How often do you feel lonely, anxious, stressed or worried? In those times, can you honestly say you take proper care of yourself and devote enough time to mental wellness? It can be difficult to prioritize, but mental health is a key component of a total, holistic approach to wellness.
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, now is the time to add to your mental wellness toolbox and improve upon the routines and practices in your daily repertoire. While life is overwhelming at times, understanding how to care for your well-being, both inside and out, helps us cope during difficult times and even prevent downward spirals before they begin.
Routine is a great way to accomplish tasks, tell ourselves when to go wind down for the evening or ensure our day-to-day health is taken care of. Consider the times of day routine might benefit you most—would knowing the steps to start your day be helpful? If so, write them down. Perhaps a good stretch comes first, then brushing your teeth, and readying for the day.
At the end of the day, it can also be difficult to fall asleep or relax. If we’re feeling stressed or anxious, it’s even harder. The good news is you can create a routine that tells your brain it’s time to go to sleep. Dimming the lights, reading a book, setting your alarm and moving your phone to another room, taking a shower and using skincare products are all behaviors that can build a nightly routine.
After a stressful week, you may want to start Monday on a more positive note. Sundays can be used to prepare and rest. Consider journaling, meditation, or finalizing your to-do list or planner Sunday evening. This will help you focus on your priorities for the week ahead.
There are dozens of places and times where we can create routine in our personal and professional lives, and the benefits are many. Routine tells us when it’s time to sleep, wake up, and be productive. It also takes some stress out of the day. If we know what to expect and what comes next, there’s no need to overthink or put so much effort into our choices.
Spending Time Outdoors
Experiencing nature boosts emotional and mental wellness, no matter where you live. Seeing greenery, wildlife, flowers and plants is calming and being outdoors encourages physical activity, too.
As with many things in 2020, safety precautions are paramount due to the COVID-19 outbreak, so consider wearing a mask, washing your hands when you’re back indoors and choosing outdoor spaces with as few people as possible. Physical distancing is important even outdoors, and creating a cozy hangout space in your backyard or common outdoor area counts as getting outside. So does potting new plants or going for a walk in the park.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, it is possible to safely enjoy time outdoors.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
There is never any shame in asking for help. It can feel scary to reach out to a therapist or mental health professional, but sometimes an expert is exactly what we need.
Many therapists are offering Zoom calls or phone and video chats while people safely practice physical distancing. Others work completely from mobile apps, lowering the barrier and making therapy more accessible. Other mobile apps help you journal, track mood and deliver mental health tips to your phone, an option that feels like less of a commitment than going to weekly appointments with a therapist.
If you find yourself feeling stressed, sad, anxious or angry most of the time, you may need the help of a professional. And that’s totally okay—getting the help you need keeps you at your best for yourself and others.
Stop Socially Distancing
It sounds counterintuitive, but hear us out. The WHO recently clarified the difference between physical and social distancing. Feeling isolated and alone is bad for our mental health and wellness; humans crave relationships and social connection.
Set up phone calls with friends, or simply use voice message features to feel closer than a text. If video chats feel overwhelming, stay active in group chats or join an online community for a hobby you love. There are Facebook groups, Discord servers and more for everything from video games to reading to outdoor activities. Staying socially connected to close friends while making new ones is possible online!
Rest Up, Really
It may come as a surprise, but doing nothing isn’t the same as deeply resting. There is a time and place for doing absolutely nothing and sleeping in—we encourage it! But rest comes when we meditate, journal, watch the rain, and generally spend time being a little more mindful.
Many of us feel the need to be “on” all the time, always thinking, doing, imagining, or trying to be productive. In fact, it can feel bad to turn “off,” because we’re scared we’ll lose control, lose an opportunity or be judged for taking time off. Now more than ever, we can’t listen to that narrative.
Deep rest is essential for our health. Consider using a weekend day as a mini staycation, and take time for yoga, a walk, an at-home spa treatment, etc. Restful activities mixed with introspection and reflection is a sure-fire formula to help you recharge and reset.
It’s no exaggeration to say stress levels are up around the world. All things considered, it's understandable why people are anxious. That’s why it’s so incredibly important to make mental health and wellness a part of your day.
Every day, we can choose to do activities that make us happy, be kind to ourselves, (and others), and take some time to recharge. When we do, we’re honoring all the best parts of ourselves. This Mental Health Awareness Month, make sure you’re taking care not just of your physical self, but of your emotional and mental well-being too.