Tag Archives: stress management

Mental Health Life Hacks (Part 3)

 

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.  

  • Live in the here and now 

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. 

  • Drink water 

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. 

  • Get vitamin D 

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

Mental Health Life Hacks (Part 2)

 

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. 

  • Make a physical change 

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. 

  • Make a connection 

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

Reduce Anxiety in 1 minute or less

 

Anxiety and panic attacks are scary experiences. In the moment, they can feel all-consuming and trick you into believing that they will never end. The good news is that panic attacks typically only last about 10 minutes and are very treatable with the proper mental health support. Since it is difficult to think logically when your body is going through this fight-or-flight response, you may be unable to identify what steps to take in order to gain immediate relief from anxiety and panic attacks in the short-term.

These are some tools you can use to hopefully make them a bit more bearable:

    • Drink a glass of water. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headache and nausea. It is difficult to feel calm when your body and mind are preoccupied with fighting off these unpleasant symptoms. Drinking a cold glass of water may not eliminate anxiety, but will help you feel more alert and focused. Studies have shown that water has natural calming properties. This means that even if you are not dehydrated, the act of drinking water can be soothing and grounding. 

 

    • Hold Ice. Holding an ice cube is a great way to chill out—no pun intended. This is especially helpful if you are in the midst of an anxiety or panic attack. The logic behind this is that the cold feeling forces your brain to divert its attention away from secondary sensations, like anxiety. Try holding an ice cube in the palm of one hand for a few seconds before switching it the other hand. 

 

    • Go outside. Similar to holding ice, going outside and espousing yourself to a different temperature can provide a gentle shock to your system. The fresh air, change of scenery and physical activity of walking can also help to clear your mind and bring your focus back to the present. 

 

    • Deep breathing. Anxiety can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat, which in turn can make you feel even more anxious. Taking deep, controlled breaths can instantly alleviate these physical symptoms. Practice by inhaling though your nose until your stomach is expanded. Pause for a few seconds before exhaling your breath through your mouth while letting all your muscles relax, as if you are taking a big sigh. 

 

    • Repeat a soothing mantra. This is a great one to do alongside deep breathing. Repeating a calming phrase in your head is a way to remind your brain that you are in physical danger. Some examples are “I am safe”, “I will get through this”; “this will not last forever” or “one day at a time”.
 

Remember that these are only temporary solutions to reduce in-the-moment panic and anxiety. If you are struggling with chronic anxiety or excessive worry, seeking mental health treatment can be immensely helpful in providing long-term relief. 

– Carolyn Moriarty, LPC