The pandemic came out of nowhere and swept across the entire world. All of us were consumed with fear, panic, and worry. Other than the health hazard that COVID-19 brought forward, there was another challenge that we went through. The psychological impact that resulted in obnoxiously elevated levels of stress or anxiety. As our daily routines or livelihoods changed, we succumbed to loneliness, depression, substance abuse, and self-harming behaviour. Even when the lockdown was relaxed, and we could meet our loved ones again, the trauma remained. As you adjust and resume your daily life prior to the pandemic, trying your best to do away with the negative feelings, practising a set of positive and uplifting activities can actually help you to regain your mental peace, stability, and fitness at a much faster pace.
Studies have found that women are more susceptible to chronic stress than men. However, there are plenty of activities that you can indulge in to rid yourself of negative influences. Be it tiny changes in daily routine or massive shifts in lifestyle, find out which activities will absorb the anxiety and push you towards having a peaceful mental space.
5 Everyday Activities To Improve Your Mental Health
1. Practising Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are statements that highlight all the good things that you possess and are lined up for you. Positive affirmations have the ultimate power to transform lives as they help you to overcome challenging phases in life and do away with self-destructive thought patterns. Make a list of at least 10 positive affirmations pertaining to your life, and as soon as you start repeating them on a regular basis, you will see the results. It shapes and restructures your belief system and self-perception. They play a significant role in therapy and are a part of several rehabilitation programs. Positive affirmations generate optimistic thoughts and emotions within us, changing our physiological and mental health. Positive affirmations need regular practice if you want to get long-term results.
Here are 7 positive affirmations that you can practise:
- I am worthy of love and I deserve to be happy.
- Each day is filled with innumerable possibilities and opportunities.
- I have so many things to be grateful for and I am done dwelling on negative thoughts.
- I hold no grudges against anyone and will not compare my life with anyone’s.
- I will not blame myself as everything happens for a reason.
- I have flaws, but I accept myself and working on to be a better person.
- I am strong, confident and stand by my principles.
2. Gratitude Journaling
Gratitude journaling typically involves you penning down your reasons to be thankful and happy in life. Numerous studies have shown that gratitude journaling can increase one’s happiness, improving their overall health and well-being. As we think hard and write down the reasons to be happy about on that particular day, our brain works miraculously to disconnect us from toxic and negative thoughts, shifts our focus on positive emotions and makes you self-aware. Researches highlight that people who practice gratitude journaling feel happier and more satisfied in life. You gain a new perspective of what is important and working in your favour, making you truly appreciate its worth. The times when you feel down, flip through the pages of your journal and get reminded of all the reasons you can be grateful for. Make it a habit to journal every night before going to bed. Set an alarm if possible. Pen down 5-7 things each day to be happy about. The reasons don’t have to be too big; they can be as small as having a tasty pudding prepared by your mom or something along the lines.
For thousands of years, meditation has been linked with something sacred, a way of connecting to the greater forces and inner self. However, in recent times, meditation is used for relaxation and as a stress buster. Meditation improves your cognitive abilities, relaxes your mind, and streamlines jumbled up thoughts. Some other benefits of meditation include reduction of negative emotions, improvement in patience and tolerance, coping with stress. Several studies have indicated a positive impact of meditation in reducing stress and enhancing general wellbeing. They have also suggested that meditation can be helpful for the treatment of anxiety, addiction, aggression, suicidality and depression. You can try various types of meditation such as mantra, mindfulness, movement, transcendental and more.
4. Diaphragmic Breathing
Diaphragmic breathing, which is also popularly known as belly breathing, involves inhaling deeply engaging the stomach, abdominal muscles, and diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large muscle that is located at the base of the lungs. This breathing exercise helps in strengthening the diaphragm as you take deeper breaths, relieving stress. You can practice this breathing exercise for 5–10 minutes a day at least.
- Lie down on a flat surface and keep a pillow under your head and another one below your knees.
- Place one hand on the middle of the upper chest and the other hand on your stomach, right above the diaphragm.
- Slowly take deep breaths, the stomach should move upwards as the chest remains still.
- While exhaling, tighten the abdominal muscles as the stomach falls downward. Ensure that the chest remains still.
A walk around the neighbourhood or a quick trip to the gym can improve your mood in no time. Exercising produces endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones that relieve stress. There is an array of exercises that can calm you down, improve your overall physical health, take your mind off worries, and most importantly, can lead to social interaction. Exchanging friendly greetings can also help elevate your mood. If you’ve ever gone for a run after a stressful day, chances are you felt better afterwards. Research shows that exercise can also help alleviate long-term depression. When we’re spooked or threatened, our nervous systems jump into action, setting off a cascade of reactions such as sweating, dizziness, and a racing heart. People with heightened sensitivity to anxiety respond to those sensations with fear. Regular workouts might help people prone to anxiety become less likely to panic when they experience those fight-or-flight sensations. Some researchers suspect exercise alleviates chronic depression by increasing serotonin (the neurotransmitter targeted by antidepressants) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (which supports the growth of neurons). Another theory suggests exercise helps by normalizing sleep, which is known to have protective effects on the brain.
As you navigate through various responsibilities in your daily lives, you sometimes tend to lose control of our stress levels. These activities will help you to prioritize your psychological and physical wellness. Stress restricts our immune system from working at full capacity, making us susceptible to numerous conditions. Introduce yourself to these healthy activities and balance your life with ease.