Ma$e was on to something. Sometimes you just need to breathe, stretch, shake, and let it go. Depression, stress, and anxiety are on the rise, and now more than ever we need to be mindful of and intentional about our own mental health. There are many causes of mental illness, but the ultimate antithesis of depression, stress, and anxiety is happiness.
Be happy. You’ve been told this before. Someone was trying to console you or cheer you up and they told you to “be happy”. You many have smiled as a way to show that you appreciated the concern, but what are you supposed to actually do with that advice? How does one “be happy”?
Let me tell you, it isn’t easy. If we’re trying to battle depression, stress, and anxiety, with the end goal of achieving happiness, we need coping strategies. On your path to minimize, master, or tolerate any of these ailments its helpful to put your problems into two buckets: “What are the things that I can control?” and “What are the things I cannot control?” Here’s a handy visual for you:
Either way, happiness is the end goal, but how you get there for things you can control vs. things you cannot control can be very different.
For things you can control:
- Seek Help. No matter what is causing you trouble, you are not alone. There are 7 Billion people in this world. Find someone who can understand or at the very least empathize with you to help you work through your problem.
- Problem-solve. You’re smarter than you think. Try approaching the situation from a different angle, gain a new perspective. Things are never as flat or linear as they seem.
For things you cannot control:
- Vent. It is normal and therapeutic to talk about what is bothering you. Vent and then move on. The moving on part is key – holding on to what is bothering you will only cause you more grief. Let it go.
- Adjust Expectations. This is not the same thing as settling. Sometimes we work ourselves up over what could or should be, causing unnecessary depression, stress, or anxiety. It is okay for things to not turn out the way we imaged them.
The more in-tune you are with yourself and the problems that are causing you distress, the easier it will be to handle them. Take a moment everyday to check-in with yourself. Start your day with an intention, find time to meditate or practice breathing, create a self-care plan, and be mindful of your emotions and what is causing them.
One easy and fun way to check-in with yourself and be mindful about your personal emotional wellness is to fill-in a “Year in Pixels” chart (click the link to download the attachment). Every box on the grid represents a different day of the year. There are 8 different emotional categories. At the end of the day simply assess you overall emotional well-being and categorize it as “amazing, awesome”, “really great, happy”, “normal, average”, “tired, exhausted”, “sad, depressed”, “frustrated”, “stressed”, or “sick, ill”. After a year you will have a really easy, colorful way to understand your current mental health status so that you can make a plan to improve it.
It is so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day that is life and even easier to ignore personal mental health. Make room for yourself and be happy.