Have you ever heard that some people “make their own weather?”
That doesn’t refer to actual weather. It refers to a person’s ability to overcome challenges while maintaining a positive outlook or attitude. These are the kind of people who easily adapt to stressful situations. They are optimistic, hopeful and generally happier.
It’s not realistic to think you can go through life with a smile at every moment. Life is difficult, and we all face anxiety and stress. But did you know there are things you can do along the way to help you improve your own “weather?” Here are some great tips to help you improve your mental health, ease your anxiety and alleviate your stress:
What we eat has an impact on how we feel. When you eat unhealthy foods and/or eat too much, do you notice that you feel worse? Improving your diet is key to better mental health. Avoid foods high in fat and move toward fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also look for foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids (these aren’t the same as fat), such as nuts and certain types of fish. Research shows Omega-3s can have a positive impact on mood.
You don’t have to be in the gym for hours a day to benefits from physical activity. A 15-minute walk around the neighborhood, or even around the house, can make a difference. Physical activity stimulates your body and brain and can help you feel better.
Having things in order helps reduce stress and anxiety. Using a calendar or paper notepads can be very useful. If you’re more tech-savvy, there are a number of handy apps for your smartphone or computer that can help you stay on top of your schedule and life.
When a patient tends to dwell on things they can’t control or resolve, I encourage them to turn their attention to the here and now. Worrying about what happened yesterday or might happen tomorrow can increase anxiety and stress. Worrying isn’t good for your mind or body.
Try a massage
Therapeutic massage can ease tension, and make it easier for your body to let go of worries.
Turn on some jams
Music can be great for improving mood. The right tunes can help you feel better, and even motivate you if you need a boost.
Sleep on it
Sleep is a huge factor in mental health. It’s not just quantity of sleep, but also quality. Remove distractions from the bedroom, including electronic devices or TVs. They can interfere with how well you rest.
Control the caffeine
Stimulants like caffeine can induce or intensify stress and anxiety. If you need your caffeine fix (I turn to coffee for mine), limit it to mornings. This also goes for soda, sweet tea and sugary drinks.
I encourage journaling with all my patients for channeling and reducing stress. It helps you get things off your chest, express your feelings and learn from your experiences. It can even help identify things that cause stress, which can be useful for reducing or eliminating them.
Hug a furry friend
People with pets typically have lower stress levels. We’ve even seen in studies that blood pressure can decrease for people when they pet their four-legged friends.
There’s a lot of truth in saying that laughter is the best medicine. Take time to laugh, whether it’s from watching a favorite comedy movie or TV show, stand-up comedian or even fun videos on the Internet. Laughing helps decrease stress hormone levels in your body, and can help “trick” your nervous system, which can help you feel happier.
If you are looking for more advice or help in dealing with stress and anxiety, you can always talk to your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Don’t feel embarrassed or bad about it. If you break a bone or need stitches for a cut, you don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Your psychological health is no different, so do what it takes to improve your mental forecast.