Each May, we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month to fight stigma, share resources, and educate people about mental illness. This year’s theme, “Together for Mental Health,” seeks to shine a light on the increasing number of Americans experiencing mental health symptoms.
It’s comforting to know we’re not alone. In the spirit of MHAM, I’d like to share some of the habits that have helped me improve my mental health and well-being throughout the day.
In the Morning
When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you do? Hit the snooze? Look at your phone? Scream up at the ceiling?
We all have our morning routines, but some are more beneficial than others. I use my morning as a chance to zen out. That need to always be “logged in” can tug at our mental capacity, so I try not to start the day with it. Instead, I drink a cup of coffee while reading and writing down the things I’m grateful for — and I do it all without looking at my emails. Turning off notifications helps me better focus on the moment.
I aim to work out daily around lunchtime. If I’m ever feeling sluggish or unenthusiastic in the morning, a trip to the gym fixes that immediately.
While a burpee is the enemy of many a gym-goer, it does pay off in the long run. Exercising offers significant mental health benefits, such as improved concentration and memory, reduced stress and anxiety, and higher self-esteem.
Throughout the Day
I set up blocks of time for different projects and tasks; my calendar is color-coded with all kinds of things. If something distracts me, it can really derail my progress, so I make it a point to avoid those distractions by proactively setting up working hours. In the morning, I’m only reaching out to candidates and trying to avoid getting bogged down in things like email.
This method doesn’t work for every role, but try to take time every day for yourself. You just might be surprised by what you accomplish.
Additionally, I try to get up and walk around every hour. Since I work remotely, there are some days when my dogs are the only living beings I talk to face-to-face. Stepping outside to get some sun on my vampire skin offers an opportunity to clear my mind while gaining nutrients for my body, which helps reduce feelings of burnout and puts me in a better mood.
In the Evening
As the day winds down, I make it a point to shut my computer off for the evening. I cook dinner, or, if I feel I’ve had a great day, I reward myself by going out to eat. Find something you get excited about — for me, having a nice sit-down dinner at a restaurant makes me feel good.
Setting consistent stop times and rewarding yourself is a helpful way to overcome some of the stress and anxiety that we regularly face.
Relaxing at night is key for any bedtime routine. I know I need to have a minimum of nine hours of sleep, or else I won’t be as productive the next day.
To help achieve that goal, I’ve set my bedroom up to be a calming environment. I have a Tempurpedic mattress, a soft, flexible pillow, and have gotten very adept at wrapping myself up in a blanket. It’s like being a giant burrito.
I also listen to ASMR pulses — Relax Melodies is a wonderful app — to help unwind. I end up with a good night’s sleep and feel more refreshed when I wake up.
We encounter stressful situations nearly every day. By taking proactive steps, we can better navigate those situations as they arise.
Do you have a favorite way to relax? Share it in the comments below.