best Mental Health Hacks girl with eyes closed

IT’S NOT JUST IN your head. The way we experience our thoughts can affect our emotional and physical health in a major way.  If you frequently find yourself getting stuck in a cycle of negative thinking, self-sabotage, and anxiety, it’s important to learn how to recognize the patterns and actively shift your mindset. These mental health hacks from Food Matters may seem simple, but we encourage you to try them next time you’re feeling down, anxious or overwhelmed…

Headaches? Tension in your back? Tight jaw? Not sleeping well? It sounds like something is playing on your mind. Take your pick of the below mental health hacks to train your mind to find its happy place, no matter what life throws at you. Get ready to rediscover some zen in your life!

Play Time Warp To Gain Perspective.

The majority of what we worry about never actually comes to pass. And when it does, we usually find a way to cope regardless. How do we access this wisdom and perspective with our minds gripped to stress and spiraling out of control?

A simple Time Warp exercise can help you regain this calm perspective:

Reflect back on an incident that happened at least one year ago, in which you felt extremely stressed. Today, how important does this event seem? How does it affect your daily life? How did you find a way to deal with it? Taking this jump back in time can help us remember how resilient we really are when faced with adversity — and realize that our worries are rarely the big deal that our minds make them out to be!

Reconceptualize Your Idea of Stress.

As strange as this sounds, try to give thanks for your stress. It is actually your body and mind alerting you to something that is out of balance in your life. When you feel stress building, give yourself a little pat on the back and thank your body for telling you that something’s wrong.

By giving gratitude to our stress, it can actually help to dampen the stress that seems to compound itself the more we notice it.  In other words, it takes the fear out of fear itself! Remember also that stress doesn’t just arise from negative circumstances. Our bodies and mind can also feel stressed in large, positive events or times of change, such as weddings, promotions or exciting travel. A healthy amount of stress can also hone our concentration and propel us into taking action.

Imagine Your Parallel Universes.

Worrying is a primitive mechanism of self-defense. By fearing negative outcomes, we pause and think twice before taking actions that may endanger us. However, with chronic stress in our safer modern environment, catastrophizing usually offers us more harm than good.

When you find yourself caught up in a mental tale of woe, take a piece of paper and write down your stressful situation. On one side of the paper, write down the very worst outcome that could possibly arise from this stressor (eg you lose your job, become homeless, etc). On the other half, write down the very best imaginable consequences, no matter how ridiculous!

Look at your best-case and worst-case scenarios. This usually demonstrates how far-fetched each outcome is likely to be. In reality, most things in life wind up somewhere in the middle. You can take this another step further. Plan out some proactive steps you can take right now to manifest that middle-ground!

Make The Most Of Some Mind Tricks.

Mindfulness. This buzzword has taken the natural health sphere by storm, and for good reason! Originally an ancient Buddhist practice, mindfulness has powerful modern applications for anxiety and stress. By becoming present in each moment, we can experience our lives fully without expectations or fears of how it should be. Start by paying intentional attention to what you are doing right now, with curiosity and non-judgment.

Break The Circuit. The brain is like a highway and forms well-worn roads of worry that are easy to go down when we feel stressed. When you feel your train of thoughts spiraling down a particularly negative road, mentally and firmly say ‘STOP’ to yourself. Break the circuit immediately after with a distraction that you can absorb yourself in; listen to a favorite song, google your dream holiday or talk a walk around the block – anything that resets your brain in a new direction.

Relax Progressively. Progressive muscle relaxation is a physical tool to release tension in your body and mind simultaneously. Find a peaceful, quiet space and close your eyes. Scrunch up your toes as hard as you can with a deep breath in. Then, release this tension with a long breath out. Progressively work your way up your body, releasing tension as you do so.

Pump Some Positive Tunes.

Music can alter our brain waves and bring on some good vibes very quickly! It can also reduce your heart rate, regulate blood pressure and lower the levels of stress hormones in the blood. Baroque and classical music are especially relaxing, however, any tune that you enjoy is likely to have a positive effect on your levels of stress.

Journal Your Worries ‘Write’ Away.

Writing can be a powerful way to ‘debrief’ from your daily worries and connect deeply with yourself. Physically committing your concerns to paper can also be a mental tool to feel like your thoughts are being cleared from your headspace and taken off your shoulders. Some people like to write uninhibited about whatever comes to mind, whilst others prefer a more structured account of their day. You may simply prefer to keep a journal listing things you are grateful for. Whatever you feel more drawn toward is likely to help you clear your mind and access solutions and clarity around the things that are weighing you down.

Hold Your Breath… And Let It Out.

When we feel stressed, our bodies tend to breathe shallowly or gulp in more air than we expel. Therefore, if we practice long, slow and deep breathing, it is virtually impossible to feel stressed as this is in complete opposition to a physiological state of stress. Two of my favorite ways to de-stress and revitalize is deep breathing and kundalini yoga sequence.

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs. 

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