1. Look people in the eye. For more than two seconds. Don’t stress about the fact that it can feel really uncomfortable, that’s normal. Just give it a moment or two and see if you feel any differently.
2. Start paying attention to where your thoughts go when your mind has time to wander. The more you become aware of your own stream of consciousness, the more you can control the negative thoughts that seep in.
3. Eat something (a full meal, a protein bar, even just a bite of chocolate) without staring at your phone or watching television or working on your computer. Just eat.
4. While working, look up from your computer every thirty minutes and force your eyes to stare at something other than a screen – just for a few moments. It’s a nice way to keep yourself from falling into a dark mental hole of emails and deadlines and a million other mini stressors.
5. Focus on one thing at a time. When you’re checking email, only check email. When you’re watching a movie or show, only watch the movie or show. When you’re taking a walk, just give yourself a break and take the damn walk. You’ll end up saving a lot of time and gaining a lot of mental energy.
6. Ask somebody how their day was and really listen. Do not allow yourself to prepare a single response ahead of time. That way, you’re allowing yourself to absorb what they’re saying, without having to remember what you’ll say when they’re done.
7. Whether you’re driving or taking public transportation, give yourself a few minutes of silence on your commute to work. Even two to three minutes of not listening to music and not being on your phone can make you feel more in tune with yourself.
8. Smile at people. It’s free.
9. As you’re lying in bed, make a list of a few things you’re thankful for that happened to you today. It’s way easier than having to write it down (thereby making you more likely to stick with it) and you’ll end up falling asleep with positive thoughts swimming around in your brain.
10. Read a book. A real, physical book. There’s nothing wrong with e-readers and with browsing articles online. But something about touching physical pages in your hand will connect you with the young version of yourself, the one who first experienced the feeling of feeding your brain with knowledge.
11. Do nothing for five minutes. Seriously. It feels impossible at first. Keep trying. The more you practice the better you’ll get. And your brain will thank you.
12. Purge your room. Get rid of all the stuff you don’t need (which is, honestly, most of it). It may seem counterintuitive, but you’re actually happier when you have less shit.
14. Spend some time outside. Maybe nature walks aren’t your thing, but just giving your lungs the chance to breathe air that’s different from the kind inside your house or your office will be a refreshing break, whether you realize it or not.
15. Try to look at sudden emotions with a little bit of logic. It’s obviously difficult, but when you feel a rush of anger or frustration or hysterics coming on unexpectedly, give yourself a minute before you react. Sometimes it can actually help you understand where your feelings are coming from. Other times, doing this doesn’t help at all, because hey, none of us are perfect. But it’s worth a shot.
16. When you’re listening to music, try to pick out the more subtle rhythms and instruments that are being used. It’ll remind you that there’s a lot that your brain doesn’t pick up on the first time around.
17. Live every day like it’s your first day in a new city. Look around, take a different route, watch people. You’ll notice a lot more than you expected to.