A recent article on LiveScience.com discusses Nine DIY Ways to Improve Your Mental Health.
Here are some key takeaways for graduate students:
Use social media wisely. In general, having social connections is linked to better mental health. However, maintaining friendships over Facebook and other social media sites can be fraught with problems. Some research suggests that reading other people's chipper status updates makes people feel worse about themselves.
Time on social networking sites has been linked to depressive symptoms and increased anxiety. The best bet, researchers say, is to take advantage of the connectivity conferred by social media, but to avoid making Facebook or Twitter your entire social life.
Look for meaning, not pleasure. Imagine a life of lounging by the pool, cocktail in hand. Paradise? Not necessarily. A 2007 study found that people are actually happier in life when they take part in meaningful activities rather than focusing on hedonism. Great news for grad students!
Studies have found that when people participated in personally meaningful activities such as helping other people or pursuing big life goals, the happier and more satisfied they felt. Seeking pleasure didn't boost true happiness. So, when you are spending yet another weekend night behind a desk, reminding yourself of your long-term goals may help.
Worry (some), but don't vent. Scheduling your "worry time" to a single, 30-minute block each day can reduce worries over time. Venting about stresses, however, appears to make people feel worse about life, not better.
Learn not to sweat the small stuff. Daily irritations are part of life, but they can also wear us down. "It's important not to let everyday problems ruin your moments," said study researcher Susan Charles, a psychologist at UC Irvine. "After all, moments add up to days, and days add up to years."