It’s not just mental health. These steps improve your physical health as well.
Since most modern coping/self-help literature seems to be focused on averting ill-defined misery of the sort for which there is no clear cause, I throw out my simple suggestion based on what’s helped me battle anomie.
Walk everywhere. If you live in a place where you can’t walk to get things you need for life, then move. If you have a job that prevents you from walking, buy yourself a wireless headset and/or wireless tablet and start walking. If your boss objects, flip him/her the bird. That situation is trying to kill you. Defend yourself. It’s your duty as an organism. Walk. Just walk.
Try walking 10,000 steps a day.
There is research showing that after a brisk walk our brains are much more active. When I saw this I realized why at times in previous programming jobs I would need to just get up and walk around the block to get past a problem. It was a great strategy when I was working at a place like the former Northern Automotive building in central Phoenix, surrounded as it was by lawns and gracious homes. It wasn’t as good when I was working in various hellhole industrial parks and high-security finance buildings. My job satisfaction was — in retrospect — directly linked to the freedom I had to walk.
Through the misery of realizing my true weaknesses, and through the challenges I’ve faced in the last year, there have been times when I’ve just said “Screw it. I wanna stay in bed. I’ll go to the gym later.” That’s bad. That’s the first domino. Because as the brain loses its external stimulation and starts to stew in a sauce of stress-related hormones, one finds oneself less inclined to do anything. And one starts to consider oneself rather useless, I’m afraid.
I read a piece on Forbes (I believe) laying out for high-stress, hard-driving executives the ROI statement for taking 30 minutes each morning to walk, extolling the potential benefits for the bottom line. Well, I suppose to get the gig the writer needed to translate into terms that a mind possessed by an infantile greed could understand. I would just have said “Walk, or you will go crazy. And then you will die.” Of course, then I would have gotten responses from angry readers saying “YOU DIDN’T EXPLAIN HOW THIS WOULD AFFECT THE BOTTOM LINE, LABRIE! WHY SHOULD I DO THIS, AND EXPLAIN IN TERMS OF STANDARD ACCOUNTING PRACTICES, PLEASE!”
But. . . Whatever. . .
Anyway: Walking has been good to me. Every morning I get out of bed, take a mile-or-so jaunt around my neighborhood, and take pictures. Each morning I post one to Instagram with the line “Good morning.” I’ve been pretty shocked at how quick and numerous the responses are from my followers. I think some of them are vicariously walking with me. I’m flattered, but I also hope they are taking time to walk themselves.
You can follow me on Instagram at billlabrie if you like. I post other pics on there as well. Sometimes there’s even cleavage (but not mine. Sorry).
Every journey begins with a single step. Start on the 10,000 today.
And be well.
* * * * *
Another thing you can do to improve your mental health — maybe: Buy my debut novel. It’s at www.diamondtbook.com