Preventative care is all the rage in medicine these days, and with good reason. It works. There are things you can do to improve your physical well-being and when you do them everything from cholesterol numbers to disease risk can be reduced or prevented. The same is true for prevention in mental health matters. There are adjunct therapist and preventative measures we can take to both support mental health and boost therapeutic efforts like counseling and medication.
That said, I know everyone is after the quick fix these days. It can be hard to give up old habits or create new ones on the promise that someday things will get better. It may seem overwhelming to take on too much at once, especially without seeing results fast.
While these tips won’t work overnight (seriously, does anything?!) if you give them a go for 7 days I promise you’ll see and feel a difference in your mental wellness. If all 10 are too much at once pick a few you feel you can manage or that will target your specific needs and start with those.
- I’m positive you’ve heard this a million times before. Exercise boosts feel good neurotransmitters. It relieves stress and acts as a natural antidepressant of sorts. It isn’t necessary to jump around and spend an hour doing it. Yoga has been found to have great effects on mental and physical health. Vinyasa yoga that has constant movement linked with breath is my personal favorite. I’m a fan of both yogavibes.com & gaia.com where you can find a practice that fits your abilities and your schedule from home.
- Start taking lunch breaks. This is something we’ve let fall by the wayside but is really important to our work performance and how we approach problems and handle stress at work. Check out this blog on why lunch is uber important.
- Journal every night about the nice things you did for others during the day. This may seem cheesy, but doing this at night is a serious self-worth and self-esteem booster. This exercise helps kick self-esteem into a higher gear. You may think you barely do anything that could make this list, but think about it. Opening doors, smiling at strangers, or helping a coworker put away chairs all count and most of us hardly think about these “little things”.
- Journal every morning about what you’re grateful for. The saying goes that “an attitude of gratitude promotes happiness.” True! Research in the field of positive psychology shows that people who do this boost their happiness. Happiness lends itself to higher productivity overall.
- Perform a daily random act of kindness. Science shows that we get a feel-good buzz from these acts and they help our fellow humans. Bonus: this can go on your list of nice things you did during the day.
- Get some sunlight. Many of us spend most of our time indoors. In Texas I find myself outside just long enough to sprint to my car to avoid the heat during summer and that isn’t enough. It’s important to have some sun every day. It helps boost vitamin D, which has been found at lower levels in people with depression. Sun also helps support healthy serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter some research links with depression.
- Begin your day with protein. Feeling sluggish in the mornings can put a damper on the whole day. Add to this that often times sugary foods are the ones we reach for as breakfast and a recipe for crash and burn is made. A protein based breakfast can help keep energy levels smooth as your morning kicks off and prevents the sugar crash later in the morning.
- Hug someone. Hugging others increases the bonding hormone oxytocin and solidifies our bonds with those we love. Touching is important to connection and connection is what humans are designed for! If you don’t have a person in your vicinity to hug, grab a hug from Fido or FeFe!
- Doodle, color, paint, or draw. We’ve all seen and heard the buzz on the adult coloring book craze. There is merit to it. These calming activities help tame stress and anxiety.
- Get some sleep. We’re busier than ever and sleeping less and less. Train your body’s clock by getting some sun first thing in the morning. At least an hour before you’d like to be asleep kill the TV, tablet, and phone. Choose reading as a pre-bed activity and avoid all sources of “blue light”. The blue light put out by electronics is a complete zap on the brain’s ability to shut down and allow you a sound snooze.
If you’re in Texas and you find that you need some help getting through life’s tough spots, reach out! I provide in person and online sessions that will definitely fit into your schedule and your budget.
Wishing you wellness,