When most people make health resolutions, it usually involves their physical health. Most of us make decisions to exercise more, change our diets, lose weight, and lose body fat, but there are few of us that make resolutions to better our mental health.
Preserving your mental health is one of the most important things that you can do to make sure that you are getting the most out of your life. Letting your mental health slide is going to put you under more stress and will limit your ability to enjoy your life and get the most out of your relationships with others.
The good news is, there are some simple habits that you can start using in your life right now to make sure that you are taking care of your mental health, and getting the most out of every day.
1) Set a Sleep Schedule
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our overall health, and many experts and doctors cite health as more critical to our overall health and survival than food or water. Though, when we get stressed or life gets busy, sleep is the first thing that we start to put off.
Whether stress starts to make it harder for you to go to sleep, or you decide that you can function on less sleep to get more done, eating into your sleep is one of the worst things that you can do for your mental health. Set a strict bedtime and wake up time for yourself. Your body works best when it has a routine for sleeping and waking up in the morning.
Read or journal before you go to bed, and see if you can stay away from your phone, laptop, TV, or tablet. Get yourself into the habit of having a habit to wind down at night.
2) Focus on your strengths
With work or in your personal life, it is so easy to be self critical and focus on only your weaknesses. Our culture in working society has ingrained in us over the years to focus on what we are bad at, and get better at it. To strive for being better in all facets of our lives, and to be well rounded.
Always focusing on what you aren’t good at, is not good for your mental health. Take an inventory of your strengths and find ways to use those daily in work and in your personal life.
It can be so difficult to make time to exercise when you are exhausted with all of your daily responsibilities and obligations. Between work, home, family, friends, and hobbies or downtime, the last thing that you want to worry about is commuting back to your gym to fight over equipment.
Here’s the thing though, exercise is something that your body needs. Whether you have been burnt out with working 9-5, being a full time student, or being a full time parent, you need to give your body the movement that it craves.
Sitting frequently throughout the day can wreck your posture, deplete your energy, and actually make you sad or depressed. You don’t need to exercise for an hour every day to reap the benefits of exercising for your mental health.
See if you can block out just 15-30 minutes per day to exercise. Whether that be taking a run, lifting weights, yoga, or taking a class, the endorphins and health benefits that you get from exercising will help your mental health.
4) Eat well
Diet is one of the major keys to mental and physical health. Eating crappy foods, synthetic ingredients, tons of sugar, starches, and fast food can dismantle your mental health in more ways than one.
Stick to real food that your body recognizes. Focus on eating fruits, vegetables, protein rich foods, and healthy fats that will digest slowly with your body, and serve more of a purpose than just filling you up.
5) Be thankful
Take time every day to be thankful and start each day with thankfulness. Keep a notepad or a sheet of paper to track all of the things that you are thankful for every day.
6) Take life a day at a time
Leave the worries and stresses of tomorrow for tomorrow, and focus on what you can do today. It is so easy to get stressed out when looking at the next 2-3 years or even the next 2-3 weeks of your life, but taking time to be present in the moments of each day can do a world of good for your mental health.
7) Take each task in small bites
This is very similar to taking your life a day at a time, but you can apply this to everything from stressful projects at work to planning a massive event like a wedding. Give yourself enough time, plan ahead, and prioritize what you need work on every day. Keeping your eyes on the big picture can be really stressful, so make sure to break down big tasks into digestible bites.
8) Plan vacations
Vacation time and time off is critical for taking care of your mental health. If you have been telling yourself the lie that you can just keep working without having a break, you need to stop. Make time every few months to give yourself a vacation to decompress and unload some stress.
9) Do something creative
Finding creative outlets is a great way to relieve stress and take care of your mental health. You could take up activities like music, dancing, drawing, painting, pottery, or something else that you can been wanting to do.
10) Make time to play
Making time to play is another really important aspect of taking care of your mental health. Playing can be creative, competitive, sports, music, dance, etc.
11) Try something new
12) Do something special for someone you love
Take time to do something special for someone you love. Get a gift or write a card to your spouse, significant other, close friend, or family member to let them know that you care.
13) Take opportunities to explore
Take a walk, go on a hike, or go explore a part of town that you haven’t been to before. Think of this as taking the opportunity to be a tourist in your own city.
14) Take time to laugh every day
Laughing can be the best medicine for anything when it comes to your mental health. Start your day by watching a goofy video online or reading something that makes you laugh. Share it with your friends so they can join in the fun too.
15) Put down your phone
Living in a world that is constantly connected makes it so that we never have to be out of the loop. Unfortunately, that also means that we never give our brains a break. The thing that your mental health may need is just an hour away from all of your technology to enjoy the world around you, and give your brain some time to decompress.
16) Write or Journal
Journaling can be a great way to relieve stress and wind down for the evening. Journaling doesn’t have to be a productive exercise, in fact, it can be completely mindless as a way to just put random thoughts or the events of your day down on a page.
17) Get a petd
Getting a pet or spending time with your pet is an incredibly constructive way to take care of your mental health. Spending time with your pet lowers cortisol levels and boost oxytocin production, with lowers your stress levels and makes you feel happier.
18) Pick out your Clothes the night before
This is such a small and yet significant thing that you can do to reduce your overall stress. The less decisions you have to make in a day, the more of your mental health you can preserve. Pick out your outfit the night before, so it is one less decision that you have to make in the morning.
19) Plan your meals for the week
Planning your meals for the week or even just the day is another way that you can preserve your decisions making capacity,and therefore your mental health. Use a crockpot or a slow cooker to batch prep a ton of food at one time, that you can sort out into storage containers for meals for your week.
20) Practice letting things go
Letting go and moving on is another great way to take care of your mental health. Don’t cling to mistakes you made in the past or anger that you have toward someone else. Focus on forgiving yourself and others, and using what you learned for decisions in the future.
21) Take a walk every day to enjoy nature
Take time to go out into nature daily and enjoy the world around you. Getting away from technology and work for a while may be just the thing that you need.
22) Get Some Vitamin D and Fresh Air
This goes hand in hand with getting out into nature. Vitamin D and fresh air will make you happier and help you sleep better at night.
23) Drink water
Water is something that we just don’t get enough of. When most people mainline coffee, sodas, and energy drinks, few people actually drink water. See if you can drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
Start taking these habits and implementing them into your everyday or every week to make sure that you are taking time to preserve your mental health.