We spend a lot of time thinking about things we can do to make our lives better, but in reality, there are a number of things we can STOP doing – right now, today – that will improve our lives for good! Daphne Stevens, Ph.D., LSCW, provides life coaching, psychotherapy, and a range of other mental health services designed to help you live your best, most fulfilling life.
Stop the Negative Thinking
Negative thoughts have a tendency to sneak up and overwhelm our minds before we even realize it, leading to a spiraling thought pattern that can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. It takes a concentrated effort to identify this pattern when it first appears and be proactive in shutting it down. Have a mental image and mantra to replace whatever pops into your head before it gets out of control – a literal stop sign or even a blank white sheet of paper can do the trick. Find a word or phrase that’s positive and soothing as you’re envisioning your image. Words to consider: love, peace, grace.
Stop Ignoring Your Mental Health
Mental health care is becoming more and more talked about, accepted, and normalized, which means it’s time to stop pushing it off as a non-essential form of personal health care. While you might be able to head off disruptive negative thinking on your own, if there are underlying issues you need to address, consider employing the help of a mental health counselor or therapist. These trained professionals can provide you with insights, guidance, and tools to help you let go of past trauma, bad experiences, and stressors that might feel beyond your control. Start with a visit to your primary care provider for a referral.
Stop Eating Junk
It’s so easy, and even comforting, to grab a greasy fast food snack and your favorite bag of cookies and veg on the couch at the end of a long, hard day. While this might make you feel better in the moment – and is a perfectly acceptable occasional indulgence – according to Prevention, in the big picture, fueling yourself with junk will only make you feel run down, bloated, and unhealthy. Feed yourself well by learning new recipes, shopping at farmer’s markets and health food stores, and nourishing yourself with whole foods, fresh produce, and plenty of water. Consume caffeine and alcohol sparingly, and strive for good quality, regenerative sleep.
Stop Working at a Job You Hate
According to Psychology Today, work stress is one of the biggest causes of depression and anxiety, especially when you’re in a role that doesn’t feel like a good fit, or where you aren’t using your skills and talents. Consider going back to school and earning an online degree that will allow you to advance your professional aspirations in a new direction. An online program in a field like business, IT management, or health care can put you into an in-demand and fulfilling role. Studying online also gives you flexibility, in that you can usually work on your own schedule from the location of your choice. This ensures a healthy work-life-school balance.
Stop Putting Off Self Care
When time and money are at a premium, many people move their personal needs to the back burner and prioritize others. The simple truth is, you need to care for yourself in order to effectively be there for others. Stop saying no to lunch dates with friends, or to taking a personal day from work to hike or go to a spa. Prepare meals that suit your tastes, get into a regular exercise routine, speak up when you need help, and assert your opinion at home and at work. It doesn’t have to be an adversarial process – just a self-respecting one. Once you get into the habit, it will begin to feel like second nature, and you’ll start to feel a greater sense of confidence.
Ask just about anyone what they’d like to change in their life, and you’re likely to get a long reply. Rather than looking for ways to start making positive life changes, look for ways to stop negative ones. It’s a practice you can put into action today!
Daphne Stevens, Ph.D., LSCW offers therapeutic telehealth services including hypnotherapy and dreamwork. Her site is a wealth of information on mental health topics, and Dr. Stevens can be reached by email or phone for consultations.
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