There are two very important components to creating your wellbeing. There’s physical fitness, and there’s mental fitness. If you often feel stressed out, scatterbrained, or mentally exhausted, and you tell yourself, “I need to get my mind right,” there are some tips you can try to help you improve your overall mental state and do just that.
Two leading experts in the field of happiness research, Martin Seligman and Ed Diener, studied the differences between the happiest people and the unhappiest people. The former group was highly social and spent the most time with their friends, families, and partners, while the latter group was socially isolated either by choice or circumstance. As such, connecting with friends and family is a great way to get your mind right.
Believe it or not, clutter can have a tremendous impact on the way you feel. Karen Kingston, author of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, says that filling your space with clutter leaves no room for anything new in your life. This causes you to think about the past, and the problems of the past remain problems in the present. Organizing, in a sense, is taking responsibility for actively making tomorrow better.
Alex Korb, a postdoctoral neuroscience researcher at UCLA, recently provided some valuable insight into the way food and nutrients can affect your mental wellbeing. For example, he notes that people who are deficient in vitamin B12 often feel depressed since the brain can’t make dopamine and serotonin – two “feel-good” neurotransmitters – without it. Clams are absolutely packed with vitamin B12, and they taste good in a variety of ways. You can also get B12 from salmon, dairy, fortified cereal, and trout.
You’ve probably heard that exercise can make you happy, and science has proven this to be true. Your brain recognizes exercise as a moment of stress, and it triggers the release of a protein called BDNF, or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. It acts as a reset switch in your brain and it even repairs neurons associated with memory, which improves your mental wellbeing. Exercise also releases endorphins, which can contribute to feelings of euphoria, block out pain, and make the act of exercise more enjoyable.
Meditation is another fantastic way to get your mind right. If you’ve never done it before, it’s simple to get started. One of the best techniques is known as mindfulness. Sit comfortably in any location you choose, and think about what each of your five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and scent) is experiencing. This will help you live in the “here and now.” Studies out of the University of Oregon’s Department of Psychology have shown that people who meditate and practice mindfulness regularly have more gray matter in their right frontal cortexes and hippocampi. These areas of the brain are responsible for regulating mood and emotion.
At Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, psychologist Rich Walker asked more than 500 study participants to keep diaries for anywhere from three months to four years. After analyzing some 30,000 entries, he discovered that the people who regularly engaged in a variety of experiences were more likely to have a positive outlook than those who had fewer experiences. Why? Walker believes that being “stuck in a rut” has a negative impact on positive emotions. Trying new things can undoubtedly help you get your mind right.
Finally, another study out of the University of Oregon placed participants in an MRI scanner. Bill Harbaugh, an economist, told some of the participants that they would get to keep all of their earned money. He told others that they would be donating part of their earned money to charity. Those in the latter group showed increased activity in the areas of their brains associated with pleasure. This shows that regularly giving to charity – even in very small amounts – can be incredibly rewarding.
If you’ve found yourself thinking, “I need to get my mind right,” then you certainly aren’t alone. Fortunately, these are all very simple ways in which you can improve your mental health, mood, outlook on life, and your entire wellbeing in general.