In the hustle and bustle of daily life, we are accustomed to creating our daily habits to fit the different roles we play. Creating healthy habits for our mental health is no different. Many habits can be integrated with ease and a little discipline, and the few minutes a day spent in maintaining them have a positive effect on everything from anxiety and depression to physical health. Here are some habits and tips you can use to improve your mental health:
Develop a Morning Routine
Establishing a morning routine adds intention to your mornings and sets the tone for a positive and productive day. Begin your morning routine the night before with proper sleep hygiene to ensure that you are well-rested, and your body is optimized for the day to come. Whether your morning routine consists of making coffee and catching up on the news or taking the dog for a walk after a light breakfast, let this be the first commitment you make to yourself on a daily basis and improve the rest of the day.
Even during the darkest of times, we can all find something to be grateful for. Create a routine of noting what you are grateful for on a daily basis and consider making this a nightly habit for a great nightcap activity that allows you to recap the events of the day and find that sometimes elusive silver lining. Don’t forget about the people in your life, no matter the role they play or the space they occupy, and make sure to let them know from the heart why you are happy to have them around. After all, joy begets joy.
Find a Podcast You Enjoy
Podcasts are a secret weapon for improving mental state. They can be a mood-boosting source of entertainment, provide bite-sized knowledge on a topic of interest, and the many wellness-oriented podcasts available today even feature inspirational, good-for-the-soul talks and guided meditation. They can easily be incorporated into the morning or after-work commute, or even at your desk while on a break from work.
Keep and Maintain Lists
The rush of crossing an item off a to-do list provides an undeniable feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Consistently keeping and maintaining lists reduces stress by allowing you to take the bigger picture surrounding your responsibilities and simplify these duties into actionable, goal-oriented prompts. Plus, studies have shown that committing a task to written form improves its likelihood to be retained and executed.
Positive and Fulfilling Social Interaction
Humans are naturally social creatures, and even self-proclaimed introverts need genuine social interaction in order to be happy and satisfied. Surround yourself with relationships that fulfill you and revel in the joy of sharing a good laugh, catching up with an old friend, or making a new friend with similar interests. As for those relationships that are damaging and fall short of your personal needs, address these issues with the individuals involved, and if a compromise cannot be made, respectfully part ways.
Take a Break
Listen carefully to the needs of your body and your mind and learn to recognize when you need to take a break. Taking a break from a task when you have hit a wall or feel overwhelmed allows your mind to reset and refocus. Studies have shown that the naps we left behind in our kindergarten years still remain highly beneficial in improving short-term energy levels, and even a nap as short as 20 minutes has a positive effect on focus and productivity.
Monitor Your Technology Use
In a digital world ruled by staying virtually connected and possessing the latest gadgets, the cultural fixation on technology can feel like an endless rat race. Setting a daily cutoff time for your phone and computer use not only improves mental clarity and focus, but also shields you from blue light that is known to disrupt sleep hygiene. If you feel overwhelmed by your personal life or events unfolding on social media, listen to yourself and know when it is best to withdraw. Those notifications can wait, but your mental health should not.
Finally, any form of physical activity you can incorporate into your daily or weekly routine is great for physical health, improving mental health, and strengthening the immune system. Whether you are taking a walk in the park or are attending a yoga class, the revitalizing effects of setting the body in motion can be felt instantly in the short term and adding bursts of physical activity to your daily life positively impacts overall quality of life.