Since happiness has no limit to its consumption, we can all give priority to our mental health. “Being calmer”, “feeling less stressed” and “finding happiness” should be more important life goals than “getting a raise”. To make progress towards these goals, here are 15 changes you can make to improve your mental health and happiness.
I had shared “15 things you can do to be happier” with you some time ago, but I wanted to make a version more adapted to current circumstances #confinement with new ideas! I advise you to read these two articles if you need inspiration 🙂 You can also check the “well-being” tab of the menu.
15 changes you can make to improve your mental health and happiness
1/ Integrate meditation into your daily routine.
Surely you know that meditation can help you free your mind. However, meditation is easier said than done because it is not universal. Instead of promising to “start meditating” (because such a vague goal will never come true!), actually include a few minutes of meditation in your daily routine. For example, before breakfast, sit or lie down for a quiet five minutes, put on headphones if necessary and listen to a meditation podcast, a dedicated application or a video on Youtube.
Once you have become accustomed to meditation without devoting extra time or effort to it, you will begin to feel like prolonging this state of well-being. You can then allow 20 or 30 minutes, but don’t set an alarm, you will know internally when you want to stop. However, if you begin to feel that you need to spend extra time and effort on meditation, the practice may not stick (or even begin), even if it is well-intentioned.
Instead of ticking off something else on the to-do list, consider integrating meditation into small moments, into a routine that you have already established.
2/ Say “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry”.
I have a terrible habit of saying “sorry” all the time. I say “sorry” when I need someone to repeat what they said, for example, and I apologize profusely. Although “sorry” is just a word, language can affect the way we think and feel about ourselves. Instead of “sorry”, I make a conscious effort to say “thank you” instead. Saying “thank you for being patient” instead of “sorry I’m late” is another way to practice gratitude to oneself and others. Showing kindness is good for everyone!
3/ Track or mute social media accounts that don’t serve you.
Spend a few minutes this week getting completely detoxed from your social media. Track or mute any accounts that don’t inspire you, make you happy or give you confidence. Eliminate accounts that don’t serve you. Follow people who inspire you and make you want to learn. Find accounts that will remind you to be calm and happy every time you are tempted to scroll through the pictures on your wall.
If our addiction is too strong, do we ask ourselves real questions, does it matter? existential? Instead of looking at other people’s lives, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to go and live our own?
4/ Say “no” when you want to say no.
How many times do you avoid saying “no” when you want to? Do you ever do favours for others when you already feel too thin? Do you agree to work for colleagues when you are too busy but feel the need to prove your work ethic? One of the most powerful things you can do for your mental health is to say what you think and be true to what you need and feel.
Master the art of saying “no”. Say, “I’d like to help you, but right now my schedule is too busy to devote as much time and effort to this task as it deserves” and “I need a night alone tonight, but let’s go out for coffee this weekend” whenever you feel the need to please.
5/ Diffuse essential oils according to your mood.
When you feel stressed, anxious or just in a bad mood, sometimes it’s the little things you do to take care of yourself that make the biggest difference. If you want to de-stress or relax, spread lavender essential oil. If you need more energy or if you want to improve your joy, try peppermint essential oil or citrus essential oils (orange, lemon litée, …).
To cheer up without a diffuser: pat the essential oils on your wrists and temples, or simply breathe in the fragrance from the bottle by taking a few deep breaths.
6/ De-clutter and clean your environment.
Clutter in your environment can translate into clutter in your mind, so spend extra time this week sorting, organizing drawers or rearranging your closet. Once your space seems tidy, make sure it stays that way by making cleaning part of your daily routine, like making your bed every morning.
7/ Wear something you normally keep for special occasions.
Many of us learn to “save” for special occasions. We only wear our beautiful dresses for big events, and we only light the beautiful candles when we entertain people instead of spending an evening alone. But why wait for specific events to make, wear and have the things that make us feel special and better about ourselves? Let yourself go and do things that bring you joy. Open a bottle of champagne on Tuesday, wear your brightest red lipstick to work on Wednesday and don’t wait for special occasions to wear your favourite shoes.
8/ Take time with the people who make you laugh.
“Laughter is the best medicine” is a worn-out cliché we’ve all heard too often, but there’s a lot of truth in that sentence. Studies have been done on the therapeutic benefits of laughter. Laughter releases endorphins that can improve mental health and can also strengthen the community. A sense of belonging is crucial to mental health, so even if you prefer to be alone, take the time to have meaningful (and fun) relationships with the people who bring out the crazy in you. Whether they’re by your side or not, a simple phone call is all it takes!
9/ Devote at least 30 minutes before bedtime to relaxation.
Quality sleep is essential for our mental health, but we all tend to be on our laptop, scrolling through Instagram or watching TV until the minute our head touches the pillow. The problem with the modern lifestyle is that the body needs time to fall asleep. Spend at least 30 minutes before going to bed with no screen, no distractions and no stressors. Take a bath, do some light stretching or sip chamomile tea and read a book, your body will thank you and your sleep will be better.
10/ Taking an interest in others.
Getting out of ourselves makes the biggest difference in our lives. Focusing on the happiness of others immediately makes your problem seem smaller. Even if you feel good about yourself, it’s best to ask someone else how they’re doing (and listen to their answer). Our world is opening up more and more and this also teaches us to put things into perspective.
So be curious about everything and let’s interact! It will be a shared pleasure 🙂
11/ Practice forgiveness.
Forgiveness is seen as beneficial to the person who has made a mistake, which often prevents us from forgiving (because not everyone deserves it). But forgiveness is actually more beneficial for the person who gives it than for the person who receives it. Forgiveness means getting rid of bad feelings that affect us in more ways than we probably think. Try to accept people for who they are, realizing that it is often your expectations, not the actions of others, that disappoint you.
12/ Try the “Choose Again” method when negative thoughts arise.
“Choose Again,” what is it? This is the method that trains the mind to free itself from negative emotions and to focus on the positive. The first step is to notice negative thinking. We all have an inner dialogue and a cycle of thoughts that we hear every day in our mind and which can be self-destructive (“I’m not good enough” and “I’m not as pretty as she is”) or based on worry and stress (“my to-do list is so full that I won’t be able to do everything”).
Once you’ve noticed your negativity, forgive the thought. Then choose a positive sentence or mantra to replace the negative. We have the power to choose the thoughts we want to dominate our actions, beliefs and mental health.
13/ Move your body for 30 minutes every day.
The link between body and mind is powerful, and movement not only stimulates physical health, but also mental health. Try to move your body for only 30 minutes a day. At home, you can do a Hiit class via Youtube or your favourite application, do a yoga class or organize a “dance party” while you prepare dinner. No matter how much time you have, make sure you do a physical activity you look forward to, not a workout you dread.
14/ Begin mindfulness practice by eating.
Mindfulness has taken the world of mental health by storm, and while it is a complex subject, mindfulness is actually quite simple. Being “mindful” means having an open attention to the present moment. Living with mindfulness means focusing on what you are experiencing in the present, without anticipating the future or thinking about the past.
Although mindfulness is used in some types of therapy and meditation, I challenge you to practice mindfulness in the ordinary moments of your day, such as meals. Like intuitive eating, mindful eating can help you not only take control of your eating habits, but is a practice that helps improve your overall mental health. Get away from your desk, turn off the TV and start noticing the smells and tastes of your food. Take the time to chew and savour, feeling grateful for the food you receive. Notice how your body feels and stop when you are no longer hungry.
15/ Be thankful for something new every day.
You may have heard of the gratitude journal where you write down what you are grateful for as a meditation practice, or maybe you just know how good gratitude is for your relationships and your mental health. You might even mentally make a gratitude list instead of counting sheep when you go to bed at night.
If every feeling of gratitude generates positivity, challenge yourself to be grateful for something new every day. Hold yourself accountable by recording it each night, and see how many things you find to be grateful for in addition to your family or your seven hours of sleep (my two absolutes of gratitude). Not only can this practice of gratitude enhance our happiness, but it requires us to be aware throughout the day of new things to be thankful for.
That’s it! 15 changes you can make to improve your mental health, that’s a lot of information all at once, but some things will certainly speak to you more than others. If you have other ideas, share them in comments 🙂 Thanks to you 💖