We all inadvertently or deliberately create habits. The deliberate habits are usually the good ones that improve our quality of life. The unintentional habits however; is often as a result of us surrendering to temporary pleasure i.e. high dopamine inducing activities e.g. eating a slice of cake makes you immediately feel gratification which can lead to a habit of unhealthy eating. On the contrary making several conscious decisions of running on the treadmill each day – can lead to a habit of exercising. Therefore to improve the quality of your life extends to carefully eradicating self-destructive habits that were formed subconsciously; and replacing them with healthy habits which take conscious effort and practical willpower training.
Also Read: The Secret To Forming Good Habits is Simpler Than You Think>>
The tips below will help you foster healthier habits that may not bring you immediate gratification; however in the long term will bring you greater fulfillment:
Learn Something New
Don’t throw away that list of studying techniques for college just yet. Sorry to break it to you – in order for you to maintain a healthy brain well into your old age requires you to constantly learn. According to science, learning new things and experiences can prevent the onset of dementia during old age. Apart from the brain benefits; there are also numerous other advantages to learning new things:
- It expands your circle and allows you to connect with new people e.g. when you join a new sports club
- Makes you much more interesting to talk to as you will have a myriad of intellectual things to talk about
- Taking up intellectual hobbies to spark your curiosity; will expose you to people of different backgrounds and beliefs which will improve you perspective
- You get used to learning things faster which helps increase your mental capacity
- You get better at relationships as you will have drive and purpose – not being significantly dependent on your partner
The key is to choose something that teaches you an entirely new skill. Practicing that which you already know won’t do you any good. You need to develop new connections and pathways that haven’t existed before. It is preferable to choose something with a social component and something which appeals to your interests. Here are some great examples to get you started:
- Learn a new language. Here are tips on learning a new language effectively
- Learn a musical instrument
- Learn a strategic board game. improve your skills in this list of the best board games of all time – to get you thinking!
Check out the Active Brain section; for more ways to keep your brain active and learning
Be Aware Of What You Feed Your Mind
This is a great one to add to your list of good mental health habits. It however takes a lot of discipline and willpower to show restraint for the things that are tempting. For e.g. watching violent TV shows can inherently make you a violent person. Or watching sexual content on the internet can lead to addictions which could be a relationship killer. Even things as supposedly harmless as watching the news can have consequences. Imagine constantly feeding your mind stories of hate, violence and crime – the result will be a mind biased towards believing the world is evil. This belief will result in the way you perceive the people around you and eventually alter your experience of life itself.
Here are some great examples of what you should be feeding your mind:
- Reading books that teach you a new skill or just expands your creativity. Not convinced; here are 20 advantages of reading books
- Taking up a course on something intellectually stimulating. If you are opting for online learning; read: Online learning advantages and disadvantages and how to avoid them
- Insightful conversations with friends and family
- Educational videos that teaches you confidence and social skills
- Motivational videos and positive affirmations
- Gratitude and positive self-talk
Next on the list of good mental health habits is embracing uncertainty. This essentially means eradicating the boxes that you have created for yourself and living life with no preconceptions of how you think things are going to pan out. So it’s about crossing out those self limiting beliefs and being open minded about your capabilities. For e.g. if you want to overcome social anxiety – stop seeing yourself as a shy person and instead see it for what it is i.e. a belief which you can switch over anytime. The more you become certain of what you think you are – the more you strengthen and nurture that side of you. So if you keep on telling yourself you are shy and never leave your comfort zone to speak to people then you will just keep reaffirming what is holding you back.
Uncertainty works when you decide to take action as well. Often we confront taking action and risk with past experiences. We think that because of the way things played out in the past – it will play out the same way in the future. Just because you failed at 10 jobs doesn’t mean the 11th one will have the same outcome. It’s all about learning from your mistakes, getting better and detaching yourself from expectations.
Also read: Intuition vs Reason: How To Overcome your fears
Intuition Vs Logic: What’s The Difference
Stop Dopamine Inducing Activities
As mentioned earlier in this post; one of the most beneficial mental health habits to enforce is dopamine regulation. What happens when we expose ourselves to binge watching TV series, eating junk food etc. is dopamine flooding in the body. To regulate the excessive dopamine in the body; the brain then stops secreting dopamine which makes it difficult to get the same enjoyment with things that don’t bring immediate gratification. These include:
- Studying something new
- Developing the mental skills you need to become an entrepreneur
- Getting past that first page of the novel you bought 3 months ago
- Going out and actually interacting with people instead of following fake profiles on social media
- Exercising instead of being a couch potato
If you have reached this point. Don’t despair. To realign your bodies dopamine level; you can practice delayed gratification exercises and what is known as a dopamine detox. You can dedicate a day where you refrain from immediate gratification inducing activities like technology, junk food and instead enjoy a book or journaling for self-improvement. Once your dopamine levels are balanced – you will find it much easier to accomplish things that previously seemed boring or you kept on procrastinating.
Also Read: 3 Great tips to avoid procrastination in college
Rest And Relaxation
Whether it is just a mini nap or a tranquil walk in nature; rest and relaxation is of vital importance in maintaining good brain health. According to Wellbeingpeople; physical symptoms such as a lack of sleep, tiredness etc. can result in stress and anxiety. This further results in an increase in Cortisol levels which can result in indecisiveness and uncontrollable thoughts. Therefore cramming in mini relaxations sessions can result in benefits such as clarity of mind and calmness due to better blood circulation and increased energy levels. Here are some great mini relaxation exercises to incorporate during your day:
- Have lunch with team mates
- Relax your body when behind the computer. The mind never tires it is actually a tense body that tires you. Close your eyes and repeat the words: “let go”
- Find a quite place and visualize a tranquil setting/ environment
- Watch a small video online to get you laughing
- Strike up a conversation with a team mate
- Practice deep breathing
Learn To Fight Worry
People who don’t know how to fight worry die young. Remember stress and anxiety is something that is avoidable. If you practice techniques such changing your perspective, accepting the worst and be willing to let go of that which you have no control over.
Understand The Biases Of The Mind
We all have biases based on our past experiences. Some of these are based on solid facts and a plethora of experiences while others often lead you astray. Adding to the list of good mental health habits is understanding your biases and how they were created. For e.g. if you don’t trust people with tattoos because of the movies that portray them in a negative light – is this a trustworthy bias? Not really. Therefore becoming aware of your biases and correcting them if they are wrong is a great mental health habit that will bring you success in the long run. It teaches you to embrace uncertainty and to never base future decisions primarily on past experiences. Sometimes you just need to have faith that things will turn out differently.
Not only does exercising release endorphins (“feel good hormones”) but it also makes you look and feel good. This gives you confidence to be successful in relationships and your career advancement. In addition to these psychological benefits; here are 6 benefits according to Planetfitness.com; that exercising can have on the brain:
- It is brightens your mood and can also have a long term benefit with regards to reducing anxiety and depression
- It can help fight brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Cancer by increasing blood flow to the brain and boost brain cell production
- Builds confidence
- Encourages social interaction. According to a Harvard study on happiness – close relationships with people make us the happiest
- Cramming in a session during working hours can increase focus and creativity
- Reduces stress
Control Your Mind With Mindfulness And Meditation
Mindfulness and mediation are excellent ways to help you reach a conscious mindset. As discussed in the post: A Mindful Approach To Self Actualization; we tend to live life on autopilot – the result is that we often subconsciously walking through life; always reaching the same unwanted outcome. Meditation and mindfulness helps to quieten the mind and bring one to the present moment. In the present moment you are not unconsciously led by a script of the past but rather can observe and make different decisions that will take you to a new outcome.
For a well rounded read on how to maintain your brain health; read:
The Ultimate guide on how to sustain your brain health>>
Also drop a comment below on some of your good mental health habits that has been working for you.