As someone who has suffered from anxiety and depression since childhood, keeping my mindset in a relatively positive place can feel like a never-ending battle.
To this day, I still sometimes wake up feeling as if I’m clinging onto the edge of a cliff by my fingertips with dense, dark fog swirling around me.
The difference is that now, after years of feeling negative, desperate and hopeless, I’ve found a rope to help me climb up:
I’ve been journaling or keeping a diary since I was a kid, but my journal practise never had purpose or direction. I didn’t know what techniques to practise or how to get into the habit of practising them every day in order to get the most out of them.
Since discovering these key elements, I’ve not only improved my mindset and, by extension, mental health, I’ve boosted my self-esteem, relieved my anxiety, learned about who I am as a person, and ultimately given myself a more positive outlook on myself and life.
Practising gratitude means taking note – quite literally if you’re journaling – of what you’re thankful for in your life.
It means focusing on the positive over the negative; on abundance rather than a sense of lack or inadequacy.
You see, whether we suffer from mental health issues or not, human beings naturally have pretty negative mindsets. That’s just how we’ve evolved – it’s called Negativity Bias. Automatically assuming the worst-case scenario kept our ancestors safe from real life threats like poisonous berries and dire wolf attacks.
The problem is that nowadays, while we usually don’t have to worry about getting attacked by dire wolves when we go to the grocery store, the mindset that something bad could happen at any moment has remained. It’s hard-wired into us.
The more we practise redirecting these negative thought patterns to a place of relative positivity, the easier it will come with time as it strengthens those neutral pathways and essentially rewires our thought processes.
Listing down what I’m grateful for every morning has helped retrain my mindset into thinking about the positive rather than dwelling on the negative so often.
Goal-setting each day is a huge motivator for me.
When my depression is bad, just getting out of bed in the morning feels like an impossible task. However, when I have goals, I feel like I have purpose.
Setting some goals, no matter how small, as soon as you wake up can not only boost motivation, but productivity and even efficiency.
Once you’ve completed your goal, you get a sense of achievement and a little hit of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for feeling rewarded and accomplished.
If your mental health is in a bad place, your one goal for the day may be to simply get out of bed and brush your teeth. And that’s totally okay.
Practising self-care means putting our mental, emotional, physical, social, financial, and spiritual needs first and choosing to take care of our own well-being.
It’s not about being selfish, it’s about survival.
The issue is, we all know we should do this, but we don’t. We continuously put our own needs on the backburner and our mental health suffers as a result.
We argue that we don’t have enough time for self-care and push it to the back of our minds.
I’ve found that scheduling self-care into my day has helped me not only be more self-aware when it comes to practising it but has encouraged me to actually do it.
Making time for our own needs is so important for our mindsets. I can’t stress this enough.
Repeating affirmations – self-affirming, positive statements – is an effective way to improve self-esteem, mental strength, and our mindset towards ourselves, others and the world in general.
Affirmations work in a similar way to practising gratitude: the more you repeat them out loud, in your own head or in your journal (or, even better, all three), the more your mind starts to believe them.
The chances are, your positive affirmations have always been true. You rewiring your thought processes and improving your mindset is just making them visible to you now.
Journal prompts are a handy way to explore your inner wounds so that you can move forward from them, heal, and grow as a person.
They encourage you in the right direction, which make them super-handy if you struggle with not knowing what to write or writing tasks in general, and save you stress as they guide you.
There are a ton of journal prompts available online that serve a number of purposes from shadow work, personal development, healing your inner child, and growth, to relieving anxiety and counteracting negative self-talk.
When using journal prompts, the world is your oyster.
You’re free to pick a prompt that suits your needs and write as much or as little as you want. Just spill your thoughts and feelings onto the page.
Journal prompts – and journaling in general – has helped me see life in a different way.
I now know and embrace who I am as a human being. I know how to look after myself and grow.
While I still obviously have bad mental health days, they’re much more manageable and my outlook is much sunnier.
Now, when I wake up feeling as if I’m dangling off that cliff, the rope to pull myself up with is much easier to find.
Nia started her journaling and self-care blog, Seeking Serotonin, three years ago after struggling with her own mental health and negative mindset since childhood.
Her goal is to help others through the techniques and lessons she’s learned along the way so that they can improve their mindset and start putting themselves first.