Is it hard to believe we are roughly halfway through the year? Summer is a great time to take a step back, take a couple of breaths, and consider how things are going so far. Did you attempt some of your New Year’s resolutions? Are you surprised about how much progress has been made in a certain area of your life? What are the things that you know you can accomplish in the Fall?

If you feel behind, don’t worry – as I like to say, “The best time to start is January 1st, the second best time to start is Today.”

Science shows that a powerful way to reduce stress (and improve your mood) is by practicing satisfaction, or contentment. Did you know that satisfaction can actually be learned, like many other mental health skills? Satisfaction, it turns out, is as much about your perception, as it is about the outcome.

When I think of satisfaction, for some reason I think about those crusty football coaches, who never crack a smile even after winning a championship. Even with the best outcome imaginable, their perception doesn’t allow them to be satisfied. And while that’s fine for them to stay motivated, I think it’s probably ok for us to express some satisfaction every once and a while. 

Reduce Stress with This Thought Exercise

A simple way to think about satisfaction is that it comes by providing value – to yourself, others, your community, and to everyone you interact with.

Here’s some ways that you can think about satisfaction, in a slightly different way:

Providing value to yourself:  Once a day, pick an area that you are proud of in your life, and say it out loud.  “I’m proud of the way I calmly handled that conversation with a coworker.”

Providing value to others:  A simple way to practice satisfaction by providing value to others is by literally showing up – texting a friend to see how they are doing, calling a parent, playing with your child whatever game they want to play, just to list a few examples. 

Providing value to your community:  One of the best ways to increase your own satisfaction is by helping others through volunteering. Community service has to be one of the most impactful and least utilized methods to reduce stress!

Providing value to customers, students, patients, or coworkers: Don’t let your work get in the way of your job. When I can connect the value I’m providing to my daily actions at work, I find that I’m in a much better spirit when I leave the office for the day. Yes, most of us work to get paid, but if you look hard enough, you’ll find that there’s another outcome to our work beyond just our paycheck – don’t stop looking!

What could you day look like if you spent some time on these questions? At ACAP, we believe in taking care of your brain health just as much as your physical health. Check out our mental health solutions.

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