It’s 2021—a new year with new opportunities. We are about a quarter of the way through the calendar, and it seems that life is becoming a little less chaotic.
The drama of the election has simmered down. COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out. And it’s finally beginning to feel like the world can take a deep breath and look forward to a brighter future.
While that’s all nice and refreshing, it does not necessarily mean our daily lives are getting easier. Many people are still deeply impacted by the pandemic, and our existence is still far from normal. Nevertheless, we carry on and rise above the obstacles we face along our paths.
However, pushing through the grind can come at a price—especially regarding our mental health. Putting on a brave face and powering through the changes and challenges can exert a heavy burden on our happiness and well-being. Fortunately, there are things we can do to help us stay sane as we roll with the punches of what’s to come.
Self-Care Habits for More Robust Well-Being
Below, I’ve shared some of the self-care practices that are helping me through these challenging times.
1. Have a Plan.
I’ve recently started to put all of my projects, tasks, and appointments on a schedule each week. Having my tasks physically written out gives me more control over my life. Moreover, it’s gratifying to complete my scheduled to-dos, and I feel motivated to accomplish more. Planning my weekly schedule prevents me from feeling overwhelmed and reduces the urge to procrastinate.
I expect that if you plan out your days, you’ll also feel a greater sense of control. I’ve found immense peace of mind from knowing I am in charge and my to-dos aren’t controlling me. I suggest using a day planner (many are quite inexpensive) for scheduling your time. (Tip: It’s fun to customize them with stickers or other personal touches to make them distinctly your own). Or consider using a digital tool like Google Calendar.
I’ve found that meditation is a great way to get in tune with mind and body. Taking just a few minutes of your day to find a safe place to decompress can do wonders. Put your phone on silent and be sure nothing else is around to distract you. Clear your mind, close your eyes, and simply focus on your breathing. You can do this lying down, sitting, or in whatever position is comfortable for you.
When I meditate, any anxiety or stress that I feel diminishes. Meditation also allows time for self-reflection and thinking of things that bring you serenity.
When I was a child into my teen years, I took karate lessons, which was where I was first introduced to the concept of meditation. I strayed from it for years (I wish I would’ve kept up with it), but I’m glad I rediscovered it. It’s never too late to start!
3. Talk with a Mental Health Professional.
When you find yourself in difficult times and don’t know where to turn, know that there’s no shame in seeking therapy. I think everyone could benefit from a therapist to help them think through problems and become aware of negative thought processes.
Many of us bottle up our concerns and issues, which is one of the worst things we can do for our mental well-being. Often, we let our personal pride or fear of opening up to someone new prevent us from reaching out for help. However, in my experience, rallying some courage and picking up the phone (or clicking online) to request an appointment with a therapist will be well worth the effort. Therapists listen without judgment, provide unbiased feedback, and offer strategies for escaping negative mindsets and breaking self-defeating habits. They can give you tools to help you maneuver through stressful situations your whole life long.
4. Keep Your Body Fit.
Physical health is just as important as mental health. Depression, anxiety, and stress are greatly reduced as endorphin levels increase from physical activity. Endorphins, chemicals produced by the brain and spinal cord, create feelings of happiness.
The best part is that you don’t need a gym to keep physically fit. The internet provides an endless supply of home workouts to keep you in shape and help you stay sane. YouTube and Google are a couple of great starting points to accomplish this. If you’d rather join a gym, you can find many memberships priced fairly cheap. I belong to Planet Fitness, where rates are as low as $10 a month.
Our physical health is one of the few things we have total control over. Keep your body happy, and your mental health will thank you!
Also, remember to get adequate sleep. It’s advised that adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Combine healthy sleeping habits with physical exercise, and you will be a force to be reckoned with!
5. Eat the Good Stuff.
Nutrition is another key part of physical and mental health. The common expression, “You are what you eat,” is 100 percent true. If you binge on junk food, soda, caffeine, and generally unhealthy meals, then your body is likely to reciprocate in negative ways. The result: Feeling sluggish and out of sync.
I suggest starting slowly by replacing processed snacks with healthier alternatives. For example, put down the candy bar and pick up a carrot or an apple instead. Cooking can be a time-intensive task, but meal prepping in advance helps make it manageable. It’s a best practice that helps ensure you’ll have a week of healthy meals ahead to keep your body functioning at maximum efficiency. Look on the internet for healthy recipes with affordable yet delicious ingredients.
How Will You Take Better Care of Yourself?
It’s easy to get so drowned in our work and daily responsibilities that we forget to take care of what matters most—our health. However, we all have the power to make positive changes in our lives that will yield long-term benefits.
What I’ve shared in this post represents just a few of the habits that have helped me push on through these crazy times. While there are no “one-size-fits-all” tactics that are ideal for everyone, I hope these tips help you take the first steps towards a healthier way of living—for now and the rest of your days!