Mental health can be a draining and often overwhelming topic to understand and work through. For some of you, mental wellness is only a dreamy vision in the future that you hardly believe will come to fruition. Whether for a few minutes, a few months, or years at a time, depression, anxiety, and other mental challenges can feel like you’re going through life with a boulder chained to your legs. It can be a daily battle motivating yourself to do the bare necessities and organize your thoughts, emotions, and regular activities on a consistent basis.
Whether you are struggling to get out of bed almost every morning, or you experience stress trying to manage your daily life as you go, there is hope! Of course, I can tell you to exercise and take drastic steps that require a lot of research and dedication. Those things can certainly help, but if you are feeling overwhelmed with what is already on your plate, you need small, simple steps to help you get to that stage in your mental wellness routine.
Take note that I call it a routine and not a journey. Mental health management is not a path you embark on with a destination you’ll remain at for the rest of your life. It is learning your mind, and your patterns. It’s teaching yourself to make provisions that will help you sail through calm and stormy waters with a plan, with peace in your soul.
When you have a physical injury such as a broken leg, medical professionals almost always prescribe physical therapy, a regiment of exercises to gently remind the affected parts of the body what their functions are, encouraging them to return to their normal state, or as close to normal as they can be. The same should occur with your mental health. Studying your mental patterns will help you learn when you’re about to hit a downward slope. If you have a few peak days where you feel on top and balanced, but you suddenly start to feel depression creeping in, with the right habits and resources in places, you will be able to nip it in the bud with the quickness!
You are not alone in this battle. I want to offer you 5 tips to add to your mental therapy routine for your emotional wellbeing, requiring minimal effort, and optimal perspective, balance, and peace.
1. Bite Sized Goals
Breaking your goals down into attainable pieces will destroy the giants in your daily planning. If you need to clean the house, clean it in 15-minute chunks. Schedule 15 minutes to load the dishwasher and wipe down the counters. Don’t look at the dishes and remember you need to buy more soap, so you go to make a grocery list and decide to clean the junk drawer out and organize your mail and scrub the floors when you realize the trash needs to go out and so on. You know what I’m talking about!
Dedicate that time to emptying and loading the dishwasher only. Be proud of that accomplishment. You will accomplish more by focusing on one task, seeing it to completion. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Fulfilling your baby steps is more powerful than allowing your mind to consume you and doing nothing at all. You may even find yourself motivated to work on the next baby increment, perhaps another 15 minutes working on picking up loose items around the house.
2. Checklists and Journaling
Writing down your thoughts randomly, without neatness or organization gives you a moment to feel your emotions. It is so important to acknowledge your feelings and emotions instead of ignoring them. This is a crucial exercise to help you understand yourself and catch patterns and stressors in your behavior, surroundings, and thoughts. By journaling your thoughts you may identify toxic things in your life and negative thoughts that are choking the joy out of your life, skewing the brightness of your reality. This is a great habit to instill in yourself whether you are kicking butt and taking names or struggling through your days.
Checklists are another amazing habit to form, piggybacking on making bite-sized goals. Don’t just put things on your list like start a business or make healthier meals for the family next week. Instead, you could make those headers to smaller goals! For example, you could write:
- Clean The House
- Bathroom-toilet, tub, baseboards, sink
- Laundry-wash, dry, fold, put somewhere…anywhere but the couch or bed
- Kitchen-dishes, sweep, counters, oven, stove
This list can seem overwhelming, but you have order and organization you can visualize instead of having to sort it out in your head. Additionally, you can couple it with the 15-Minute Strategy and knock out each room in unbelievably low amounts of time, adding to your sense of accomplishment. Remember not to downplay your wins!
3. Read or Listen to Books
Whether you consider yourself a reader or not, books are an excellent way to keep your mind out of a negative state. Whenever you feel yourself falling, or you just start to feel overwhelmed with reality, reading or listening to another reality for a little while can be fun and refreshing! Fiction novels can tell you stories that keep you on the edge of your seat. Mysteries will keep you questioning and needing answers. Motivational books will inspire you and help you look at life differently, adding to your intelligences-physical, emotional, and so on. With sites like Scribd and Audible, being a bookworm, escaping to new worlds, and learning about everything that excites you isn’t so time-consuming anymore, you can enjoy this relaxing hobby while driving, cooking, or getting ready in the morning. If you enjoy turning pages and have the time to immerse yourself solely in that activity, go for it! Books are such an underrated art that is beneficial to the writer and the reader.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
I talk a lot about inflammation and the ways it can truly wreak havoc in the body. Inflammation is depression’s number 1 sponsor. Most mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression and hormonal imbalances are a result of inflammation in the brain. So many underestimate the power of diet adjustment, but implementing anti-inflammatory foods and doing away with processed foods will absolutely transform your mental wellness! The less inflammation in your brain, the better you will feel, even when life is throwing you curveballs left and right.
5. Talk It Out
Of course, one of the most talked-about steps in managing your mental wellness is talking to someone. Getting all of your thoughts out and having someone to encourage you, bounce ideas back and forth, offering another point of view, or just simply listen to you is helpful beyond words-quite literally. It destroys the idea that you’re battling alone and assists with giving you more positive things to value within your circumstances.
If you are concerned about reaching out knowing you may only shut down and become a recluse again, it is completely okay to reach out to others and give a disclaimer that you are still training yourself to get better and sometimes talking or connecting will become overwhelming and you need your time. Explaining doesn’t have to be your whole life story if you don’t want it to be. Simply say “You’re my person and I trust you. Please don’t take it personally if I disappear for a few days to take a break for a little bit.”
Of course, not everyone has trusted friends or family members to call on. BetterHelp is an app to connect you with the right consistent therapy for you, offering someone to regularly check in on you, listen to you, and help you navigate through your thoughts and emotions.
The Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is another great resource. You can call them whether you’re on the ledge, feeling completely alone and hopeless, or if you’re just stressed about what to cook for dinner. They will honestly listen to you about anything that is weighing on you. It’s not like a 9-1-1 call, getting the quick details and rushing you off the phone to answer the next call, but more like a one-time therapy session that can be as brief or as long as you need it to be until you see some kind of hope. They will also offer you some long term resources if you would like, but they definitely don’t push products or management tools if you don’t want them.
Last, but most definitely not least, if you need a listening ear and desire action steps to improve your life in bite-sized chunks, book a coaching session with me and we can discuss your goals and assess how I can help you achieve them!
Mental wellness takes education and practice. Implementing the above tools will give you the insight into your wellbeing that you crave, providing clarity and order in more areas of your life. Put your mind through physical training gently bringing it back to where it’s supposed to be. Experiment with these scoping mechanisms, taking note of how empowered, motivated, or balanced you feel. Emotions are messy and tricky; they can make or break you if you give them the power to. You should never walk this road alone. We were made to connect and enrich one another.
Share with us some tips you may already use to overcome the little and big giants in your daily life!