Holly Golightly called them a case of “the mean reds” — a funk, a malaise, a general feeling of emotional disquiet. And the heroine of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is far from the only one to experience feeling emotionally off. The good news? There are simple strategies anyone can use to boost emotional well-being and add enjoyment to life. These tips can be deployed if you’re already deep into your “mean reds” — or for anyone looking to get out ahead of them. Here are ten ways to feel better, no matter how you’re feeling now.
Jot in a Journal
Keeping a journal can be deeply therapeutic. Make notes about your thoughts and emotions, and you’ll be amazed how much you learn about yourself. You might also want to invest in an anti-anxiety notebook, with guided exercises designed by therapists with decades of experience in cognitive behavioral therapy.
Exercise allows for the release of endorphins that relieve stress and improve your mental state. Not a gym rat? Not a problem. Go for a walk in the park. Take a stroll through the city. Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety and depression, so get moving. Listening to an audiobook as you venture out can make the time — and miles — fly by.
Hang With a Furry Friend
Spending time with animals lowers the stress hormone cortisol, and boosts the production of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, the same hormone that helps bond mothers to babies. So consider getting a pet or volunteering at a shelter.
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for improving your mental health. When you rest, your brain and body refresh and recharge so you’re at your best during the day. Turn off screens at least 60 minutes before hitting the hay, and avoid alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals just before bedtime.
Do Something for Someone Else
Being helpful has a beneficial effect on how you feel about yourself. The meaning you find in helping others, whether it’s friends, family or strangers, can enrich your life tremendously and give your emotional health a big boost.
Learn Something New
Sometimes, pushing and challenging yourself is the best thing you can do for your brain. Taking up a new hobby that you really enjoy can pump up your self-esteem and even lead to valuable new friendships.
Indulge in Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to decreased rates of depression, among other benefits. Supplements work, but eating wild salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts provides omega-3s, and also helps build healthy gut bacteria.
For a big mental boost, hang out with someone funny, watch a comedy or perhaps even take a Laughter Yoga class. Smiling alone can be calming and can even help lower your heart rate.
Open Yourself Up
When you open up to someone else — perhaps telling them something about yourself that no one else knows — it helps you feel safe and valued. Being more trusting can greatly increase your emotional well-being.
There’s a wonderful quote from Mark Twain: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” And it’s true. Holding on to anger can lead to anxiety and depression and keep you stuck in the past. So, though it’s not always easy to do, practicing forgiveness can go a long way for your emotional well-being.
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