18 Strategies For A Healthy Mindset

Woman writing in journal

18 Strategies For A Healthy Mindset

May 7, 2020

By Stacey Spata, LCSW

Executive Director, YMCA Family Services

Everyone faces challenges that can affect their mental health. For May's Mental Health Awareness month, and in these uncertain times, below are 18 strategies that can help ensure a healthy outlook and improve your mental health. 

  1. Routine, routine, routine: Routine helps us in more ways than just to get things done. Routines ground us and make us feel better. Routines help all ages, not just children, not just adults. It gives us purpose and helps structure us, which releases good feelings.

  2. Mark your Calendar: Create a calendar and cross off a day, it helps bring normalcy to know what day it is. It also provides a physical release and makes us think of tomorrow and uplift our mood.

  3. Hydrate: Drinking cold water helps with anxiety-type feelings.

  4. Grieving: We are grieving as a society. It is okay to feel the feelings. We are grieving events, holidays, big life moments. The releasing of tears have healing powers. Tears being excreted has a relaxing effect on the body.

  5. Take time and space: It is good to tell your loved one that you love them, but right now you need an hour of space to take care of yourself. In that time and space take care of yourself (i.e., read, meditate, journal).   

  6. Sleep: Make sure that you are going to bed and waking up at appropriate times. We need to be awake during light hours, if we sleep until noon, then we miss out on several good hours of daylight. Even on a gloomy day, it is lighter than at night. Our bodies need light.

  7. Physical activity: Workout to one of our Facebook LIVE Virtual Fitness Classes, walk, hold a dance party. Physical activity helps release happy chemicals in the brain and energetic hormones.

  8. Be creative: Speak it out, draw it out, color it out, write it out, build it out, move it out.

  9. Judge/Shame: Don’t engage in areas like social media where there are comments that hold judgement and create feelings of shame.

  10. TIME: Things I Must Endure or Thankfulness Intention Meditation Exercise

  11. Do for others: Being helpful, or kind by doing for others not only put things into perspective but also creates a flood of good/happy chemicals in our brain. Create a sign and put it in a neighbor's yard, collect rocks, paint them, and put them in places in your neighborhood for others to find, donate to the Y or your charity of choice, call an elderly person you know and see how they are doing, make a card for a local nursing home. Be creative!

  12. BREATH: Everything connects to our breath. Breath is connected to our feelings, breath is connected to our energy, breath is connected to our life, make sure you take time out of your day and be aware of your breath.

  13. Easy Meditation: Left hand on stomach Right hand on heart. Breathe in for count of four (through your nose), Breathe out for as long as you count (4, 5, 6, 7) (through your mouth). Repeat. When you are breathing in, breathe in peace, calm, happiness. When you breathe out, breathe out and let it go, negativity, anxiety.   

  14. Laughter: When we laugh we release negativity, anxiety and relaxes us. Watch your favorite comedian, American’s Funniest Home Video, funny animal video, talk to a friend about fun times, anything that creates laughter. It is the best medicine.

  15. Limit our exposure to all forms of media: Children pick up on our moods and builds upon their worries. It is overwhelming to adults and makes us focus on the negativity.    

  16. Music: Remember that music can soothe the wild beast in us and in our children. There is a time for quiet and there is a time to have upbeat music. Have a dance party and get up and move!

  17. Reach out to other people: We are not looking to socially distance; we are looking to physically distance ourselves. Call, video chat, zoom, however you can reach out. Staying physically distant is what we need to do right now but we NEED each other. Together, we are BETTER.

  18. Do something new each day: It creates something to look forward to. You can take virtual tours of museums all over the world, learn to draw videos, skydiving videos, national park virtual tours, Seewinter.com (you can look at dolphins in Florida), take a scenic walk, cook, build something you've been meaning to do at home; the possibilities are endless. When we have something to look forward to for the next day, it creates excitement, makes us focus on positivity, and we exercise our brains.