If you’re on the wavelength of “new year, new me” or you just want to make positive changes in your life, focusing on your mental health is a must.
Renowned author and life coach Tiffany Cepeda has a few surefire ways to help get the focus onto your mental health with some easy things to include in your day.
Schedule Some Micro-Wellness Breaks Into Your Day!
One tip that Cepeda swears by is taking micro-wellness breaks. It doesn’t take much time or effort and can make a huge difference in your day.
“I think one of the biggest things that we can do is, I like to call them micro-wellness breaks. So you kind of minimize these breaks, they’re intentional and you can do mindfulness exercises or deep breathing techniques. These always reset your amygdala, which your amygdala in your brain is basically where all your emotional responses are for either fight or flight, stress, overwhelm, these sorts of things,” she told The Blast exclusively.
“And in order to reset that amygdala and give it that fresh start so you can focus more on your frontal lobe, which is logic, basically stress-free hormones that get released and these chemicals, deep breathing does that. It’s so simple.”
Cepeda recommends setting a reminder on your phone and integrating these micro-wellness breaks into your day.
“So when we can schedule these things, your alarm goes off on your phone, then just breathe in for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds and you do that four times,” she said. “That just gives you this sense of peace that comes over your body, it refuels you, it sends the right chemicals to your brain that get released and it just lets you have these wellness breaks of no stress.”
Another tip she shared is being intentional on your breaks. Set one or two times a day that you take a short walk to get fresh air. It can really help to have peace and clarity and feel refreshed.
Affirmations And Journaling Can Help To Rewire Your Brain
Cepeda also shared a few other simple things that any age can do to help rewire the brain and ultimately help your overall mental health.
“Affirmation and journaling kind of go hand-in-hand. Affirmations, when you speak out to these words, they could be positive or negatives, of course, affirmations should be positive things,” she said. “When your brain hears that in your own voice, it goes in and has to process what you’re saying. And the positive things we speak actually help to rewire these neuro pathways.”
Speaking negatively, actually starts triggering chemicals to be released for this negativity and cortisol levels start to go up and keep you in a down mood. But speaking positive things remind yourself of who you are and empowers you, rewiring the neuro pathways and release feel good hormones in your body.
“Through time, they will become natural,” she explained. “You’re literally rewiring this path, so to speak. They’ve actually have been proven to treat trauma.”
Journaling is a great way to “brain dump” and get it all out at the end of your day.
“There’s something about the act of writing, even if it’s just a brain dump of writing all the things that’s happened in your day or all of the emotions you’ve experienced,” she said.
“Writing down all of your traumas, there’s something about getting it out, thinking about it and processing it in this way not only clears your mind but it does the same thing as speaking positive affirmations.”
Keep In Mind: Gratitude And Stress Can’t Exist At The Same Time
Something else that can help mental health is practicing gratitude. Cepeda explained that when you’re in that mode of gratitude, stress and anxiety cannot exist.
“Gratitude and stress, anxiety, overwhelm cannot exist at the same time. It’s physically impossible because they operate in two different lobes,” she explained.
“Gratitude operates in the frontal lobe where the logic and reasoning is, where the peace and clarity remain. When we are stressed or overwhelmed or focusing on these things, your brain is operating in the amygdala. It’s impossible to feel grateful and stressed at the same time.”
Teaching Children About Focusing On Good Mental Health
Many children, especially school-aged children, experience stress, anxiety, and depression, so teaching the younger generation ways to focus on good mental health practices is important.
“Remind them it’s okay to have their feelings, it’s how you act out on those feelings. It’s okay to process these feelings, even adults have these feelings. It’s what we do with these feelings,” she said. “Not every parent teaches that, and not every teacher teaches that and so I think one of the biggest things we can start educating kids to do is to really help teach kids in school age how to begin to master their minds. One really quick way to do that is to do thought dump journaling. It gives them the space and freedom to quickly jot down all their thoughts that maybe crowding their mind and setting a timer for just five minutes to do that.”
Acts of journaling help to rewire the brain and help release stress. The act of dump journaling will change their life and start to rewire how their brain functions.
A sensory exercise is another great thing for anyone to do to ground yourself.
“You basically focus on all of your senses and bring yourself into the present moment. Do this for five minutes a day,” Cepeda explained. “What am I seeing right now, what am I feeling, what am I smelling, what am I tasting, start to pay attention to all of these details. It’s bringing your brain back to the frontal lobe mode and it anchors you in the present and interrupts all of your anxious thoughts. It’s like a quick mental reset.”
Mental Health Days Are Important!
We all joke about needing a mental health day, but how many of us actually take the time to allow our brains the rest it needs? It’s important to do things we love and set some time away from the hustle and bustle of our hectic lives to allow our brains to recharge and reset.
“Our brain needs rest. It goes back to addressing brain health,” she said. “I don’t think brain health is talked about enough. Focus on the words brain rest, so why wouldn’t I give my brain a rest?”
You can’t physically run all day long and not be exhausted, and our brains work 24/7. It’s hard to quiet down the mind. Enjoying something you love helps you to be the best version of yourself and not burned out.
On the days where there’s just no time to really put any focus into rest and relaxing your brain, there is something quick and easy that can be done to just release tension – energy release movement. It allows you to incorporate a quick physical movement to release any tension in a healthy way.
Incorporate physical movements to take the pent-up energy and release it. Quiet yourself down and do a stretching exercise to take the tension out your muscles. Shake out your limbs. Do quick physical movements to help dissipate the day’s stress. It’s a great way to relax before bed.