In the past year, I have tried to focus on bettering my mental and physical health. I have had ups and downs for sure, but I can say that I have made strides that I am proud of in the process. I want to share a few things that I have done that I have felt have helped me in the process. Part of the process is writing this all down right now, as journaling the past year has improved me significantly. Some of the strategies are broader, and some are relatively specific, but hopefully, there is something that can help someone else in this process.
1. I have become more focused on gratitude and being grateful. It is easy to get a focus on things that you don’t have or play the comparison game with others. But focusing on what you do have and what is essential in your life is not only a good practice, but according to this article, there is evidence to support it is beneficial to both mental and physical health:
“Grateful people are generally more grateful for their lives, and they often view their lives as a gift that should be appreciated,” Allemand says. Accordingly, when a person is more grateful for domains like one’s health or social life, they invest in those things. Previous studies have found that grateful people tend to report less anxiety, greater vitality, better emotional stability, and optimism. Furthermore, studies have found that grateful people report less stress and better sleeping habits.
It makes sense, Allemand notes, that if you’re experiencing all of those things, you’re more likely to be physically healthy as well. Psychological health is a predictor of physical health, and gratitude significantly predicts better mental health in the general population. It’s also known that gratitude motivates people to engage in positive behaviors that are linked to self-improvement.
I wrote about three simple questions you can ask yourself daily, that I modified from this Tim Denning article. They are as follows:
1. Did I learn one new thing today?
2. Did I help or inspire one person?
3. Did I show gratitude to someone who has had a positive impact on me?
The practice of gratitude has been beneficial to my past year, and I am going to continue with it as best as I can. I am not 100% regarding these questions every day, but I am trying.
2. Being more thoughtful of social media use. I can tell you that I have been way more thoughtful about my time on social media. There is tremendous value in the medium, and I am so grateful to the many connections I have made through the process, but I have lessened my usage, and I have seen a huge benefit in both my mental and physical well-being. For example, I do not look at any social media or email until after I workout in the morning. I used to get sucked into the “only a couple of minutes” practice in the morning, which turned into an hour, and sometimes I would miss my workout entirely. Now, I do not get to look at anything on my phone other than music and my Aaptiv app until I get a workout done in the morning. I also do not look at social media a couple of hours before I go to bed. A few other things I have done is use Buffer to schedule tweets, turn off ALL notifications on my phone, schedule blog posts that I write, and have stayed off social media for the most part on weekends. Like I said earlier, I still see tremendous value in the medium, but I am trying to be more present for others and myself.
3. Read the book the “Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks Fast.” I have anxiety, and I don’t talk about it that much. This book helped. A lot.
4. I focused more on consumption, not just creation. I am a massive advocate of learners sharing and creating ideas from what they know. But it can be easy to fall into a trap where we are so focused on creation that we don’t spend enough time consuming information and content that may inspire new ideas or feed our soul. This year, I spent more time reading books, really watching movies (with no phone in hand), laughing at TikTok videos, and watching tutorial videos on playing guitar and just strumming along. I always think of the John Medina quote (paraphrased), “Creation without consumption is the equivalent of playing the air guitar. You might know the motions, but you don’t really know how to play.” Everything I used to do was about getting myself to grow as a learner and to spark new ideas. Now, I am finding more material that is just about bringing joy to my life.
5. Being more thoughtful of how and who I spend time. My daughter’s life has flashed by in a minute. She is not 20 years old, but she is not two months old anymore. When I am around her, I want to have energy and enjoy every moment I can. She is three years old, and she will come to “play” guitar with me when I am playing, she has no idea what she is doing. But I know she wants to play guitar because I am playing guitar. She also will ask me to play a song, and although I am terrible, I will play and we will sing together. It is everything. Everything.
I have a lot of development to do in my life (I always will), but she makes me want to be better. So, that is my (Kallea) standard. Surround myself with people who make me want to be better because they want me to be better and are cheering me on.
These are just some of the things that I have used this year and I know they have helped. Although most of these strategies are focused on mental health, I have learned that is a lot harder to be well physically when you struggle mentally.
As stated earlier, I still have a lot of growth to do in all of these areas. Hopefully, there is something listed here that can help someone else.
Thanks for the support this year! I am going to take a little mental health break from blogging and will start posting again in 2020. I hope you have a great end to 2019 and an amazing start to 2020! See you soon!