There are proven, practical tools that can help you cope better.
- You can feel more capable, less anxious & more resilient.
- You can have more joy & more hope.
- You can Live Your Life Well.SM
Maybe it’s bills that keep piling up.
Maybe it’s a commute that chokes your morning.
Maybe it’s raising young children, caring for aging parents or endless deadlines at work.
Whatever your situation, life can be incredibly stressful. And too much stress can really damage your health, your mood, your focus and your relationships with the people around you.
But you can tackle stress. In fact, decades of research suggest the best ways to do it. The 10 Tools to Live Your Life Well SM are based on expert information about how people can better handle challenges and protect their overall health and well-being.
And the 10 Tools don’t demand huge changes. Just by setting aside a manageable amount of time each day, you can strengthen one of your greatest assets: your mental health. Good mental health keeps you productive, energetic, happy and hopeful–even in the face of life’s challenges.
You can start by reviewing the 10 Tools to see which ones suit you. Of course, not all the tools are right for everyone, but you’ll likely find at least a few to try. Then check out the suggestions for applying them to your life. In this booklet, we offer a quick overview of some ways to apply each tool. You’ll find a lot more on our website, www.LiveYourLifeWell.org.
1) Connect with others.
Humans are social animals. We tend to do much better when we feel supported, valued and understood. Some ways to build connections:
- Join a book group, hiking club or other group.To make your entry smoother, consider contacting the group’s leader in advance.
- Enroll in a class.You and your classmates will already share a common interest.
- Boost existing connections.Commit to a certain amount of time with your loved ones each week–without pagers, iPods or other distracting contraptions.
DID YOU KNOW?
The research suggests that people who feel connected are happier and healthier–and may even live longer.
2) Stay positive.
Thinking negatively can drag down your mood and your health. But don’t let that worry you. Experts say you can learn to be less gloomy.
Some ways to stay positive include:
- Don’t assume the worst. Our fears often don’t materialize. Ask yourself how realistic yours are.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write down anything that makes you smile, like great relationships or special occasions.
- Remember your achievements. If you think you’ll flop at the office party, remember times when you were outgoing and confident.
People who regularly focus on the positives in their lives are less upset by painful memories.
3) Get physically active.
Our bodies were built to move, especially when they’re pumping out stress-induced hormones.
Some ways to make sure you exercise:
- Put it in your calendar. Schedule physical activity as you would any important appointment, and keep it.
- Work out with a friend. It’s sometimes harder to break a commitment to someone else than to ourselves.
- Really run your errands. If you’re busy, you can still find small ways to get active. Try walking a bit faster or further when you stop for groceries, for example.
BOOST YOUR MOOD
Exercise can help prevent heart disease, relieve insomnia and reduce anxiety and depression.
4) Help others.
If you help your neighbor, it’s good for her, but it’s good for you too.
Some ways to help others:
Volunteer with a community organization. You can make a great contribution while developing your skills and learning more about an area that interests you.
Volunteer a smile. Helping doesn’t require grand gestures or huge time commitments.
Tell someone what you admire about them. Even if you think they already know, it’s always nice to hear.
DO GOOD, FEEL GOOD
Research suggests that those who consistently help other people experience less depression, greater calm and fewer pains.
5) Get enough rest.
Sleep may seem like a waste when there’s so much to do, but you’re more likely to succeed at your tasks if you get enough rest.
Some ways to create good nights:
De-caffeinate yourself. Caffeine lasts a long time, so stop about six to eight hours before bed.
De-stress yourself. Turn off daytime worries by finishing any next-day preparations about an hour before bed.
Avoid frustration. If you can’t fall asleep after 15 minutes, get up until you feel more tired.
People who don’t get enough sleep face a number of possible risks, including weight gain, decreased memory, impaired driving and heart problems.
6) Create joy and satisfaction.
Go ahead, kick up your heels or just kick back. Feeling good is good for you.
Some ways to increase joy and satisfaction:
Pop in a humor CD. Keep one in the car and steer clear of traffic frustration.
Do something you loved as a kid. Run through the sprinklers, hang from the monkey bars, make a mess with finger paints.
Identify the high points of your day. Take note of what gets your “juices” flowing and then try to do those activities more.
JUMP FOR JOY
Positive emotions can boost your ability to bounce back from stress.
7) Eat well.
Our bodies–and our brains– need good fuel to function well.
Some ways to promote good nutrition:
Eat regularly. Skipping meals can make your blood sugar drop, which may leave you nervous or irritable.
Snack well. Sustain your energy–and your ability to resist junk food–by packing healthy snacks like nuts or raisins.
Strive for balance. Your brain needs a variety of nutrients to perform functions that affect your mood and your thinking.
Eating healthy food can boost your energy, lower the risk of developing certain diseases and influence your mood.
8) Take care of your spirit.
Taking care of your spirit means connecting to whatever you consider meaningful and holy, whether that’s God, nature, art or something deep within yourself.
Some ways to connect with your spiritual side:
Pray, or focus on your notion of God. You can worship from a prayer book or from your heart.
Talk with others who share similar spiritual beliefs and learn from each other.
Read inspiring texts for insights that can enrich your life.
People who have strong spiritual lives may be healthier and live longer. Spirituality seems to cut the stress that can contribute to disease.
9) Deal better with hard times.
Most of us will face some particularly tough times in our lives, like a loss or divorce. Having ways to cope with these challenges can protect your health and well-being.
Some ways to deal with especially hard times:
Tackle problems. Instead of just worrying, make a list of possible solutions. Pick one and break it into manageable chunks.
Get support. Other people who’ve gone through similar situations can offer concrete advice–and a real understanding of how you feel.
Write it out. Writing about an upsetting event can make you feel better. It organizes your thoughts and helps you file the problem away.
People coping with stress feel less depressed after problem-solving.
10) Get professional help if you need it.
If the problems in your life are stopping you from functioning well or feeling good, professional help can make a big difference.
Some ways to get professional help:
Find names of mental health care providers. You can ask your doctor, friends or clergy. You can also contact your local Mental Health America affiliate, which you can locate through www. mentalhealthamerica.net/go/ searchMHA.
Prepare a list of questions for a possible provider, like “What experience do you have treating my issues?” and “Do you use a particular approach?”
Determine your coverage, if you have insurance. If not, you can ask your community mental health center about free or lower-cost services.
More than 80 percent of people who are treated for depression improve.
We at Mental Health America believe:
You can be well–vibrant, strong, alert and productive.
You can feel well–comfortable, confident, gratified and grateful.
You can Live Your Life Well.SM
For more information or referrals to local services, visit our online Frequently Asked Questions section, contact Mental Health America or your local Mental Health America affiliate.
If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.
This publication is made possible through unrestricted educational grants from Eli Lilly and Company, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Forest Laboratories, Inc.