To live a happy, healthy, balanced life, you must learn to focus your energy on well-being. Self-care on all levels should be an integral part of your lifestyle.
There is an abundance of information available about the benefits of eating well and exercising regularly to sustain a healthy mind and body. In fact, I write about both regularly. But today I want to move in a little different direction.
In addition to those two very basic and critical activities, there are a number of other things you can to improve your mental health and overall well-being. By incorporating them into your daily life, you will be better able to manage most challenges – including struggles with self-doubt, anxiety, and mild depression.
Practices that Focus Your Energy on Well-being
Accept Your Feelings
Stuffing or ignoring your emotions is more damaging than it is helpful. Everyone has emotions. They are a natural part of being human. Bottling them up may seem like a good solution in the moment, but when you do it all the time, you are potentially creating a time bomb that will eventually explode.
Unfortunately, you are hurting yourself as you hold them in and you run the risk of hurting those you love when the eruption finally occurs.
Rather than acknowledging what you are feeling and allowing yourself to experience emotions, you may medicate, rationalize, blame, bury, deny, smother, drink, or stuff them (pretend they don’t exist). Emotions have become the enemy and many people will do anything to avoid them – especially the big three: fear, anger and sadness.
It takes a lot of mental, physical and emotional energy to avoiding your feelings and creates high levels of stress and anxiety.
Don’t stuff your emotions!
Let yourself laugh, cry, scream, yell, or pound something (preferably a pillow, grass, sand – not the wall or someone else). Do whatever you need to do, probably in private is the best choice. But, if emotions erupt in public, excuse yourself and let it rip. This is nature’s way of releasing stress. Don’t beat yourself up afterward!
You must find a safe and sane way to release your emotions (this applies to both men and women). When you continually stuff them, you are endangering your own health and possibly the well-being of others around you.
Stuffed emotions eventually come out – either in the form of a physical illness, a mental break down, or incredible explosions of anger on anyone who happens to be around – including your children, other loved ones, colleagues, and innocent bystanders.
Don’t set up yourself, your family, or friends for these unintended consequences. Consciously begin to let down your guard and experience your feelings – recognize and acknowledge your emotions. Only then will you be able to manage them in a healthy way and relieve the stress that stuffing them is creating.
Be a Risk Taker
Routine and structure are good things. They keep us on track and make life work. However if you are a rule follower to a fault and never do anything spontaneous or out-of-the ordinary, you are missing some interesting adventures that make life more enjoyable.
Don’t let yourself become so regimented and predictable that you may even bore yourself. Life is meant to be lived. When you are not stretching and doing new things – taking risks on a regular basis, you are not growing as a person. Taking risks – even calculated ones can be exciting, rewarding and are definitely good for your mental well-being
Challenge yourself. Make a point of taking some kind of risk every day. They don’t have to be big risks.
If you are shy – make a point of talking to someone new. Learn a new language, take dance or voice lessons or join Toastmasters and learn to speak in public; and other things – like being more trusting or being more assertive. The goal is to push yourself out of your comfort zone regularly.
Take Responsibility for the Life You Have
Too often people spend their entire life blaming others for the life they are living. Everyone has their own experiences – good, bad and in-between. Those experiences definitely impact the way we view life – but they did not have to cripple us.
If you allow yourself to live in the past, continuously suffering for what you have lost or for what others have “done to you,” you will never be able to completely embrace the joys of life that are available to you. They will be lost in the fog of anger and self-pity.
The only way to truly enjoy life is to take responsibility for what you can control and for what you are creating right now – in the present moment. You are what you think about and you have the life that you create by your thoughts and your actions. Take responsibility for that; and start enjoying it.
The past is gone, the future has not yet arrived – all you have is the present, so learn to live in the moment and make it count.
Avoid just coasting through life, being totally unaware of what you are doing – never taking the time to look inside and to assess your behaviors.
Which of your behaviors are serving you and which are not? What factors are driving the behaviors that are not serving you? What is your prevalent attitude about life? What are your thought patterns? Are they helpful and uplifting – or negative and destructive?
What realities about your life are you denying? Bad habits? Self-defeating behaviors? Are you resisting change that would greatly benefit the way you feel?
You do not have to take it on all at once, but a little honest introspection daily – possibly at the end of each day – could work wonders in creating a greater sense of self and well-being.
Laugh Out Loud a Lot
It is time to start laughing – out loud – a lot! Many people take themselves far too seriously. This seems to be a particularly big problem for highly-intelligent people. And, typically a problem that develops as people grow into adulthood. It doesn’t generally afflict children.
Kids laugh about 200 times a day and adults, only 15 times a day at most. Let yourself laugh openly and freely as children do when they are reveling in life.
Read funny books; develop friendships with people who make you laugh; play games with your kids or grandkids; go to funny movies. In other words – have more fun!
Laughter is our way of communicating joy. Researchers have found that when people are joyful, there is a sense of well-being that when sustained, contributes to longevity.
Let the laughter flow openly and freely the way a young child laughs. It will be infectious and others will laugh with you.
Laughter not only provides wonderful psychological benefits, it also has many physical benefits, as well such as improving circulation, boosting the immune system, reducing stress, and normalizing blood pressure.
Finding joyful moments and making time for laughter can make a huge difference in the way you feel and the way you live your life.
My simple prescription for you is to laugh unconditionally every day. It is free – it is fun – there are no adverse side effects – and it will help keep you young (at least young at heart).
Focusing on Your Well-being Is not Difficult
Improving your well-being does not have to be as difficult or complex as you may imagine. By using the five tips here, you can easily discover that you feel better, you are less stressed, and that you are able to enjoy life more.
I am not telling you to ignore the importance of eating well, regular exercise and getting adequate rest. I am telling you to recognize that there is much more to a person’s overall well-being than those basic components.
A high-level of self-awarenes (how you act and how you feel) can impact your well-being in significant ways.