There seem to be so many things around us that bring us stress, anxiety, sadness, frustrations, or all of the other negative emotions that people seem to be having in excess lately.
Whether it be the latest news of wars, being stuck at home because of this blasted pandemic, or other forms of doom and gloom that the media loves to shove down our throats, there is always something that is trying to drag us down into a pit of uncertainty.
And don’t think we can just blame all of our problems on others. Everyone loves to point fingers and confidently declare, “It’s their fault!” However, that is simply not true. It is just a poor attempt at not taking responsibility and accountability for ourselves.
Having stress, anxiety, and other forms of negative mental health problems are generally brought upon ourselves by ourselves. Of course, don’t take this the wrong way. There are people who actually have anxiety, depression, and mood disorders who need a bit more than some idiot (me) on the internet to give him advice.
Despite those people, I would wager the majority of people who suffer from these issues do not have a clinical problem. They simply are living a lifestyle that the human body and human mind were never designed for.
Or, they are unaware of all the tactics things around you are doing to manipulate, scare, and put that anxiety in you. Beauty companies want you to think you are ugly, fitness companies want you to think you are fat, and the news wants you to think you are going to die.
However, this isn’t a hopeless situation. There is a lot you can do to make your life a whole lot more peaceful. I think after all that’s been going on, we could all use a bit of peace and quiet. We’ve earned it…
I bet you think I’m going to go no some long rant about “phone bad, book good!” Well, there may be some merit to that, however, that is not the topic of this piece of advice. Instead, I’m am going to talk about starting your day.
I don’t think it is that much of a stretch to say that a vast majority of people (in developed countries) start their day by looking at their phones. Whether it be scrolling through Instagram, answering texts, or watching Tik Toks.
However, as Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Hubermann will explain, this is a very bad way for us to start our days. He explains in a talk that what causes people to slowly lose their enjoyment of things, is having too much easy access to pleasure.
He also explains (much better than I could) how when you first wake up in the morning, your brain is in a mode for being able to receive information. However, your brain is also still trying to finish tidying up the information you were organizing while you sleep.
This creates a problem where if you start to scroll through your social media feed, or you check out the news, it can have a big impact on your day. Both by giving your brain possible stressful information when it is “vulnerable” and by giving you a dopamine rush right at the get go.
To quote the wise Dr. Andrew, “Addiction is a progressive narrowing of the things that give you pleasure.” We can get addicted to anything, and as much as people like to roll their eyes as it, most people are addicted to their phones.
So, simply starting your day by rejecting that immediate dopamine rush can be a big boost to both your day and your overall life quality. You will be able to find the pleasure in the other things you enjoy, and slowly you will see that you enjoy more and more things.
Sure, just not using your phone for the first hour of your day isn’t enough to do that change by itself, but it is a great start. I would suggest looking into more of Dr. Andrew Hubermann’s talks, I really think they can improve your life for the better.
Another big thing that can be the source of many of your mental health troubles is not exercising. Whether or not you want to build muscle or burn fat, exercising is simply one of the biggest things that I can personally say has improved my mental health.
People are meant to move around. Sitting about (or lying about) is not how we were meant to spend our days. Even if you feel like you are accomplishing a lot with your work, there is something about physically moving around that gives a sense of satisfaction.
Most likely, it is that we know what is healthy for us. When we eat a lot of junk food we feel bad. When we laze around a lot we also don’t feel so hot.
However, when you take that initiative and do a workout, it makes you feel like you accomplished something that is making you better. You are doing something to improve your health, and you know in your entirety that what you did was good for you, no tricks!
As many will tell you, mental health and physical health are like two sides of a coin. Yin and Yang. Sun and Moon. They simply go together and cannot be without the other. An unbreakable pair.
The more unhealthy you are physically, the more it will chip away at your mental health. This will then lead to you not being mentally well, which will affect your physical health. See how this becomes a bit of a vicious cycle?
Don’t worry, you don’t need to start becoming a muscle head who spends his afternoons pumping iron in the gym for fun. However, doing a short, but challenging, exercise routine every day, or at least every other day on a somewhat regular schedule would be advised.
Humans are very social creatures. No matter how introverted you say you are, there must be at least one person that you like to spend time with. Believe me, we all have those certain people that we just like to be around.
It’s very natural for us to crave feeling connected to other people. Now, more than ever, we can trick ourselves into thinking we are being social when we really lack the deep connections and relationships that we desire.
For example, social media. Posting and discussing things on forums and threads can be very fun for some people. It’s like a big conference room with minds from around the globe! But.. and there is always a but… it simply cannot replace a true in person connection.
You need to be able to build connections with people and feel like you have those who can support you when you need them.
A big thing for people to do now is play games online with each other, whether it be coop video games, a fun game of Everygame poker with friends, or some other online activity that you and your buds can join in on.
The truth is, although those activities can be really fun (and can be social as well!) it is sort of a cheap side step to the true solution. We need to spend time in person, with real people, who we can see face to face and connect to.
So, try a bit harder to spend time with your friends! Maybe you don’t feel up to it, but if you give it a try, you might find that you just needed to get a little push. Find the people you can be with through thick and thin, and it will help your mental health a great deal. Nobody likes to feel alone. It’s a big universe out there…
Sleeping in can feel heavenly sometimes. And getting enough sleep is certainly more than a worthy cause. However, sleeping in too late can also be bad for you.
Sleeping too much has been linked to many health problems such as an increased risk for diabetes, increased risk for heart disease, increased risk for stroke, and possibly just simply increased risk for mortality.
However, it is important to note that this is a big case of correlation and not necessarily causation. There are a lot of other factors that go into what could be causing someone to sleep more that could lead to those issues as well.
However, something that is a bit more objective, is that I find oversleeping to simply get you off on a bad foot. When you start your day late, it can sometimes feel like you wasted your time. Time wasting is probably one of the biggest causes of stress and anxiety and feelings of depression.
When people (in my personal experience) feel like they spent their day not accomplishing anything, it can ruin their mood. We like to feel like we did something good with our time. Endless monotony in life can begin to drag us down and tear away at our psyche.
So, even if there aren’t any specifically provable health downsides to sleeping in, it’s good for us to try and start our days as strong as we can. Better to go to bed early, and wake up early, than go to bed very late and wake up very late.
But, the person who knows you best is you. If you work better on a night owl schedule then by all means go for it. But, for those of us who dwell in the daylight, keeping a schedule that matches the sun tends to be more natural, and therefore more what we are designed for.
Not Being Yourself
Every person is unique in their own little ways. Even if you are someone cynical that says all people act in predictable ways, the specific combination of those things that make up a person is going to be unique. No two people are exactly alike.
However, what those cynical people see as people being able to be defined and boxed into different categories is really just a lack of realization on our part. The fact that sometimes, we try too hard to fit in with other people, we start to lose who we really are.
You can see this happen a lot, especially in young people in schools. They tend to form into groups where everyone starts to act and dress similarly. People simply want to feel connected to each other.
However, when we give up a bit of ourselves for the sake of others, we are hurting our mental health. This is because In order to fit in with others, you have to judge yourself, and most likely judge yourself in a very critical way.
If you were to be honest with yourself, did you ever not do something you wanted to, or do something you didn’t want to because of how you thought other people would react to it? Did you ever want to dress some way but didn’t because you thought other people would think you’re weird?
I think we are all guilty of this in some way or another. Nobody wants to feel like people are staring at them behind their backs, so we try to keep low and blend it.
But, we all have beautiful and special parts to us that make us unique! Don’t look at others and compare yourself to them! You may not be able to be them, but you shouldn’t want to be! They can also never be you!
When we let go of the shackles of worrying about what other people think, it leaves us finally free to think about what we think. That is the first step to finding some inner peace from all this turmoil. Just simply let yourself say what you think to yourself, instead of worrying about what others say.