Mental health is not a field that I am an expert in. But as everyone does at some point, I’ve dealt with stress and anxiety for a fair amount of my time. In cases like mine, some days I’m fine and others I am filled with stress and dread. It’s as if everyone around me is moving and I am standing still with my feet cemented to the ground. I wanted to write about some of the strategies/daily things I’ve done to improve my mental state pretty drastically. These may not work for everyone, or maybe some do and some don’t, but the worst thing I’ve found you can do is sit still and let the stresses of your everyday life eat you alive. Find something that works for you and keep doing it. If it helps you stay calm even for a moment or an hour, it’s worth your time.
- Find a happy place- I’m convinced there is a place for everyone where the world kind of stops or slows down and allows us to breathe. For me, it’s the beach. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, or when I feel the anxiety coming on, I take a ride by the beach, get out and just walk on the sand and watch the waves crash. As long as the ocean is able to keep moving, I should be too.
- Take a look at your diet- I’m really guilty of not paying close attention to this, but greasy, no-good-for-you foods and caffeine filled drinks obviously make your body feel both exhausted and hyperactive. It’s not a good combination. I’ve changed my diet the past few months and my mood is likely ten times higher than it was when I didn’t care.
- Work toward a goal- It can be the smallest thing like doing the dishes every day, or drinking a certain amount of water every day or putting the clean clothes away. It fills up the time during each day that your mind usually spends wandering through the dark and anxious places. And, goals are usually set to improve quality of life, so by setting one for yourself you can reduce stress as well as live a happier life. For example, my goal has been reaching a higher level of fitness and achieving weight loss, and I’ve been doing really well. If your overall goal is too large, create mini goals on your way to the larger one.
- Stay active- while we’re on the topic, exercise releases chemicals in your brain that allow you to destress. There are so many different ways to get your body moving including running, yoga, kickboxing, weight lifting and a plethora of other options. Find what works for you and your schedule, and make it something that you look forward to doing.
- Write or draw it out- Keep a journal or start a blog if you want to go more public. Whatever outlet you choose, you’re getting your thoughts out of your head where they can stir around and make you crazy and release them somewhere safe. I keep a journal for the more personal things as well as post on this blog for the thoughts I feel like I can share. You don’t have to be Shakespeare in order to put a pen to paper.
- Find something to relate to- Music has been my biggest comfort since before middle school. You could also choose a TV series, movie, book or something completely different, as long as it gives you an outlet or something to relate to. The best media stress relievers are the ones that help you get through whatever is going on in your life as well as give you the confidence that you’ll get through the next thing too.
- Do what you have to do without embarrassment- If you need professional help, get it. If you have to scream into the void every so often, scream. If you feel like you need to cry, cry it out. Whatever you have to do, do it unapologetically.
Some of these may work for you, or maybe none of them will. Most of them have worked for me, but every person is different and has different ways of coping. Do you have any tips or vices to get you through times of stress and anxiety? Let me know in the comments!