Quick Guide: Evidence-Based Mental Health Hacks
Though sometimes it can feel impossible to step outside of our feelings when we’re experiencing mental health challenges, there are so many tried and true (and research-backed) tools you can call on to get through the moment. When you’re feeling down or anxious and need a quick, effective tool to boost your mental health, call on today’s article.
When we’re feeling exceptionally high anxiety, or if we’ve found ourselves disassociating (drifting outside of ourselves, in a sense), one of the most effective ways to cope with this is to return to the present moment. To ground ourselves, we can do the “5 Things” exercise:
Notice 5 things that you can SEE
Notice 4 things that you can TOUCH
Notice 3 things that you can HEAR
Notice 2 things that you can SMELL
Notice 1 thing that you can TASTE
To boost this activity, get really detailed about the sense: when you see something, can you pick out the different colors, textures, shapes, and so on? Is the sound you hear near or far? As we begin to dial into our environment, we’re able to remove ourselves from our physical sensations and ground back in the moment.
“I’m Noticing,” or Cognitive Defusion
In case our name wasn’t obvious enough, we’re big fans of “Reframing” things around here. One of the ways we can do this is with the thoughts that come up for us; when we experience a thought (“I’m worthless,” for example), instead of accepting that thought as reality, we can notice the thought with curiosity. “I’m worthless” turns into “I’m noticing I feel worthless right now”—there’s a shift in intensity when we add a few additional words to our thought, effectively “turning down the volume” on the thought. The more we practice this kind of thinking, the more our brains pick up on it and default to it later on.