For most of us that first step towards better mental health is usually the hardest. Because of this, I wanted to make a list of healthy habits that doesn’t feel overwhelming while still offering guidance that works. If you only pick up one habit from this list, it’s still a win. Remember, it’s always about progress over perfection. So even if you just read this article and nothing more today, then you took a positive, active step towards better mental health and that’s a win too.
10. Get Up And Move Around
While exercise is a wonderful way to regulate our system and maintain better mental health, it can be a challenge for people under a great amount of stress. You can start moving towards an exercise routine by just getting up from your desk and walking around a bit. Even if you don’t start a workout routine it is still very beneficial to incorporate into your day. Regularly getting up and stretching, breathing deep, and walking around will help prevent your muscles from getting knotted. This in turn will reduce the likelihood that your body will become overstressed.
9. Prioritize Sleep
We all want better sleep, but it’s not ever as easy to implement as it sounds. What you should try to do instead of attempting a perfect sleep schedule, is simply prioritize sleep. Put sleep before your favorite show’s season finale. Put it before a late night phone call. And always use your device(s) snooze features to ensure you aren’t awoken by notifications before you’re ready to be. Other things in line with this are; setting your coffee maker, getting your outfit together, or taking a shower before bed to make getting up in the morning easier and therefore maintaining a more regular sleep schedule.
8. Make Weekly Schedules
If you are struggling with mental health issues like anxiety, ADHD, or depression you probably get overwhelmed by your goals or your inability to reach them. One great way to tackle accomplishing your goals, is to set weekly schedules for yourself. Accomplish small tasks weekly that inch you closer to reaching your goals. What’s important here is not to make a weekly schedule that you know will overwhelm you. You know yourself, so don’t start off by doing too much. The worst thing you can do is set yourself up for failure. Instead, give yourself daily, or semi-weekly small tasks.
7. Make Lists Of Uncompleted Tasks
If you get to a place where you are no longer able to complete something, like let’s say the day runs away from you and there are important tasks that you don’t want to forget about. Make a list. Write out each thing you are worried that you won’t complete, and that way you will know what you need to deal with when you have time to deal with it.
6. Regular Affirmations
When you accomplish tasks, or reach goals be sure to reward yourself with positive thinking. Also, remind yourself often what you think you are good at, what you like about yourself, and what you are grateful for in your life. You may not notice this working for a while and at first it can feel really unnatural, but after some time you will start to notice that that mean voice inside your head gets quieter and quieter and that will make a big difference in your ability to manage the struggles life throws at you.
5. Be Patient With Yourself
When you make mistakes or fail, be patient with yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would to a 5 year old who just made a mistake. Would you call a 5 year old horrible names? Or instead, would you say something like; “better luck next time kid, you can’t win um all.”
Alternatively, give yourself plenty of time to get well and don’t try to make your story similar to others. One way we sabotage our own progress is by comparing ourselves to others. Your story, like you, is unique. Let your story play out in as much time as it needs to.
4. Don’t Procrastinate
If you have a simple task in front of you, like picking some things up off of the ground, just do it. If you have to do your taxes but you really don’t want to find out if you owe money or not, just do the taxes. The longer you put things off the more things begin to accumulate and pretty soon you’ll be staring at an insurmountable stack of to-do’s with absolute fear, dismay, and confusion about where to begin. Instead, start small, and start right now. Inching away at the things you need to take care of is progress and after each completed task you will feel better. If you do procrastinate, just write out the tasks you were planning to get done, or better yet schedule a time for yourself to get this task done so you can enjoy your procrastination time.
3. Leave Room For Things To Change
Pay attention to your workload and make adjustments as needed. If you are regularly unable to do your tasks, try spreading out the tasks, or making them smaller. If you have plans but start feeling anxious when it’s time for you to meet an obligation, allow yourself to make adjustments as you need to. It’s not a good idea to put yourself into situations that you feel like you can’t get out of, and often we feel we are trapped in situations due to social pressures, but those are really all in your mind. You can always change the plan as you need to, just remember that.
2. Treat Yourself
Keep treats in the house that you enjoy, for me it’s dark chocolate. I eat a little when I’m stressed, or sad, or celebrating a minor win. For you, it might be your favorite bath soak, or a candle, or your favorite chips. Ensure you have some little thing that you enjoy each day as a treat because it tells you and the people you live with that you’re valuable. It might seem selfish, but as long as you aren’t over indulging in something there’s no reason for you to give up something that makes you happy in a small way. It’s not selfish, it’s self care.
1. Prioritize Your Mental Health
Finally, the most obvious sounding habit can be the hardest to implement. What I mean when I say prioritize your mental health, is put your mental health before everything else. What I specifically mean, is that if you have to make a decision between any obligation and putting yourself into distress, your decision can never be to place yourself in distress, not unless it is an emergency and unavoidable situation. If you have to go to work, but you are struggling to get out of bed that day due to your mental state, you need to choose your mental health over going to work that day. If you are in a relationship with a person who regularly places you in distressing situations, or you often feel stressed because of their demands, then you need to prioritize your mental health.over their feelings. Your mental health is more important than work or anyone you love, because you are the only person who can manage it and if it’s not being managed you can’t be an effective worker or a healthy partner. Taking care of ourselves, it turns out, isn’t all that romantic, or heroic, but it is necessary and you’ll have more life satisfaction when you have healthier habits.