50 minutes a week. As a psychotherapist, this is the typical amount of time I spend with each of my clients depending on their need. That leaves 10,030 minutes left in the week without face-to-face therapy. Thankfully, there are plenty of mental health resources available on phone apps and the Internet to fill those thousands of minutes if necessary. People can download multiple free resources to help with anxiety, depression, self-love, and motivation. These adjunctive resources can truly support and enhance your well-being and quality of life if used productively. Even if you’re not struggling with symptoms of anxiety or depression, many of these downloadable resources can help you learn more effective ways to manage stress, how to regulate emotions, and ways to increase joy and happiness. Studies have shown that we are spending an increasing amount of time on our phones and the Internet. Why not spend some of this time learning ways to enhance our quality of life and improve our mental health? One of the best part of most mental health resources is they do not cost anything, and we have everything to gain by using them.
The Internet has a seemingly endless amount of mental health resources. This list is not an inclusive compilation, but includes some of the most popular, effective, and useful resources.
Thought Record Log
Thoughts influence our mood which also influence our behavior. When our automatic thinking patterns are negative, this may contribute to an increased level of anxiety or fear. Thought record logs are amazing tools to analyze the evidence for and against our automatic thoughts. Once we realize there is evidence that goes against our automatic negative thoughts, we are able to create a new, realistic, alternative thought. Writing these thoughts down in a thought record log can be extremely helpful in changing an anxious pattern of thinking.
How we spend our time directly affects our mood. What activities contribute to your sadness? What about joy? An activity monitoring worksheet can help you understand what activities allow you to feel different emotions. Begin by starting to track your activities and mood. You may find that time spent outdoors makes you feel calm and refreshed, or you may discover you are a person that needs time alone to feel happiness. Rate your mood on a scale of 0-10 on the hour and write down what activity you were engaged in. Then, you can determine what kinds of activities lead to feelings of happiness, sadness, or anger.
Activities List: Pleasure and Mastery
This list consists of various activities that tend to increase a sense of pleasure and mastery. Mastery is the level of control, skill, or knowledge of a subject. When we feel a sense of mastery in achieving a somewhat difficult task, we feel accomplished and pleased with ourselves. The activity list can be a great resource to consult if a depressed or sad mood arises.
Sad, mad, happy. Is this the extent of your emotional vocabulary? If so, practice looking at an emotion wheel or comprehensive list of emotion words. Describing and articulating exactly how we are feeling can actually reduce very intense, unwanted emotions.
Identify Emotional Triggers
We all have environmental or personal triggers that contribute to powerful feelings. These triggers are important to know so we can react effectively and regulate emotions. Perhaps you find yourself getting extremely irritated when somebody talks to you in a childish manner. Maybe you are aware that you are prone to anger when you are very hungry or tired. These emotional triggers can be very beneficial to know about yourself. There are various forms of “Identifying Emotional Triggers” worksheets online to use.
For Joy, Happiness, & Self-Love:
Studies show that those who practice gratitude have lower levels of stress and depression. Social relationships also thrive when gratitude becomes a valued part of daily life. Write down 5-10 things you are grateful for in a gratitude journal each morning or night. Instead of vaguely writing “friends and family,” try being more specific for things you are thankful for in your life. As gratitude becomes a habitual part of your daily experience, so will optimism, joy, and an increased sense of self-acceptance.
Values and priorities play a significant role in our lives. When we fail to act in accordance with our values, we may feel guilt or disappointment. Similarly, when somebody else does not hold the same values, relationships can begin to feel strained. It is important to be clear about your values and how they impact your life. They can help guide your actions. If you find you are not living up to your values as much as you would like, try making small goals to begin living your desired value. Goals can be accomplished; values cannot. There is never an end destination to a value; it is similar to going west. You will never reach west; you can always keep going. There are a multitude of different values and priorities list on the Internet. See which values speak to you and how you would like to incorporate them into your life.