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How we become unhappy.

The unhappiness we feel didn’t start overnight. It began long ago, back to when we were children. Long before any of us could have imagined where we are today…


Back then, it was the oppressive adults who held all the cards. And they laid them on the table for their kids, just one at a time. Rules, homework, chores. These are mine! That’s yours! You can’t have it until you are done! No, you can’t go out and play until you finish your work.


We wanted to call the shots. We tried to make the decisions. And then, we were thrust into the world of options. As soon as we are barely old enough to drive, we start making a long-range plan. Do we go to college? Do we join the workforce? If we decide to go to college, what for? What classes should I take? What career am I after? The list goes on.
Each time we make a decision, we force the decision of another. Our choices are interlinked with one another. If I choose to take the chemistry class, I must sacrifice music theory. And so our lives go. Boiling down to a series of choices. Each with its own unique consequences and sacrifices.


We hit a point in our lives where we start to question our choices. We come to the realization that there are trade-offs to each action. We had to sacrifice important things in our life to get to where we are today. Now, we begin to question whether our choices were the right decisions for ourselves. Think of it this way, have you ever described or thought of someone as “the one that got away.”? This is just one example of how your choices today can affect your entire life.


Is it possible to go back in time and change a decision that negatively affected your life? As humans, we become obsessed with looking back at our life choices and thinking of how different life would be if we went back in time. When we think about it, our ability to travel through time has been an ongoing theme in fiction books, movies, and various other forms of media.
That line of thinking directly impacts our current happiness. The older we get, the more difficult it is to let go of our past. It seems as though each year, the desire for time travel or having your younger self make better decisions grows even stronger. We begin to lose our youthful spirit and seek out any way possible to revert back to that state.


We question things because there is a finite number of choices anyone can make in a lifetime. The world is too big a place to do everything we are interested in doing. I can’t have a career and try to devote hours of practice to a piano to play in the world’s most renowned theatres.

I also can’t devote hours of practice to become an astronomer when I already have a full-time job. As we age, our interests change, and thus the decisions we make will change. We are in control of what decisions we make but not necessarily in control of how they will affect us in the long run.


Unfortunately, when we think of the decisions we could have made, we tend to think of the best-case scenario for the outcomes. For instance, if we think about the option we had in our youth to apply ourselves and become a doctor, we often imagine a fancy lifestyle that accompanies it. We don’t think about the hours of hard work to see patients each week. We don’t see continual research to keep our skills sharp.


In another example, we may think about how we should have stuck with photography. We imagine ourselves as National Geographic photographers, living life as an adventurer. We don’t see a lack of income if our pictures don’t sell. We don’t see the hours spent away from family. Most importantly, we forget that chasing that lifestyle negates all of our current family and friends.


We are trying to make that we humans don’t like to think about the bad parts of life. We only think of the good aspects and tend to gloss over all negative ones. This isn’t exactly helping us when we begin thinking about how our decisions could have been different.


As humans, we are biased towards thinking about our futures. This is why when we think about our past, we decide on what changes we should have made that impact our current and future lives. Philosopher Derek Parfit used a story about a time machine to help us mentally solve this dilemma.


He would tell people to imagine a machine that could take you back to the past. Whenever you wanted, for as long as you wanted, and with no cost or consequences. Would you use it? Most people would say yes because they tend to think of all the good things they could do.


However, if you think about it deeper, this isn’t a good idea. You would essentially live two lives with no guarantees that the second one would have a different outcome than the first.


Just because we had a bad day at work doesn’t mean that line of thinking can be applied to every other moment in our lives. If we let one wrong decision ruin the rest of our lives, then we have genuinely wasted our lives. This is why we should stop living in the past and move forward while looking at our decisions objectively. Unfortunately, I have seen too many people get fed up after a bad day at the office and altogether leave their profession. Now they spend all of their time reminiscing about the good times and what could have been had that one day never happened.


We need to accept that we will make bad decisions but also realize that we shouldn’t think about them constantly. It’s more essential for us to focus on what can be done in the present moment instead of incessantly thinking about all of the good decisions we could have made in the past.

What is Catastrophizing and why it is making you miserable?

Cognitive distortion theory is a branch of psychology that deals with the way people think about and interpret situations. It was developed in the 1960s by Dr. Aaron Beck and has been expanded on by other researchers. Catastrophizing is one of the cognitive distortions that can occur when dealing with a difficult situation. This happens when a person takes an adverse event or situation and blows it out of proportion, imagining all sorts of terrible things that could occur as a result.

Catastrophizing refers to the magnifying events into disasters that cannot be tolerated. For example, suppose you think that something like public speaking will lead to your becoming wholly humiliated and embarrassed. In that case, you are catastrophizing about what is likely to happen. When catastrophizing occurs, you are more likely to become anxious about what is happening or avoid doing things that involve the situation. For example, if you think some mild illness means you will be bedridden for a week and lose your job, then the illness may lead to anxiety and depression.

How to Recognize Catastrophizing In Yourself

Catastrophizing is often related to how you interpret situations. Often, people who catastrophize expect extreme outcomes in a situation when something wrong happens. For example, suppose someone bumps into you in a crowded room and does not apologize. In that case, you might think that they are “intentionally trying to make your life miserable” or that the person is “out to get you.” Catastrophizing often feeds the belief that a situation is horrible and unbearable, leading to feelings of anxiety.

One strategy for dealing with catastrophizing is identifying it when it occurs. You can ask yourself some questions if you think you might be catastrophizing:

(a) What is the worst possible thing that could happen?

(b) How likely is it to actually happen?

By doing this, you can make an objective prediction about what will happen. You may find out that it’s unlikely for something terrible to actually occur, and by realizing this, you’ll feel less anxious.

What does Catastrophizing Look Like?

A person thinking about starting their own business might catastrophize about the potential failure and risk of bankruptcy. Someone making plans with someone they like might catastrophize that if the person doesn’t show up for their date, or if the person cancels, they don’t want them anymore. Someone thinking about asking their boss for a promotion might catastrophize that their boss will say no and that they will be “stuck in this awful job forever.”

Catastrophizing can also occur when someone experiences a traumatic event. For example, a police officer who has witnessed the death of another person might catastrophize that they could have done something to prevent what happened or that it’s their fault. Someone who has experienced a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or an earthquake, might catastrophize that another event like this will occur again and lead to destruction. This is where anxiety is born. We have experienced a bad situation in the past. Our minds allow us to assume events will always be harmful in the future.

In interpersonal relationships, catastrophizing can also take the form of negative beliefs about yourself or someone else. For example, have you ever been left on read? When someone doesn’t respond to a text or a phone call, you might catastrophize that they are angry with you or don’t want to talk to you. Quite simply, the other person may have just been busy. People who have experienced an unfaithful partner may assume future romantic interests are cheating on them when they fail to immediately respond.

How To Handle Catastrophizing

Identify when catastrophizing is occurring: consider asking yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and “How likely is it to actually happen?” Challenge yourself to come up with an alternative explanation. For example, if you think your partner doesn’t like you because they did not respond immediately after a date, consider asking them why they didn’t reply.

Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. Sometimes these thoughts can appear when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, and reducing your anxiety will help counteract the thinking style before it spirals into a negative cycle of catastrophizing and further anxiety. Use behavioral experiments to test out the validity of your belief that something terrible will happen. Try doing something, and if the worst possible thing happens, practice accepting it. For example, you can tell yourself that you will be okay if your boss says no to your promotion request.

Change Your Focus

Think about how things could go well instead of focusing on the worst-case scenario. For example, “there’s a chance I might get this promotion, and if not, there are other opportunities out there.” Tell yourself that bad things could happen but that you can cope. For example, “It’s a possibility my boss will say no to my request for a promotion, but if she does, it doesn’t mean I’m going to quit my job.

Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, do things you enjoy, and learn how to be resilient. If something wrong happens, have an optimistic approach. Try to look at the situation from other perspectives or find the silver lining. Make time for activities that are meaningful to you. It is important to remember that although catastrophizing can feel like it is helping you cope with difficult situations, it isn’t. Try to find more effective coping strategies by speaking to a therapist or taking up mindfulness meditation if the issue persists.

It is normal to think catastrophically in certain situations. Still, suppose your negative thinking is so overwhelming that it interferes with your daily life and makes you unable to manage the situation effectively on your own. In that case, it is time to seek professional help.

Cognitive restructuring is an effective way to change your thinking style and reduce anxiety while catastrophizing. As we mentioned above, it makes anxiety worse and does not allow you to find solutions to the problem at hand.

Many cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can help you manage your negative thoughts and catastrophizing. Still, it is essential to know that the effects of therapy are long-lasting. This is because it changes how you think, not just how you act.

For some, catastrophizing is a common and normal thought process. But for others, it can be so overwhelming that they cannot manage the situation at hand on their own. If you find yourself in this position, then seek professional help as soon as possible with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques such as Cognitive Restructuring or Mindfulness Meditation. These will allow you to change your thinking style and reduce anxiety while also providing long-lasting effects because of how these therapies work, changing not just how you act but how you think about things too!

How Backpacking Saved Me, Again.

Anyone who has followed my personal journey knows that the non-profit Frontline Freedom was started out of need. I needed to escape. I needed to escape my own thoughts, struggles, emotions. I needed to escape and stay healthy.


I could have chosen to hit the bottle. That wasn’t for me. In fact, the best advice I ever received was more of a reminder. Alcohol was for celebrations. Not for sadness. Never drink when you’re sad, lonely, or depressed. Only drink to celebrate. Only drink to toast others for their accomplishments.


Enter the inner outdoorsman.


When I was a kid, I had an obsession with camping gear. I loved tents, cooking sets, and building fires from nothing. As I got older, my obsessions stayed with me. I bought all of the backpacking gear I could afford. Only, I didn’t backpack. I put all of my gear in a motorcycle and would take weekend trips, camping wherever I could find somewhere open for the night.


As life hit and I felt alone, I ran into Josh. We started taking backpacking trips and developed what would become Frontline Freedom. Things were going great. I was happy, healthy, and helping others in the process.


Then life hit me again. As it tends to do so unexpectedly.


I received a frantic phone call from my aunt. I could hear my dad screaming in the background. My heart sank.
My aunt said, “David, your brother is dead. He killed himself. He’s gone.”


It was December 1. Just a few days after thanksgiving. I never got to say goodbye. In the ensuing chaos that consumed my family, I did what I always do. I hid my emotions and tried to stay strong for everyone else. I offered encouragement and tried to help people understand that they would never fully understand. We cried, we laughed at old stories, and we wondered why.


Fast forward to four months later.


My mom called me. She was crying on the other end of the phone. “It’s bad, Dave. I need you.” Once again, the surge of adrenaline through my veins made me feel numb as I prepared for her following words. “Michael is dead.”


Michael was my step-brother. We came of age together and became adults at the same time. He was a good man who always provided for his family. Years prior, he became a victim of prescription pills, which turned to heroin use. He fought his demons in and out of rehab. Addiction is an odd thing. He never wanted to be addicted, but the disease overcame him.
He died of an overdose before leaving for work.


Once again, the family was in a state of mourning.


My younger brother, Ryan, was struggling with all of it. I was too. Yet, I again hid my emotions and tried to be the comforter to everyone else.


Luckily, Frontline Freedom had a trip planned between Michael’s death and his funeral. I told my brother, Ryan, that he needed to be on that trip with me. As we tend to do so, we went to Grayson Highlands and backpacked.


I remember looking over a ridge and wondering how to make sense of everything. Here was all the beauty of nature, and I couldn’t help but think that my two brothers would never see sunset again. They would never feel the rush of cool air on their faces again. I looked at Ryan as he watched the sunset over the ridge, and I could see the same look in him.


While I may have been in a sad place, the woods did something for me. It did the same thing it had done when I was a kid and again as an adult just four years prior. They gave me perspective. They gave me a chance to talk to the people on the trip. They allowed me to feel.


Sometimes, we lose feeling. Sometimes, that numbness we feel when we brace for bad news never goes away. Backpacking amid all that turmoil gave me back what I had lost. It gave me feelings, emotions, and, most importantly, safety.


I’ll admit it. I tend not to be a vulnerable man. I fall victim to some sort of never-showing ‘weakness’ mentality. That’s wrong. Weakness is not allowing yourself to heal. Weakness is not showing others that you’re a human.


Backpacking gave me the ability to share. Sharing brings vulnerability yet, courage. Strength comes from sharing. Power comes from admitting that sometimes the people who are always there for other people do, in fact, need people for themselves as well.


That trip was the perfect trip at the ideal time.


I am stronger for going and continue to be stronger today from the lessons I learned while on a trail.

**The above photos is of me and my brother, Ryan, on the Grayson Highlands trip**

How your sleep impacts anxiety

How Sleep Impacts Your Anxiety Levels

Most people know that getting a good night’s sleep is essential, but many don’t realize how closely linked sleep and anxiety are. In fact, there is a strong correlation between the amount of sleep you get and the severity of your anxiety symptoms.

The reason why is because your body releases serotonin while you sleep. Serotonin is the neurochemical in the brain that regulates anxiety levels, so when you get enough hours of quality sleep, your serotonin levels are higher than if you do not get enough sleep.

On the other hand, if your serotonin levels are low, it will be challenging to stop anxiety. There are exceptions, of course, but this is typically the case. So while it may seem difficult to believe that something as simple as getting enough sleep can have an impact on your anxiety levels, it’s actually very accurate. Getting at least 6 hours of high-quality sleep each night can help to decrease your anxiety.

But it’s not as simple as that. To fully understand how to best use sleep to your advantage, you need to know the different types of sleep and what they do for you.

The sleep cycles

 Throughout the night, your brain goes through different sleep cycles. Each cycle is about 90 minutes long, and each one brings you closer to being asleep.

Non-REM is a deep, dreamless state that most people experience only a few times each night. It plays a vital role in helping your body recover from stress and build new cells, including those responsible for learning and memory. The non–REM cycle is where you have more profound and slower brain waves and decreased blood flow to the brain. On average, this type of sleep comprises about 75% of total sleep time.

REM – is a stage of sleep during which your eyes move rapidly, and you have dreams. When you experience your typical four or five REM cycles per night, each typically lasts from 10 to 30 minutes.

The amount of time spent in different stages of sleep can vary from night to night for any individual. However, suppose one consistently spends less than an hour in slow-wave sleep. In that case, they are probably not getting enough restorative rest with their current sleeping schedule. For this type of essential recovery to take place, it is critical to allocate at least six hours for a regular sleep period in addition to allowing the body sufficient time for going through all four stages before waking up.

Healthy sleep habits

Some healthy sleep habits you can use to ensure you are getting the best sleep are:

– Avoid caffeine at least six hours before your regular bedtime.

– Exercise during the day instead of just before you go to bed. The rise and fall of body temperature from exercise can interfere with sleep quality.

– Limit your alcohol intake as it leads to fragmented sleep and frequent awakenings throughout the night.

– Avoid checking your phone or watching TV in bed as these activities can interfere with sleep quality.

– Find a sleeping pattern that is best for you and stick with it (fall asleep around the same time every night).

Habits like these can help your body create an internal “sleep clock” that is more in tune with when you need to sleep. On average, adults should try to get at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep each night; however, an average of seven to nine hours is recommended for anyone who is trying to recover from anxiety. 

Suppose your anxiety symptoms occur during the day. In that case, it can increase nighttime stress levels and interfere with your ability to fall asleep. The less you can rest properly, the harder it will be to function during the day and overcome your anxiety.

Suppose you are struggling to get good quality sleep. In that case, it may increase your anxiety, which can lead to further insomnia, creating a vicious cycle. Remember, some people with anxiety can struggle to fall asleep due to elevated stress levels.

This makes it essential to discover what is keeping you up at night so you can begin dealing with the root cause instead of allowing your anxiety to escalate further.

Suppose you have trouble falling asleep or become dependent on sleep aids. In that case, it may be time to chat with a therapist about whether an alternative strategy would work better for you.

Having difficulties sleeping can be frustrating if you are trying to heal from anxiety. Think of restful sleep as your number one ally in the fight against your panic disorder. It will help decrease overall anxiety, but it is also crucial for long-term health and wellness. By maintaining good sleeping habits and getting proper sleep regularly, you will experience a more restful and productive day.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t despair. Healthy sleep habits and a regular routine can help your body establish an internal “sleep clock” that’s better in tune with when it needs to be resting. Practices like these will lead to more restful nights and promote higher levels of productivity during the day for those who have difficulty managing their anxiety symptoms, which may occur during daylight hours due to elevated stress levels.

I suggest tracking your sleep with a good old-fashioned pen and paper or using a smartwatch. You can help uncover patterns in your sleep patterns and get yourself on the path to correcting your sleep hygiene.

Consistency is Key

Like anything, consistency is key. Healthy sleep habits are dependent upon a routine. Apple iPhones have a bedtime reminder (what I personally use). Each time it goes off, I stop what I’m doing, brush my teeth, and go to bed. Starting this routine has helped me decrease the number of weird dreams I have (you know, the one all cops have about trying to pull a trigger and can’t). Additionally, I feel more restorative when I get up.

The other thing I do is keep my alarm set for each and every day. Even on weekends, I’m up by 0530. After a couple of months, I really don’t need an alarm anymore.

Sleeping well is crucial for anyone who wants to overcome their anxiety. It’s essential to stick to a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, and get up at the same time each day. Suppose you’re struggling with insomnia or have become dependent on sleep aids. In that case, it may be time to chat with a therapist about whether an alternative strategy would work better for you. By establishing good sleeping habits, you can help your body regulate its own “sleep clock” and get the most out of your restful nights.

Creating a Conscious Mindset: A Key to Success

Most people operate on autopilot most of the time. They go through the motions of their day, doing what they’re supposed to do and not thinking about it too much. This is especially true when it comes to working. We all know that if we just do what we’re told and don’t think too hard about it, things will go more smoothly.

But this mindless approach can also lead to stagnation and boredom. If you never challenge yourself and push your boundaries, you’ll never grow as an individual. You need to be willing to experiment with new ideas and ways of thinking, even if they make you uncomfortable. By having a conscious mindset, you can take control of your own development and genuinely start to live the life you want.

To have a conscious mindset, you need to know your mindset. You need to be aware of the thoughts and ideas going through your head daily. This awareness can open up a whole new world of possibilities for yourself. The more conscious you are, the more you’ll realize how much control you have over yourself and the situations you are presented with.

What is the conscious mindset?

So what does it mean to have a conscious mindset? It involves actively examining situations that seem familiar, recognizing patterns of thought and behavior that might be holding you back, and making a conscious effort to change things. In essence, it’s all about choosing how you respond to stimuli – both physical and mental – that come into your life.

Part of having a conscious mindset is also recognizing when you’re not acting consciously. Most of us tend to revert to autopilot mode after a long day at work or school. If your mind tends to wander to other things when you’re supposed to be focused on the task at hand, this is a sign that you need to make an effort to stay in the moment.

What are the benefits of having a conscious mindset?

Being conscious also entails being aware of your own thoughts and feelings. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about a person or situation repeatedly, stop yourself. See the thought, and choose to let it go. This frees up mental space for more empowering thoughts.

Being conscious can help you connect with other people on a deeper level. Let’s spend time focusing on ourselves and what is happening inside of us every day. We become more attuned to our own feelings, desires, and needs. When we understand ourselves, we become more accepting of the people around us. We can then speak from a place of empathy and understanding rather than reacting from a place of fear or anger.

Having a conscious mindset can help you achieve your goals faster. When you have clear intentions for what you want in life, it becomes much easier to stop wasting time and energy on the things you don’t want. You become more driven toward your goals and end up taking better care of yourself because you’re living a life that is right for you.

How can you adopt a more conscious mindset in your own life? Consider these three steps.

The conscious mindset is how you look at your own personal situation. It includes understanding how your belief system has been created and then deciding what should change to create a more positive atmosphere for yourself. The first step toward changing your life begins with examining who you are right now. Once you do that, you can move forward and create a future that works better for your needs.

First, understand why you think the way you do right now. You should consider what has shaped these thoughts. No one just wakes up in the morning and decides that they would like to be unhappy or unfulfilled in their lives; instead, deep-rooted beliefs have built up over a long period, and those experiences create the basis for how you see your world.

Second, decide what you should change about that mindset to help yourself feel better. You may find that some changes could be made in how you think or behave right now, especially if any of your current beliefs are not helpful to you. There may be old ideas from your childhood that still influence how you make choices today, and those should be considered something worth changing.

Third, come up with a plan for putting those new changes into place. Deciding to make a few adjustments will not help if you don’t create a specific action plan to back up that intention. You should detail exactly what you need to do and in what order so that it becomes easier for you to visualize your desired outcome.

You can also employ other tactics while trying to achieve this mindset change, such as taking time out of each day to sit quietly and think about what you have done so far or what you would like to change about your current daily routine. You could also maintain a journal where you write down any personal insights that come to light during this time of introspection.

The conscious mindset is not always easy to achieve. Still, it can be accomplished relatively quickly and easily with some effort and regular practice.

What challenges do you face when trying to live more consciously??

The biggest challenge is getting out of autopilot. We all have automatic responses, some helpful and others unhelpful. When we go on autopilot, we tend to default to our less useful patterns and stories because they’re what we’re used to. Often we don’t even realize this is happening, mainly if it’s a pattern we live by for many years. To be more conscious, I need to notice when I’m on autopilot to get back into my conscious mindset.

How can you overcome these challenges?

When we start to practice noticing when we’re on autopilot and becoming more aware of our patterns, we gradually begin to see them in action all the time. It’s then that we have a chance to start consciously challenging these patterns instead of following them blindly, or worse still – without knowing what is going on. The best way to do this is with the help of mindfulness practices such as meditation and everyday mindfulness.

The most effective way for me is to take one small step at a time. It doesn’t work if I try to do too much or too drastically because my brain goes into panic mode and stops thinking clearly. One step at a time helps the brain relax. Always aim high but start small!

How to stay mindful/conscious?

My favorite way to stay conscious is by setting intentions for the day. My second tip would be to practice mindfulness throughout the day, which can be as simple as taking one deep breath, noticing a flower out of the corner of your eye, or hearing the wind in the trees. If you do this throughout the day, you’ll find your mind starts to relax, and it becomes easier to come back to this mindset.

How does living more consciously improve our life?

Living more consciously is about being aware of how we affect others and the planet on a moment-to-moment basis. By practicing mindfulness we can begin to live with

Conclusion

The conscious mindset is the most important mindset for success. It’s the only way to be in control of your life and make yourself better. You can’t let others do it for you or wait around for them to change their minds about you because they won’t. The key is to focus on how you want things to be instead of how they are right now, which will give you a sense of power over your situation. Your thoughts create reality, so if all you think about is what isn’t working, then that’s what will keep happening. If this sounds like too much work, consider taking up an instrument. Learning anything new activates the conscious mind and makes it stronger!

How to Build a Mental Resiliency Plan

We have all heard about resiliency to help with our mental health. But, what exactly is resiliency? And more importantly, how do we become more resilient? In this post, we will dive into how to build a mental resiliency plan.

What Is Resiliency?

Resilience is defined as a biological or psychological ability to cope with stress. It also includes the capacity to maintain a healthy emotional state when faced with challenges and adverse conditions. When we talk about resiliency in mental health, we are often talking about the second part of that definition, the capacity to maintain a healthy emotional state.

Resilience is how we cope emotionally with challenges and hardships. So, the bigger question becomes, how do we make ourselves more mentally resilient?

Many things can make us more resilient, but mental health professionals agree on some of the most important ones. Here are four key ways to help improve mental resilience:

1. Optimism

The first way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is through optimism. When faced with a difficult situation, it can be easy to become pessimistic and focus on the negative. But, mental health professionals suggest that you can become more resilient to mental illness symptoms by developing an optimistic attitude toward challenges.

There are many ways that you can become more optimistic. Mental health professionals suggest finding outlets for positive self-talk. It is essential to avoid using language that focuses on negativity, like “I will never get better.” Instead, mental health professionals suggest using language that focuses on the positive.

They also recommend that you take notice of small successes, like when you can go a day without using negative language and acknowledge them. Mental health professionals suggest increasing optimism by finding a creative outlet or learning something new. Using mental health techniques in your daily life also helps improve mental strength and resiliency to mental illness symptoms.

2. Purpose

The second way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is by finding purpose. This includes establishing goals that increase feelings of meaning in your daily life, like spending more time with loved ones or trying to get more exercise.

This is where finding a hobby can give your mind something else to focus on to help you find meaning in life. I know many people who suffer from depression, and this has helped them quite a lot. It gives them something to work for. I personally love to fly-fish or tie my own flies. It’s incredible how much better I feel after a morning spent in a river. The act of immersing myself in an activity that places me in the middle of nature with all of the sounds, smells, and sights has been incredibly beneficial for me.

Another great way to add purpose is to volunteer. Volunteering has long been shown to elevate mood and mental health in various ways. It can give you a sense of purpose and belonging. Doing good for others releases mental health chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, making us feel good. It can also increase social ties and provide a positive distraction from mental health struggles.

Having trouble finding volunteer opportunities? Check out your local Rotary club. Rotarians are a worldwide business organization, and professional leaders are united to create positive, sustainable change in their communities. If that isn’t for you, check out the local Kiwanis or Lions clubs. Both are community-oriented service organizations that strive to meet community needs. Through volunteer service, members develop leadership and team-building skills and a sense of personal responsibility and empowerment.

Working in the trenches as an adult can be deeply satisfying. Still, you can’t deny that there is something exceptional about volunteering. There’s just something extra rewarding about helping those in need and making a positive impact on your community and yourself in the process.

When mental health symptoms take over your life, it can be easy for your days to blend together and become unfulfilling. When this happens, you might lose focus on the most important things in your life. However, mental health professionals suggest that by finding meaning in your daily routine, you can improve mental resilience.

3. Positive mental health practices

The third way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is through positive mental health practices. This includes getting enough sleep every night, avoiding alcohol and drugs, eating good food, exercising daily, meditating or praying, and surrounding yourself with supportive people.

In my experience, this is the most challenging goal to accomplish for first responders, especially for police and firefighters. There is a closed culture that exists in these professions. The result is that our first responders tend to only associate and talk to other first responders. The result of this tight social circle is a lot of complaining.

Its human nature to sit around and complain about the organization or profession as a whole. At the end of the day, all of this complaining amounts to nothing. Nothing is changed, nothing is solved, and in fact, you’re left with more feelings of negativity and hopelessness.

To break that cycle:

  1. Expand your social circle.
  2. Join a new social circle.
  3. Join a running club.
  4. Join a Crossfit gym.
  5. Join a church group.

Literally anything. Just make sure it’s not filled with people in the same industry.

I tend to not talk ‘cop’ with other people when I’m off-duty. I made that change years ago, and my mental health has never been stronger.

4. Stable relationships

The fourth way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is through stable, positive relationships with others. This includes getting help from other people, whether your therapist or friends and family members. Having other supportive people in your life can help decrease mental illness symptoms and make you more resilient to mental health challenges.

Previously in this article, we talked about finding friends outside of your industry. Really commit to them. Find ways to open up and openly share with them so that you can stay mentally healthy. It’s about having healthier mental habits.

On the flip side, there are also unhealthy mental habits that you should try and stop. These include: trying to do everything yourself and never relying on others for help; avoiding talking about your mental health with others because of fear or shame; shutting down if someone confronts you – instead take their feedback and adapt it to your mental health habits.

Being resilient does not mean that you have to go it alone and always be okay. It actually means facing mental illness without falling apart or giving up hope that things will get better. Many mental health professionals can help with this journey, so do not hesitate to reach out for support.

Conclusion

As mental health professionals agree, resiliency is something that you can learn and improve upon. They suggest focusing on optimism, finding purpose in your daily routine, practicing positive mental health practices, and building good relationships with others as ways to increase mental resilience. As mental health symptoms decrease, mental strength and resiliency to mental illness symptoms increase too.