10 Mental Health Hygiene Hacks

You have a deadline or a performance. Depression has you in a muddle. Your creative calling is being silenced by a dark, haze. There is no “snapping” out of it. Here are some hacks that our YGT team have used to help us move toward the light.

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1. Exercising for 30 minutes or more a day will boost your mood, reduce your stress, sharpen your mind and add to your energy. While exercising, visualize what you want your day to be like and how you want to function in key situations where you must perform your best.

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2. Get 6–8 hours of sleep in each 24 hour period to re-charge and focus. Be mindful that cocooning in bed for 10 or more hours a day will dampen your energy over time. Get up. Make your bed.

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3. Eat healthy to boost mood.

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4. Limit substance use. Beware that alcohol is a depressant. If you are using recreational drugs or binge drinking, ask yourself:

  1. Am I experiencing negative consequences because of my drug or alcohol use (e.g., missing work, class or rehearsals; friends, colleagues or family are expressing concern about my use; having worse moods etc.)
  2. Have I started using drugs or alcohol more frequently or in greater quantity than before?
  3. Have I tried to stop using but then kept using anyway?
  4. Am I having cravings and withdrawal symptoms when I’m not using?
  5. Answering yes to any of these questions is a sign that you may benefit from seeking help.
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5. Build a support system. Make empathic connections with live, face to face contact with people you trust and value. Limit time interacting with people on social media.

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6. Manage negative thinking by challenging the validity of those thoughts. Negative bias can become a habit that is a distortion of reality. Feelings can get twisted by this bias and can appear to be “true” when in fact are just a by-product of low mood, disorganized thinking or internalized criticisms from parent figures in the past.

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7. Self-soothe as a vital step in self-care. Get a daily dose of sunlight. Take a walk outside, even if you don’t feel like getting out of bed. Keep to a routine. Start with always making your bed when you wake up and end the day with a soak in the tub or a soothing shower…

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8. Instead of watching and reading upsetting news and/or posting these stories on social media, use music to soothe your mind. Identify songs that make you feel happy, that inspire you and give you hope. Create special GO TO playlists to lift your mood. Only watch podcasts and Ted Talks that empower and confirm the good in the world.

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9. Show compassion, practice kindness and generosity. Help someone by volunteering. Care for a pet.

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10. Know when to reach out for help. It is safe to reach out for help. Create a core group of 6 trusted supporters. Develop a written safety plan with those closest to you to assist you cope with stress and to ensure that you always have a safe haven. Help them understand which of your actions and behaviors could be signs of your need for a life-line.

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