Staying mentally strong and healthy

Prevention is the best medicine. It is really difficult to pull out of negative spirals once we've fallen into them.

  • It's hard to pull out of a major depressive episode once we're in the habit of beating ourselves up.
  • It's hard to stop worrying once we've started imagining all the worst possible outcomes.

Not that pulling out of these problems is impossible. It isn't. But it can be a struggle. Life can be much better if we can creatively avoid these negative cycles in the first place.

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Mindfulness is a great way to train and control your attention - what you choose to focus on. Mindfulness can help you stop worrying and instead focus on the positives in your life; it can help you stop criticizing yourself and prevent you from procrastinating.

Good ways to get started:

  • Formal mindfulness practice, where you practise in a structured way for a fixed time.
  • Ordinary mindfulness, where you apply the lessons learned in mindfulness practice to real-life situations.
High-Intensity Interval Training

This method is where you exercise very intensely for short amounts of time. For example, 3 - 4 intense 30-minute workouts per week.

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay mentally healthy. High-Intensity Interval Training is logistically convenient and has beneficial effects from sleep to depression.

Getting consistently good rest will benefit everything from your immune system to your emotions.

Do just these two things:

  1. Be consistent with your evening routine each night. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will train your mind to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  2. Don't think or worry in bed. Your brain should associate bed with falling asleep. This means you should have a dedicated time and routine for problem-solving before bed.
Intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting means that you restrict your eating to a certain window of time. For example, start eating at noon and eat the last meal at 7:00.

Intermittent Fasting is the simplest framework for eating well. Cultivating an effective and reliable intermittent fasting system is very good to maintain our physical and mental health.

We all have shortcomings and blindspots. Try to take active steps to counteract them by regularly asking for feedback from people you trust.

This is often uncomfortable but almost always productive as it forces us to stay self-aware and keep working on ourselves.

Assertiveness

The ability to directly and respectfully ask for what you want, and setting boundaries on what you don't want, is key to building self-confidence and living according to your values.

Being assertive is not being rude or demanding, but a way to respect ourselves enough to ask for what we want. In the long run, we're teaching our brain that our wants are worthy of being taken seriously.

When you feel stressed or anxious, never worry in your head.

If you must worry, write out how you think and feel rather than just letting it loop over in your head. Putting it on paper forces you to slow your thoughts down.

The 4:55 drill

Staying organized and on track with all your responsibilities is a big part of not getting stressed out.

An effective technique for staying focused and productive is the 4:55 drill. At 4:55 ( or five minutes before you leave your office), jot down the three most important things you need to do the following day and leave that face-up on your desk.

  • It decreases your anxiety and stress about work during the evenings.
  • It clarifies what you need to do and reduces friction in the morning.
  • Not all mental health habits and routines should apply to everyone, but most are universally applicable.
  • Not all mental health habits are mentioned, nor are they gospel.
  • Many of the mental health habits are not psychological in nature. Mental health is built on top of a foundation of physical health. If that foundation isn't strong, what sits on top will also not be strong.

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