What’s common between Robin Williams and Chester Bennington? Both of these masters of the crafts succumbed to mental disorder. While the death of these celebrated figures has shed a spotlight on the mental health issues, there’s still a lot that needs to be done.

When people talk about mental wellness, they are often referring to a particular disorder. But mental health goes beyond diagnosis. It involves your overall psychological well being and focuses on the way you feel about yourself and others, your ability to deal with your feelings, and how you face everyday difficulties.

Let’s enlighten you on some significant lifestyle changes that can boost your mental health.

1. Constantly remind yourself to be positive

It is proven that your thoughts can have a considerable impact on how you feel. When you possess negative perceptions about yourself, you might undergo experiences that affirm the negative notions.

So, always try using words that generate feelings of self-worth. For example, try perceiving things like, “The interview didn’t turn out as I had expected, but I’m still going to get the job”, instead of saying “I’m definitely not going to get the job because the interview went horribly.”

2. Maintain a gratitude journal

You can maintain a journal to write about the things (or people) you have in your life. The sense of gratitude has been known to act as a major boost in an individual’s overall wellness and mental health.

Create an elaborate list of the things that generate a sense of gratitude in your mind. In fact, simply contemplating about gratitude also tends to be impactful for your mental wellbeing. But, you need to practice this activity consistently to experience long-term benefit. Also, the feeling of having something to be grateful for is bound to generate an indescribable feeling. So, make sure you bask in that amazing feeling.

3. Be around people who exude positivity

Being around people who are self-centred or negative can rob you of your energy and dampen your spirit. Surrounding yourself with supportive and positive family and friends can lift up your mood instantly. Also,it’s been proven that hugging a loved one releases a brain chemical known as Oxytocin, which alleviates anxiety and enhances your memory.

Associating with positive people can do a world of good for your mental health. While it may not be possible to ignore everyone who brings negativity around you, just make a conscious effort to keep negativity at bay.

4. Concentrate on one thing at a time

Concentrating on the activity at hand will allow you to ward off negative emotions from past experiences which can get you worked up without reason.

You can practice this by being mindful about the routine activities, eating lunch, like taking a shower or walking home. Paying attention to the physical sensations, smells, sounds, or tastes of these experiences will allow you to maintain your focus. Again if your mind is diverted, just bring it back to the activity you were focusing on earlier.

5. Interact with someone

The more you discuss your feelings and emotions, the simpler it is to recognize the potential red flags. This also helps in improving your personal relationships. Be it work related stress or an urgent need to opt for assignment help, you need to talk about it

Knowing that you are important for people helps you to think more positively. Also, being more open to communication can increase your emotional health. When you learn more about the positive sides of people, you tend to identify your own attributes.

6. Ditch the bad habits

None of us are strangers to the harmful effects of smoking and drinking. Excessive drinking can actually pave the way for stress and may even result in depression, while smoking can promote anxiety. Now, there is a general tendency in people to use these habits as a coping mechanism to deal with stressful situations. But, that’s not the right way to deal with stress.

If you have been indulging in these bad habits, then it’s about time you ditch them.

Changing these habits can be life-altering for you, because you will attain a better frame of mind, and will be able to enjoy a long, healthy and happy life. If that doesn’t serve as a motivation, here’s something more. Ditching these habits will save a lot of your money as well.

7. Pursue the things that make you happy

If you like playing Scrabble, you can do that in your free time. Do you enjoy reading? Spend more time with your books. Moral of the story, invest considerable time doing the things that make you happy, as long as it doesn’t have any adverse impact on your overall health. Make a commitment to pursue the things you love.

It is way too easy to get embroiled in the daily grind of the professional life or get overwhelmed by anxiety, but stressing about things will only make it worse. Pursue the activities that bring you happiness and find more time for yourself.

8. Eat healthy, live better

Consuming the right food nourishes your entire body, and that includes your brain as well. Eating carbs (in moderate amount) boost serotonin, a chemical known to induce a calming effect on your mood. Protein-rich foods promote dopamine, and tyrosine, which helps in keeping you alert.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients that enliven every cell of your body. So, make sure to maintain a diet rich in Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in nuts, fish, and flaxseed.) These nutrients are known to improve your mood and maintain the structural integrity of the brain cells that is vital for the cognitive function.

9. Inculcate a good sleeping habit

Research has indicated that sleep deprivation has a role to play in inducing a negative impact on your mood. Try to maintain proper sleeping habit at a regular time every day, and get into the habits that promote good sleep. These habits involve shutting down the screens at least an hour before bed. Use your bed only for sleeping orother relaxing activities, and limit the intake of caffeinated drinks.

10. Take frequent breaks

There are times when you will feel weighed down or too stressed out and cannot think straight. In times like these, you need to move away for a moment. Focus on anything else but what was stressing you out, until you feel better.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is practicing breathing exercise. Close your eyes and take ten deep breaths. For each breath you take, count to four as you inhale, hold your breath for a count of four, and then exhale as you count till four. This will have a calming effect on you almost immediately.

Wrapping it up,

Stressful situations will come and go. Do not allow worries to hinder you from living the life you want. So, take a pledge to make your mental health a priority. Also, feel free to talk to a therapist if you think you could use some help.

About the Author

Marceline Joseph is an online math solver, programmer and an academic writer associated with Tophomeworkhelper.com. Besides being associated with the education and teaching industry, Marceline is a passionate stamp collector and chess player.

Conscious breathing and its importance.

Many times in our everyday life we are struggling with anxiety, worries, and negative thoughts. All these cause us fear, anger, frustration, and other negative emotions. As we have moved away from joy, bliss, optimism, we are getting more and more into negativity and pessimism.

Such an attitude is very common in our time. Often we are victimized and feel prey of everyday life and the challenges we are called to face. Our common reaction is to attribute responsibility to all others, leaving ourselves always aside.

All this happens because we have moved away from the essential connection with ourselves, our strength. As a result, we try to gain balance, recognition, power, care, recognition, somewhere outside of us.

The result of this situation is the disappointment we feel when we don’t receive recognition as we have it in our minds, love as we imagine it, respect as we always dreamed of but never came.

It’s the time to take life into our own hands!

Now, more than ever, we need to rewind and conquer all that we dream of! Alleged throughout this process is Conscious Breathing. It helps us to align ourselves with our inner power, gain awareness, clear distinction and self-control. Conscious breathing is a process that gives us inner peace, balance, and awareness at every level of our lives.

Nowadays we consider breathing a natural process that happens automatically without having to influence it. But we ignore how much it can benefit us when we consciously and with complete awareness choose the way we want to breathe.

As I focus my attention on Breathing, I become aware, I learn to observe my thoughts and my feelings. At the same time, I release negative emotions and beliefs that block me and not allowing me to have a balanced life.

The experiences, beliefs and negative feelings I have been nurtured determine me until the moment I decide to see my Being in its true dimension. Only then will I be able to determine who I am and how I want to live my life.

When I release my fear of change, my hesitation, and consciously take responsibility for my life, then I will stop blaming everyone else for what is happening to me. Only then will I be able to recognize that I have a share in the course of my life and will find ways to change.

Through our internal shift, we make the greatest external changes. Slowly but steadily, we begin to focus on our goal with conscious effort.

Conscious breathing can become the means for a life full of joy, bliss, and inner peace! The challenges of life never stop, but the way of dealing with them is different when we have inner peace.

Learn how you can live a life of self-sufficiency, inner peace, and joy! Take the reins of your life and realize what you dream!

By Maria Kaurologaki, ananda.com.gr

Minor accidents are not random…

Sometimes during the day, things don’t go so well, and minor accidents happen to you. For example, things fall from your hands, you stumble, scratch your car, forget an appointment, etc. Don’t let your day grow into a bad day because what happens to you it’s not accidental. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you are consciously challenging them. In fact, they are directly related to your mental and emotional state.

Stop for a little while and focus on yourself because you are attracting these unpleasant situations.

You will immediately notice that before this happens to you, your breathing has already changed. It feels anxious, fast and irregular. Obviously something worries you deeper, a worry, an upset, a frustration, a fear that things will not end up well.

Negative thoughts have an effect on the breathing rhythm and hence on the rhythm of life. Dr Konstantin Buteyko said that proper breathing is protection for man. In fact he resembled it with angel wings that protect him from accidents and unpleasant situations.

Whenever your breathing loses its rhythm, you automatically lose control of your movements. At the same time, your thoughts blur and you can’t make the right decisions. Conscious awareness of your situation with regard to your breathing is the first thing you can do to stop the sequence of unpleasant events.

“A bad day seems from the morning” as we usually say. But you actually can prevent your day from continuing with bad energy as long as you pause a few minutes and consciously focus on your breathing. When you do this, you will notice that your breathing is faster than usual. Perhaps irregular, without a certain rhythm or you are constantly sighing.

Stop for a while and force your breath to calm. Breathe quietly only from the nose and follow your breath until you make sure it becomes more rhythmic and uniform.

This means that it will have a fixed pattern without having a quick inhalation-exhalation switch and the next moment being deep or the exhalation being stopped (because it tightens the diaphragm). You will understand that your breathing has found its rhythm when you feel an intimate calmness and relaxation.

This can be repeated as many times as needed in the day. Conscious attention on the breathing rhythm is like a cut in time that takes you a bit from its flow and brings you to what is happening, Now.

By Elena Papaioannou, a specialized breathing consultant, writer and specialized pneumonophysiologist with two world-renowned degrees as Buteyko Breathing Specialist, enallaktikidrasi.com.

Tao Porchon-Lynch is a woman who has been proving for years that you can grow, thrive and inspire without really getting older. The oldest yoga teacher in the world has a phrase (mantra) that repeats, again and again, every morning – and from the moment she has such vitality, maybe even every night!

Everything is possible! Nothing is impossible. When you wake up in the morning say “This is the best day of my life” and it will be.

When I was eight years old I saw some boys doing something I thought was a new game.

“No, it’s yoga and that’s not something that women do,” my aunt said. Later, I did yoga with B.K.S. Iyengar, who did some private lessons as he didn’t accept women until then. Now I have been teaching for 75 years.

The joy of life is written within you. Live it. Believe in it,” Tao Porchon-Lynch says among other things in the video, making incredible yoga.

Science Reveals that Well-being is a Skill

Wellbeing is something that is hard to define and yet we all have an understanding of what it is. It derives from how you feel about yourself and your life, whether things are going well, and how you cope with stress. Wellbeing changes over time and is influenced by every aspect of our lives, from close friendships to feeling that you belong and a sense of purpose.

Neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, is one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of contemplative practices, such as mindfulness meditation, on the brain. He says that wellbeing is not a static ‘thing ’– but a set of skills that we can practice and strengthen, just like learning to play a musical instrument or ride a bike.

Wellbeing is fundamentally no different than learning to play the cello. If one practices the skills of wellbeing, one will get better at it.

The Four Keys to Well-being

Research reveals there are four areas of mental training that can significantly improve your wellbeing: Resilience, outlook, awareness, and generosity. “Each of these four is rooted in neural circuits, and each of these neural circuits exhibits plasticity,” explains Davidson. “So we know that if we exercise these circuits, they will strengthen.”

It’s easy to be content when things are going well but what about when we face hardship? I’ll never forget the moment when my mum told me that she had breast cancer. It is in times like these that we need the strong foundation of wellbeing to hold us up.

Practicing these four skills can provide the key to enduring change and increased wellbeing.

1. Resilience

Resilience, or how quickly we recover from adversity, influences the amount of negative emotion that we experience. My mum was a doctor who cared for other people, the one who held our family together, and it was a shock to recognise her vulnerability.

Some people recover from a failed exam or loss of a job slowly, while others are able to rebound more easily from adversity.

We know that individuals who show a more rapid recovery in certain key neural circuits have higher levels of wellbeing. They are protected in many ways from the adverse consequences of life’s slings and arrows.

One of the ways that Davidson has found to improve your resilience is by regular practice of mindfulness meditation. It takes time to alter these specific brain circuits and you need many hours of practice before you see real change. “It’s not something that is going to happen quickly,” he says. “But this insight can still motivate and inspire us to keep meditating.”

2. Outlook

Whether it’s savouring the last bite of chocolate cake or enjoying a family holiday, a positive outlook on life increases our wellbeing. “I use outlook to refer to the ability to see the positive in others,” says Davidson. “The ability to savour positive experiences, the ability to see another human being as a human being who has innate basic goodness.”

Even people who suffer from depression show activation in the brain circuit underlying outlook, but in them, it doesn’t last—it’s very transient.

Here, unlike with resilience, research indicates that simple practices of loving-kindness and compassion meditation may alter this circuitry quite quickly, after a very, very modest dose of practice.

I couldn’t take my mum’s cancer away but I could be there for her, spend time holding her hand, and go for long walks together on the beach. I savoured every moment I had with her because I didn’t know how long it would last.

A recent study by Healthy Minds found that compassion training for 30 minutes a day for two weeks resulted not only in changes in the brain but also made it more likely for people to be kind and help others.

3. Awareness

When we really focus on what we’re doing, and our minds are not wandering, we actually feel better about ourselves.

Researchers at Harvard conducted a study using an app, Track Your Happiness, that asked people three questions:

  • What are you doing right now?
  • Where is your mind right now? Is it focused on what you’re doing, or is it focused elsewhere?
  • How happy or unhappy are you right now?

And they found that 47% of the time people weren’t paying attention.

Can you envision a world where that number goes down a little, by even 5 percent? Imagine what impact that might have on productivity, on showing up, on being present with another person and deeply listening.

To stop myself from falling into the fear of losing my mum, I used mindfulness again and again to bring me back into the present moment, to simply be there with her, and to deeply listen with an open heart.

Philosopher and psychologist William James, author of The Principles of Psychology, says the ability to repeatedly bring back a wandering mind is the root of judgment, character, and will. Mindfulness brings us back to the present moment and deepens our connection to ourselves and others.

4. Generosity

When we act generously by volunteering at a homeless shelter or giving somebody a compliment, we become happier in ourselves. The ability to empathise, express gratitude and behave compassionately towards others are skills that can not only be learned, but also can make us feel happy.

There are now a plethora of data showing that when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behavior, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering wellbeing.

It was so heartwarming to watch as my mum, who had spent her whole life taking care of others, was surrounded by her friends and family, who showed up with food and flowers, and took her every week for treatment.

Davidson explains that these circuits get activated in a way that is more enduring than the way we respond to other positive incentives, such as winning a game or earning a prize. We’re not creating something new when we engage in practices that cultivate kindness, but simply developing our capacity for compassion. Davidson says:

What we’re doing is recognizing, strengthening, and nurturing a quality that was there from the outset.

Shaping Our Brain

Davidson says that our brains are constantly being shaped wittingly or unwittingly – most of the time unwittingly. The science behind wellbeing as a skill makes “a kinder, wiser, more compassionate world possible.” What we know about neuroplasticity gives us the power to shape our minds with intention.

We have the opportunity to take more responsibility for the intentional shaping of our own minds and through that, we can shape our brains in ways that would enable these four fundamental constituents of wellbeing to be strengthened. In that way, we can take responsibility for our own minds.

I’m happy to say my mum recovered from her breast cancer and this year is celebrating 10 years in remission. Breast cancer made her re-evaluate her life; she stopped working so much and now spends more time at art classes and in the garden. She says her cancer came with a hidden gift that gave her permission to practice self-care.

By training our brain, we can create neural pathways for wellbeing, especially when we are faced with adversity. As Davidson says, “Happiness and wellbeing are best regarded as skills.” We just have to keep practicing.

This article was originally posted at Uplift Connect, and is reposted here with permission.