7 Essential Habits for Your Mental Health
While today is Mental Health Day, I think it is important to acknowledge that we need more than one day to pay attention to our mental health. The fact is every day should be mental health day.
To encourage you to incorporate mental health in your day-to-day living, I have created a list of 7 essential habits that will support your overall well-being. This is by no means an exhaustive list. These habits are a great foundation that you can add onto once you feel you have the essentials down.
Take one behavior at a time. Once you feel you have a good pattern going, incorporate the next habit.
Habit 1: Sleep. Getting a good night’s rest is imperative to feeling good. Without adequate sleep, you are more likely to be cranky and your brain functioning is going to be depleted. If you have trouble getting to sleep, try stepping away from all electronic devices for at least an hour before bed. Let your body know it is time to start slowing down by incorporating a bath, gratitude journal, or reading.
Habit 2: Exercise. Moving your body each and every day is important for your mental and physical health. Physical exercise boosts your endorphins that support you to feel better. The exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous, just as long as you move your body.
Habit 3: Healthy Eating. Forget diets. Instead, eat to nurture your body. This isn’t about being strict with what you eat, but more about listening to what your body needs in order to feel good. Before you reach for the junk food, remember the last time you ate it and how sick it made you feel. It’s common to believe that eating the junk food was somehow pleasant but if you are really honest with yourself, it left you feeling gross and tired. The reason this often happens is that type of food is designed for you to eat too much of it and so of course, you don’t feel well. Notice that doesn’t happen when you choose foods that are healthy for you and choose those options as much as possible. Your gut health is tied to your mental health, so give your mind the nourishment it needs to feel it’s best.
Habit 4: Nature. Getting outside without any electronic devices attached to you does wonders for your mental and emotional well-being. The more your life requires you to be connected to a device, the more you need this time to be in nature. By noticing the trees and its leaves, the flowers, the grass, or any natural water elements, the more you put your mind at ease. Plus, allowing the natural sunlight on your body in the early morning or toward the end of your day can be helpful to receive natural vitamin D.
Habit 5: Acknowledge & Receive Your Feelings. This one can be the most difficult, but it is also most likely to move the needle when it comes to your emotional well-being. Negative feelings have been sorely misunderstood, and because of this, it is easy to want to avoid them. However, if you want to feel better, acknowledging and receiving the insight from your negative feelings is important. Receiving your emotions from an empowered perspective gets you back on track to feeling better.
Habit 6: Easy on the Alcohol. Substances that alter your brain chemistry are designed to feel good in the moment, but wreck havoc on your long-term health. For those of you who run anxious, alcohol usually amplifies your anxiety the next day because you are more likely to question yourself for your behaviors or what you said. For those of you who struggle with depression, alcohol is a depressant that continues to make one feel bad about oneself long after the initial drink. There’s a Sober Curious movement that isn’t about completely abstaining, but radically reducing in order for people to feel their best internally. Fortunately, more and more companies are providing options for those who want to be out socially, alcohol free. Give this a try and see for yourself how good and clear you feel!
Habit 7: Rest & Reflect. One day, each week should be about allowing yourself time to restore and be still. This quiet time allows you to be a human-being, not a human-doing. Utilize this time to think about or journal all that you are grateful for in your life. This is also a prime time to contemplate how you are feeling as an individual, as well as the components of your life that bring you happiness. This is how you can consciously create a life that works for you, rather than continuously go from one to-do list item to the next. This time is also imperative in order that you can think about if any of the above habits that may feel impossible for you to integrate. If that’s the case, be curious as to what might have to change in order to live a life that supports your overall health and well-being.
Above all, I invite you to remember that your mental health is guiding you to recognize that you matter. These basic habits are the way you demonstrate to yourself that you and your well-being are important. No matter where you are with incorporating these habits, honor yourself for being willing to make changes that improve your overall health. These habits aren’t about being perfect, but about creating the foundation that allows you to be and feel your best.
Here’s to everyday being Mental Health Day because everyone deserves these foundational habits of health each and every day!