If you’ve been following along for the past few weeks, this blog has featured simple ways to get out of a funk and gain a fresh perspective on life. Read on for the third and final segment of this series.
Focusing on transgressions from the past or fears about the future is a surefire way to increase anxiety. The fact the you cannot change the past or predict the future can add to the overwhelming feeling of being powerless and “stuck.” This is why it is helpful to make contact with the present moment—where you are living now. You can practice this mindfulness by simply paying attention to your emotions and the sights, sounds, smells and sensations that are occurring in the current moment. Observe your thoughts; when you notice that they are beginning to turn to the past or present, bring your attention back to what is going on around you.
This mental health hack is simple, but important. It is common to neglect basic self-care when feeling burnt-out, depressed or exhausted. Inadequate water intake can exacerbate these symptoms and cause increased feelings of being unwell. Engaging in tasks to increase mental health can seem daunting, but if nothing else, commit to drinking one glass of cold water to provide your system with an immediate boost.
Similar to food and water, your body needs vitamin D for energy. Increased amount of time indoors and inadequate diet can cause deficiencies in this nutrient. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are headache, fatigue, depression and sore joints and muscles. Add more to your diet by taking supplements; increasing time in the sun and eating foods such as salmon, tuna, mushroom and egg yolks.
Everybody gets into a funk now and then. It is important not to criticize yourself for feeling down; sometimes it is just your body’s way of signaling that it needs something new. You can always start small by focusing on doing just one thing. Consistency is key—a new behavior will become easier the more often it is practiced. Try building these habits today and experience the significant benefits of these small changes.
– Carolyn Moriarty, LPC
The last blog post introduced simple ways to improve mental well-being when you get stuck in an emotional rut. If you enjoyed those tips, read on for more mental health hacks on how to get “unstuck” and start moving forward again.
- Determine what needs to change
When life becomes monotonous, you may get the nagging feeling that something is “missing”. The hard part of course is figuring out what that something is. According to William Glasser’s “Choice Theory”, humans have five basic needs: survival, belonging, competence, freedom and fun. You can read the first tip on the previous blog post to learn more about the importance of “survival” (having what you need to feel physically safe and healthy). The rest of Glasser’s needs essentially state that people are happiest when they feel like they are living up to the optimal version of themselves. This boils down to the extent to which they are able to: feel competent in their profession, build meaningful connections, have a sense of agency and learn new things that interest them. If you feel like something is “missing”, reflect upon what aspects of your personal development may benefit from additional attention. Start by taking small, achievable steps and build momentum from there.
Making a tangible, concrete change can be a quick way to give yourself the feel of a “fresh start”. Because interior space often reflects emotional state, a good place to start is rearranging the furniture in your bedroom. “Cleansing” your wardrobe and donating clothes that aren’t working for you is another way to boost peace of mind and optimism. If organizing sounds like too much energy, you can focus on self-care changes such as trying out a brand-new haircut, makeup or hairstyle.
If you are feeling down on yourself, being social probably doesn’t feel like a top priority. While it is important to take some downtime by yourself, be mindful that it is not turning into a pattern of isolation. Being in quarantine may technically mean you are physically isolated, but that is all the more reason to reach out to a friend or loved one through video or phone. Keep the conversation light if you do not have the energy to talk about all your emotions. Sometimes, having a good laugh can give you exactly the boost you need.
Give these “hacks” a try and feel free to leave a comment and share your own go-to coping skills! Stay tuned for more posts on how to be your optimal self.
– Carolyn Moriarty, LPC
The effects of physical, mental and emotional fatigue are real. This burnout can seriously impair your concentration, energy, confidence, decision-making—just about everything that makes you feel like “you”. This can be a slippery slope considering that the deeper you fall into the rut, the more difficult it feels to claw your way out.
The good news is that getting “unstuck” does not need to be a superhuman feat. Slowly building new habits can provide a fresh perspective and provide the momentum you need for tackling bigger tasks. Read the following mental heath hacks for guidance on how to re-boot your life.
Nobody can be productive if their basic needs are not being met. This includes things like sleep, nutrition, exercise and hygiene. Focus on small actions that can trigger bigger habits. For instance, drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning will prevent dehydration and make it more likely that will continue making healthier choices. Committing to walking for 10 minutes outside each morning can get you into the habit of physical activity, which can lead to more energy to increase the amount of time you spend exercising.
- Acknowledge your thoughts
Worry is a huge energy drain. Much of the time, you are likely not even aware that you are engaging in ruminations because the thoughts often come automatically. These automatic thoughts are usually self-critical or future-oriented: “I’m so lazy”, “I’ll never accomplish my goal”. Many people mistakenly believe that the solution here is to “just be better” at not focusing on those negative thoughts. The thing is, criticizing yourself for being too self-critical only perpetuates the rumination cycle. Rather than resist the anxiety, intentionally confront and acknowledge the worry “it is possible that I could lose my job. Anything could happen. I can’t predict the future”. Acknowledging your thoughts will not change reality for the worse or better, but it will free up mental energy that you can now spend on something more productive.
- Follow the five second rule
Procrastination can be the biggest threat to productiveness. Quickly checking your email before starting a project can lead into spending hours on social media. It has been said that you can talk yourself out of anything in five seconds. The next time you find yourself resisting going for a walk or doing laundry, give yourself to the count to five and then get moving without giving your actions a second thought. This can give you the “push” you need to start a task, which is usually the most difficult part.
Remember that everyone gets stuck in a rut every now and then. Don’t spend precious time and energy criticizing yourself for “failing” to live up to your standards, just focus on the small things you are able to control. Try these tips and look for mental health hacks coming soon!
– Carolyn Moriarty, LPC