Everyone’s mental health journey is personal and unique, but sometimes it helps to hear from someone else what worked for them. Here are the top five changes I made in my life that helped me boost happiness and improve mental health.
1. You are what you eat
I’ve never exactly been a clean eater. I grew up on Kraft macaroni and grilled cheese sandwiches, and I’ve always been terrified of most items in the produce section. But when I started feeling down, I started to think much more carefully about the food I put into my body.
Food is fuel, and the chemical makeup of different foods can fuel you in different ways. This also means that food can affect your mood. The biggest culprits to a bad mood include skipping meals or loading up on refined carbohydrates like sugar. And I was partaking in both of these activities.
It’s no joke, you really are what you eat.
One of the best first steps I took was to refocus on my meals. I had to learn to make some changes and open my mind to new foods in order to improve the quality of life.
If you want to get technical, try adding more complex carbohydrates with soluble fiber to your meals. These will help slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and increase serotonin. These foods will help you feel better and decrease mood swings.
Also, please, don’t make the mistake that I made of consistently skipping meals. I used to treat a cup of coffee as a lunch meal and pretty much ignore food until dinner time.
If you deprive yourself of food you’ll feel exhausted and irritable. Keep eating healthy and often, and it will help you feel better inside out.
2. Your vibe is your tribe
Imagine you’re sitting in the waiting room at your doctor’s office. There are a few other people around who have been there longer than you. You check your watch and you’re five minutes past your appointment, but it’s no big deal because you have nothing else to do.
Then everyone else in the room starts going up to the front desk and complaining. People get irritable. Feet are tapping. Watches are being checked over and over again. A woman tells the receptionist she has to leave because she can’t wait another 15 minutes past her appointment. With all the anger in the room, you’re more likely to start getting angry too. This is how life works.
The people you surround yourself with making a large impact on your own personal energy.
If you have a friend who always makes the worst out of situations and complains about everything, you’re going to be more likely to carry a negative energy yourself.
It’s no easy task to have to say goodbye to toxic friendships, but it’s crucial to your own personal mental health and happiness.
Along the way, yes, there have been people I’ve had to say goodbye to. Energy-drainers are not worth your time. You know it’s true.
This goes along with all parts of your life: personal, school, work… and even social media. Be wary of who you’re following and how it makes you feel while you’re scrolling through your feed. If you’re still following an ex or a friend you’ve had to eliminate from your life, it’s time to say goodbye to the virtual version of them too.
When you clean up the energy around you, it will help allow your own positive energy to flourish.
3.Gaze into the future, but live in the present
Learning to find an effective balance between ‘then and now’ is vital to a happy life.
First, find moments in life that you can’t wait to live through. Something to look forward to. This could be the next time you see your family, an upcoming friend’s birthday, or seeing your favorite artist perform live. Write these down on a calendar and get excited to count down the days. This will give you the motivation to get through your toughest weeks.
It’s always exciting to have moments to look forward to, but it’s also important to enjoy each moment you live in never taking it for granted.
Don’t get so caught up in the future that you forget about the now. Add little moments of joy in your day like sitting and reading a book in your favorite coffee shop or taking your dog to the park for a night stroll.
Finding the small, precious moments in life will help you gain a more positive outlook.
4. Get out of your rut
Nothing is more boring than living the same day on repeat seven days a week.
While some people crave routine, it’s also important that you break it every now and then so you don’t fall into living life on autopilot, which is the opposite of mindfulness.
What are the parts of your day that you dread the most? Identify them and change them.
For me, I was tired of driving the same route every day to and from work without expanding my range of living. Simple solution: find a new path.
I also planned more adventures and became less afraid of going places on weeknights. Grocery shopping on Sunday mornings is boring, so I switched it to Monday nights.
Don’t be afraid to shake things up. It may just save your mood.
5. Getting into healthier lifestyle habits
Eating better, surrounding yourself with people that are of better influence on your life, and getting out of your boring routine are great starts to turning your mental health around, but if you’re really in the dark cave and can’t get out just yet, you’re going to have to make some major changes.
Are you regularly low on energy and groggy? This could be because of the foods you’re eating, or it could be a sign that you aren’t getting quality consistent sleep.
Make sure you’re setting a routine that allows you to get 7-9 hours of rest each night.
If you have trouble sleeping, try natural remedies like a warm bath with essential oils or a cup of herbal tea. If you try everything and still can’t sleep, you may need to do research for a better mattress. It’s not just a myth. Mattresses really do sag and lose responsiveness after 7-10 years, making you lose quality sleep. Your sleep each night is vital to restoring your body and mind. Don’t forget to pay attention to it.
Speaking of nighttime, how are you filling your evenings?
Do you cherish your time at home after work, or do you numb your mind out by watching tv? Learn to maximize your evenings during the week rather than waste them away.
Find a hobby you enjoy whether that be an at-home activity like painting artwork or going out to a fitness class. It’s proven that physical activities help your mental health, so it may be worth it to start paying more attention to your fitness routine.
Overall, the best thing you can do to boost your happiness and is put yourself first. Think practically about what’s best for you and what you need to do to practice better self-care.