This page contains the best resources I’ve found on understanding and improving mental health.
Saying “mental health” has a negative connotation. It shouldn’t. No one should feel like they’re at risk of judgment, scrutiny, or side-eye from improving their cognitive capacity. We don’t think about it like that though. We think about “mental health” like saying it means we’re broken. So then we get no help and start to break until we’re circling the drain.
Instead think of mental health like physical health. Just likes bodies get injured, brains get injured, minds get injured. Just like prehab, rehab, endurance and strength training are good for our physical health, they’re good for our mental health too.
Get better. Get stronger. Get to work. Be active. Get out of your head. Get into your body. Master sleep. Talk to friends. Lean on family.
- A Workout for Your Mental Health
- It’s a shame this is hidden behind a paywall. Word for word this contains more actionable advice than anything I’ve read. It’s short. If you’re a friend, family, or colleague, this is the article I’d start with to improve my mental health.
- Don’t try to tackle it all at once. Pick off these ideas one at a time. Then come back and pick off another. If you master most of these, you will be mentally stronger. Guaranteed.
- Here’s the high-level list and my thoughts and links.
- Make sleep non-negotiable. So important. So impossible when it’s not working. Read my sleep page for more. Find a doctor, therapist, or anyone to guide you to better sleep, not just prescribe a pill. There’s nothing wrong with pills. No judgment here. Just work on your sleep routine too.
- Set a routine. Create a morning routine, something you look forward to – like coffee, going outside, reading, time for what’s important to you however grandiose or mundane
- Calm your mind. Begin the day with stretching, meditation, prayer, one-minute of deep breathing, something, anything. I keep a reminder on my phone to take three deep breaths when something stresses me at work. This is good practice for those moments.
- Watch your language. From the article, replace “hot” language with “cool” language. It’s hard to hear your mentally unhealthy language when you’re saying it. You probably wouldn’t say it if you knew how unhealthy it was. Watch for judging yourself in your thoughts and words. As the article says, stop “shoulding” yourself. You should be nicer to yourself.
- Practice compassion. Everyone goes through hard times. That doesn’t mean it’s your fault. Does blame help you? You might think someone has to take responsibility, else the world devolves into anarchy. Well, that’s not all on you. We control much less than we think. Give yourself a break. Would you talk to anyone you care about the way you talk to yourself? Well then, start caring about yourself. Be your best friend.
- Move your body. Walk. Then walk some more. Then keep walking. Then walk again. It doesn’t have to be all high-intensity and weight loss all-the-time. Move enough to get tired. Walking is enough. Walk for twenty minutes when you can. Walk for sixty when the stars align. Walk multiple times per day. I get tired from weight training heavy, long bike rides and rows, and hot yoga. What activity do you like? What makes you tired? Do that. When you can’t, just walk.
- Create a media diet. Timebox the news to five minutes. Timebox social media. Timebox TV. No judgment here. I like an hour of TV, sports or a well-written drama, comedy, or movie. Outside of that, save the time for more movement, reading good writing, calling someone, taking a bath, going to bed early, maybe waking up and working on what’s important to you or just more time to enjoy your coffee.
- Choose your extracurricular activities wisely. Learn something new. Volunteer. Master a new facet of what you know you love. If you don’t feel like you’re regularly making progress at your extracurricular activities, you’re either a virtuoso trying to break through a niche nugget of skills (nothing wrong with going after Mozart) or need to find a new activity.
- Cultivate supportive relationships. Call a friend. Go see your family. Meet a colleague for lunch. Set a walking date. Make it easy. Keep it simple. Connect with your people. Even for a few moments.
- Be grateful. Buy a five-minute journal if you want to work on this habit. What are three things you appreciate right now? For me, I’m alive. My daughter is kicking a beach ball with grandpop. The air at the beach smells just as it should. Salty perfect. Yours need no comparison to mine. Just remember to ask the question. You’ll find the answers. You will feel better. You will notice the good when life is hard. That’s mental health.
- Anchor Events
- Physiological State Hacks
- Negative Visualization
- Create a Growth Mindset
- Five Power-Ups – good not just for depression but for strengthening mental health
- Depression – this page contains my speech on depression (maybe the best thing I’ve ever written), my articles, and resources.
- Meditate – Story and Habit
- Journal – Story and Habit
- Tech Diet – Story and Habit
- Mitigate Lift Complexity – Habit