Stressed out? Grumpy? Tired all the time?
You need a mental-fitness regimen.
For months, therapists have reported a significant increase in clients who are anxious, worried or depressed over current events—the Covid-19 pandemic, economic woes, civil unrest. And while they can teach coping skills, such as emotion regulation, to help deal with the stress, they say it’s also important for people to proactively take steps to be mentally healthy, just as they would if they wanted to be physically fit. “If you wait until a major stressor hits to try and bolster your mental health, it’s like trying to inflate your life raft while you are already drowning at sea,” says Wendy Troxel, a clinical psychologist and senior behavioral and social scientist at Rand Corp.
What steps should you include in your mental-fitness regimen? Here is advice from the experts.
Watch your language. The words we use to talk to ourselves color our outlook. So try to replace “hot” language with “cooler” language, suggests Patricia Deldin, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. (“This is a challenge but I can handle it,” not “I’m overwhelmed.”) And stop “shoulding” yourself. (“I would like to...” not “I should.”) “A simple language change can influence our feelings and, subsequently, our actions,” says Dr. Deldin, who is CEO of Mood Lifters, a mental-wellness program.
Move your body. Research shows that aerobic exercise reduces fatigue and tension, and improves alertness, concentration, sleep, mood, and self-esteem, according to Dr. Deldin. And studies show that exercise in nature has even more benefits: It reduces the body’s stress response, lowers cortisol levels and blood pressure, and it gives you a sense of awe, which boosts mood. Dr. Deldin recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, which can be broken up into small periods. (Even five minutes of exercise begins to decrease anxiety, she says.)
Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal.