Today I Learned...
ife is built on your decisions, and you're the only one responsible for them.
Let's take a look at five tips from experts to improve your mental health and lifestyle.
1. Kick your doom-scrolling habit.
You don’t have to exclude technology from your life entirely in order to break free from the doom-scrolling cycle. You can harness its positive powers by being more conscious and active in how you use it.
Nina Vasan, a psychiatrist and founder of Stanford's Brainstorm lab, is known for her work in mental health innovation. She recommends that people change their computer or phone display to grayscale. Taking away all color from the screen can be a more effective deterrent than you might think.
This is a simple trick, but one that can work on our brains. Our brains are attracted to things that are bright and shiny. Former Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris, the founder of the Center for Humane Technology, argues that going grayscale removes positive reinforcements and dampens our urge to load up social media feeds or mobile games.
The idea is to make everything on your phone less fun. The more boring and dull it gets, the more likely you are to leave it behind (Source: Wired).
2. Don't let your past mistakes hold you back in the present.
When you're plagued by regret, it's easy to spend a lot of time replaying all the different choices that led up to this point.
This obsessing can turn guilt (feeling bad about something you've done) into shame (thinking that who you are is bad). While guilt can motivate people to take corrective action, shame causes them to focus on their own mistakes and shortcomings.
“Unfortunately, many believe that punishing yourself will lead to positive change. But nothing can be further from the truth,” says Christopher K. Germer, a clinical psychologist. Research shows that self-compassion is connected to the pursuit of important goals and less worry about failure.
“Self-blame shuts down learning centers in the brain,” says Tara Brach, a Washington-area meditation teacher, clinical psychologist. "It hardens your heart and isolates you. It doesn’t make what happened okay, nor does it improve your future.”
Instead, remember that to be human is to make mistakes. “Actively offer yourself forgiveness by, for example, whispering ‘forgiven’ or putting a hand on your heart. If that seems like a tall order, having an intention to forgive can be a start,” Brach says (Source: Washington Post).
3. Share moments of joy with your friends and family.
The time we spend with our friends and loved ones can help us get through tough times. Besides companionship, supportive friendships and relationships have been shown to improve one's physical health, emotional well-being, and longevity.
Geoff Greif, a social work professor, recommends that we “dwell in affection. Embrace the tiny, joyful moments.” For you, this might look like allowing yourself to enjoy your loved one's amusing remark or simply savoring the warmth of their presence.
Empathy researchers call this “positive empathy.”
Studies have found that positive emotions shared with others tend to improve well-being and strengthen bonds.
4. Adopt a plant (that's hard-to-kill).
Christopher Griffin, the creator of Instagram account @plantkween, hopes to show others not only how accessible and fun “plant parenting.” Adding plants to one's home can be a good way to feel more at ease. “Plants are a wonderful way to de-stress and decrease levels of anxiety,” Griffen says. In addition, they can clean toxins from the air. Much like trees do outside!
Adopt a snake plant!
Griffin prefers snake plants for their distinctively shaped leaves and ability to remove pollutants from the air. The plant thrives in a variety of environments, including low light and bright spots.
Snake plants can endure long periods of drought, requiring watering only every two weeks during hot months and every three to four in colder ones (Source: Washington Post).
5. Learn a craft.
The art of crafting has many benefits:
- it can help us relax
- redirect our attention away from stress triggers
- make us feel productive
Craig Sawchuk, co-chair of the Division of Integrated Behavioral Health at the Mayo Clinic says it is “an excellent way to break up the monotony of the day.”
If you want to learn how to get started crafting, check our our class: Recycled Crafts: Making the Most Out Of What You Already Have
These expert tips will help you adopt healthy habits and make positive changes in your life.
Once you've read them, you'll have a solid set of options to choose from—and once the time comes to take action on those changes? You're all set.