Practical Mental Health Tips

Found this 22-minute article that's a mix of personal story, science of mental health, and practical tips.

It's also a "companion piece" for an interactive story game called "Adventures with Anxiety"

Here is the TL;DR

  • Do not fear fear itself
  • Pain is a protector
  • Fear is a guard dog for your needs
  • All feelings are imperfect signals about met/unmet needs
  • Our fundamental human needs are: physical needs, social needs, "becoming a better person" needs
  • Healthy people don't "cope" with emotions, they collaborate with them. They use "negative emotions as clues, constructive criticism to improve their lives
  • If your fear guard-dog is too hyperactive, don't shoot the dog! Retrain it by forming habits
  • Habit = When X, Then Y
  • To form habits, have a consistent "When" and simple "Then". Track your progress for ~66 days. One habit at a time.
  • Physical health affects mental health & vice versa. Hardware affects software, software affects hardware
  • 9 mental health habits for your software & hardware:
    • Meditation: goal is to observe your mind non-judgementally. Just listen. Observe.
    • Journaling: write about your emotions and try to understand them
    • Sleep: there's a reason why natural selection knocks us out 1/3 of our lives
    • Exercise: reduces depression as much as psychotherapy or medication
    • Eat: gut bacteria makes 95% of your body's serotonin, if they're happy, you're happy
    • Talk with friends: make friendship a habit, meet outside of usual context, talk about thoughts & feelings, explaining emotions -> understanding emotions
    • Make new friends: ask friends to introduce you to their friends, join meetups
    • Learning: pick something and set aside time to learn, use deliberate practice
    • Practicing virtues: Benjamin Franklin strived to improve his moral character by tracking his progress of practicing virtues.