Ever seen a happy, spunky person with the flu or an energetic person struggling with depression and anxiety?
May is the Mental Health Awareness Month which gives us the opportunity to take a look at the different ways you can keep your mental health in check and stay at peak performance in your life and career.
It can be easier to find fault in the things we don't appreciate or want in our lives than to see beyond them to the positives. Especially if we feel we are being overwhelmed by adverse events or circumstances. While we all have negative thoughts now and then, being consistently negative can have significant impacts on your life. Leveraging gratitude is one way to find the good in our day-to-day lives.
Negative thinking has been connected to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, chronic worry, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This isn't to say that you should ignore the bad things that happen because they do happen. However, challenges create opportunities so the next time you experience a setback, ask yourself, "What is another way I can look at this?" because there is where you will find a solution rather than staying focused on the problem.
Physical exercise is not just good for the body. It's good for your mental health, too. Experts say regular exercise distracts you from problems and releases "feel good" chemicals in the brain, boosting energy and confidence.
If you're among those who have rationalized reasons not to be physically active, consider that exercise doesn't always mean jogging a mile or lifting weights. There are simple, practical ways to incorporate a daily physical fitness routine into your life, such as going for a nice walk.
Restorative sleep is vital to good mental health. Experts say that individuals who experience sleep disruption also experience impaired thinking and emotional regulation. Of course, how many of us have experienced the grumpiness that comes from not getting enough sleep? Even mentally healthy individuals can suffer from lack of quality sleep so it's important to make sure you are doing all you can to get a good night's sleep to face the day with energy and excitement.
Believe it or not, your posture can be affecting your mental health. Studies have shown that standing tall and proud, shoulders back, ready to face the world creates a sense of power and self-confidence. Even more remarkable is that one recent study found that an "upright posture may increase positive affect, reduce fatigue, and decrease self-focus in people with mild-to-moderate depression."
It can be tempting to worry about something that hasn't happened (we all do it at some point) or to have regret or guilt over something that already has happened. And while these emotions are natural parts of everyone's lives, constant worry and/or regret will negatively impact your thinking, your mental health, your performance, and your happiness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being in the moment. What has happened is done. What hasn't happened, may never happen. The only real moment that exists is the one we are in right now. Research has shown that individuals who practised meditation regularly for five years had more significant areas of the brain associated with emotional regulation. Exercises like breathing, yoga, and meditation are used to practice mindfulness and call our minds back to the moment where we can act, rather than staying stuck in what has or has not happened.
Incorporating these practices in your daily life is bound to make you feel more confident, resilient, and ready to take on whatever challenges come your way.
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