The power of presence and positive thinking is profound. Regularly experiencing emotions such as joy, pride, gratitude and inspiration are predictive of human flourishing. The benefits of cultivating a more grounded and positive headspace include longer life span, less stress and improved physiological and psychological health. When we learn to ground ourselves in the present moment, address negative self-talk and nourish our brain, our wellbeing begins to soar.

Check out these tips for improving mental hygiene. Mark any that sound like they might work for you. On the MindWell Goal Tracking Form, you’ll build out your own goal to MindWell.

1)  Be Present
– Focus on the breath. This is the #1 way to stay in the present moment. Whatever you need in the moment; energy, love, ease, visualize that you are breathing in this emotion and breathing out stagnant energy for several breath cycles.

– Stay curious: If you can approach situations with curiosity versus judgement, emotional regulation and mindfulness becomes much simpler. Whether you are observing your physical surrounding, bodily sensations, or processing someone else’s words: simply notice. Observe. Get curious.

– Check in. To stay in the moment, try for one week to repeat this to yourself several times during the day: “where am I right now?” take in everything around you, letting go of where you were or where you’re going. Just be in the moment.

2)  Cultivate Positivity
– Start and end each day with a positive statement. This could be that you made a stranger smile or that you handled a difficult situation well – anything to make you smile or reaffirm your worth.

– Look for the learning opportunity in every failure and bad experience.

– Identify a specific area of your life you tend to have negative thoughts about. Recognize and replace the negative with a positive thought.

– Repeat affirmations that inspire and motivate you. Post sticky notes or reminders that keep this in the forefront of your mind.

– Don’t ruminate on negative things that are out of your control. Practice the art of letting go.

3) Fuel Up
– Feed your brain with the food it craves: berries, oily fish, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds and avocados all contain brain-friendly nutrients. Also, spices such as turmeric and sage along with vitamins B, K and beta-carotene are brain boosters.

– Challenge your brain by learning new things. Try a dance class or other hobby that requires coordination or reach for puzzles and brain teasers to exercise your brain.

– Get adequate sleep. Sleep is your brain’s only opportunity for it to literally ‘clean up’, processing memories and cleaning out debris.

Take a baby step!
Change doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In fact, it shouldn’t be. If you find your goals are feeling too large or daunting, ask yourself “What’s the smallest possible step I can take today that would be consistent with my goal?” This might be simply taking three deep breaths or looking in the mirror and smiling for 15 seconds … and that’s ok. As long as you took some step toward your goal you will likely still feel some sense of accomplishment and renewed motivation.

Check out this MindWell Goal Tracking form to help you get on and stay on target.

Printed with permission:
Stephanie Faris, Employee Wellness Coordinator, USD 500
Sharita Hutton, Director of Communications and marketing, USD 500