When it comes to taking care of ourselves, we often focus more on our physical wellness. When we’re told we should adapt healthy habits, most people think it will be too hard or too time consuming to even try. However, maintaining your mind is just as important as maintaining good eating or exercise habits.
It’s important to know that there are little things you can do every day to improve your mental health. Just like our body needs to get into a routine, so does our brain. Taking the steps to ensure a daily mental health routine that fits our lifestyle, is a great first step in making these new habits stick.
- Stay off social media – When you first wake up, it’s easy to reach for your phone ready to scroll through endless pictures. Many of us get wrapped up in the stream of our friends’ great night out or a family member flaunting her new car, but putting down the phone can help you reclaim your mornings for yourself. Forget the FOMO and take the time to meditate or read a chapter of a book instead. It’s easy to fall into the deep hole of comparing your body and life to others, especially when social media sucks you in.
- 10-minute yoga or stretching – Yoga isn’t just for “limber” people living in a beach house on the coast; it’s also a great way to wake your body up in the morning. Find a YouTube video or App and put aside 10 minutes to stretch and get your muscles ready for the day. Yoga increases endorphins, relieves stress, reduces inflammation, sharpens attention, and increases body awareness.
- Eat breakfast – And don’t just reach for that sugary granola bar or cup o’ joe. Set your alarm to wake up twenty minutes earlier so you can eat fruit, a healthy cereal, or some eggs. Whatever you choose, make sure it has a good amount of fiber and is not loaded with empty calories. This refreshes your brain and you’ll be happy when halfway through your day you’re not starving during your important meeting.
- Lay out everything – Being prepared in the morning is crucial to reduce stress and anxiety that may be induced by rushing before work. If you have everything you need for the day laid out – keys, wallet, water bottle, lunch, clothing, etc. – feelings of anxiousness can be decreased and you can feel more ready to take on the day.
- Reduce complaining – Okay this one might be the hardest on this list, but reducing the amount of times you complain about traffic, co-workers, family members, amount of work, and other little things can improve your mood and break this bad habit. While it’s great to unload built up stress, complaining just to complain and talking through a worry or frustration are two very different things. Complaining can make us feel powerless which inherently damages mental health if done too frequently.
- Organize your calendar – Keeping organized and writing down your ‘to-do’ list can help you feel less overwhelmed throughout your work day. Break up your calendar into work, personal, and life categories, so you don’t get stressed the next time your work starts to pile-up, or you miss a deadline. Keeping organized reduces stress, improves sleep and relationships, and reduces anxiety. Tracking your daily and weekly activities can also help you realize things you want to make more time for that bring you more happiness.
- Reach out – During the day, we often get sucked into our computers or phones, especially at lunch. Go for a walk, talk to someone new, or get to know the people in your department. Socializing can decrease feelings of isolation and lighten moods. This is important especially if your job is stressful or requires analytical work. Strengthening your social support system constantly challenges your brain to entertain new ideas.
- Healthy snacks – We all have experienced that feeling when 3pm rolls around and it’s been HOURS since lunch – or it at least feels like it has been. Keeping healthy snacks and water nearby can help conquer cravings so you don’t feel guilty for eating that extra bagel or piece of candy that happens to be in the office lunchroom.
- Listen to music – If you’re someone who commutes, you know how frustrating traffic can truly be. Listen to your favorite playlist or podcast while you drive so you can get your mind off being annoyed that you’re bumper-to-bumper. In some studies, listening to music while driving promoted safer behavior, improved focus, and lowered aggression.
- Eat dinner with family – Whether it is friends or family, sitting around the dinner table is important. Ditch the tablet or TV and talk with loved ones while you’re eating. Eating dinner together promotes familiarity, as well as the ability to reflect and share about your daily events. Some studies even state that eating with others can help people feel more connected, improve digestion, and reduce tendencies of overeating.
- Go for a walk – Walking before or after eating not only helps promote healthy digestion, but it increases endorphins, reduces stress, and promotes better sleep. When you sleep better, you can battle feelings of anxiety and depression more effectively. Getting fresh air also improves your overall mood. Walking outside in nature can also decrease your blood pressure levels.
- Sleep – Sleep may be one of the most important factors when it comes to achieving mental wellbeing. According to Harvard Health’s article, “…REM (rapid eye movement) sleep enhances learning and memory, and contributes to emotional health — in complex ways” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2009). As well as improving mental health, getting good sleep boosts your immune system functioning.
Mental Health and Fibroids
Dealing with chronic pain like uterine fibroids, can negatively impact your mental health. The daily stressors can take a toll on your overall mood, as well as your relationships causing you to feel isolated. Many women struggling with fibroids are forced to stay home, miss work, or cancel plans due to their symptoms. In addition, women may feel the burden of constantly worrying about bleeding through their clothing or having to plan their entire day around the closest restroom. In some cases, fibroids can negatively impact body image or your intimate relationships. Despite these every day struggles, these women are courageous fighters. Sometimes, all you need to be told is that you’re doing your best and dealing with your issues in the best way you know how.
In addition, it’s important to know that while you can implement these habits into your lifestyle, mental health includes a broad range of health concerns with various degrees of severity. Therefore, if you are feeling depressed or anxious, it is important that you reach out and find support. Sometimes, choosing healthy habits cannot fix the issue alone. Below we have listed various organizations and resources you can reach out to if you need additional assistance. Dealing with mental health issues can be isolating, but you are not alone.