until you get to the root cause of it.

The general idea is that asking why 5 times from the effect is enough to get to the cause, hence the name. However, the methodology does not limit the questions to 5, and why can be asked as many times as need to peel away the layers until a satisfactory answer is reached.

To use the 5 Whys Analysis, start off by listing the problem and writing why in front of it. The next point in the list should be answer to the first why with another why in front of it. Continue answering the question asked above followed by a why until you’ve asked the question 5 times and answered it six times. 99% of the time, the last answer will be the root cause of the problem stated in the first point.

For example, consider the a commonly given scenario where a vehicle does not start.

  1. Vehicle will not start. Why?
  2. Battery is dead. Why?
  3. The alternator is not functioning. Why?
  4. The alternator belt has broken. Why?
  5. It was old and worn out. Why?
  6. The car is not maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendation.

By this example, it is clearly demonstrated that 5 whys were asked to reach the root cause of the problem.

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The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

Over the years, the 5 Whys Analysis has been adopted by millions to reach the root cause of their personal and professional problems. Industry giant Six Sigma has also incorporated the 5x Why Analysis in the Analyze phase of their DMAIC methodology.[1]

Final Thoughts

Is critical thinking a new-fangled notion? Not at all. Its history can be traced back to Socrates who questioned commonly held beliefs. This practice was carried forward by leading scholars and thinkers from different times such as Aristotle and Plato, Colet and Moore, Descartes, Galileo and Newton.[2]

Today’s world is dependent on critical thinking to resolve all sorts of issues. It is now indispensable for issues ranging from personal relationships to professional jobs and those involving the global community.

The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly, they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

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Featured photo credit: Mariya Pampova via unsplash.com

Reference

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