In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I have compiled the following list of 10 Tips for Better Mental Health:
1) Breathe…it sounds so incredibly simple, but we spend so much of our day under pressure and in a flight or fight mode. Stop. Breathe. Focus on your breath. Inhale, exhale…let it all out. I have a friend who taught me to “breathe in the good, exhale the bad”. This little practice can make a world of difference in day to day life.
2) Exercise…find something physical that you enjoy doing and DO it. Exercise benefits both the body and the mind, reducing stress, alleviating anxiety, even helping one to sleep better at night. Go for a walk, take a yoga class, sign up for a run, break a sweat!
3) Practice gratitude…stop for a minute and say thank you. To the universe, to a colleague, to your sister, to God…just say THANK YOU. No matter how horrible or chaotic life may seem, there are always a trillion things to be thankful for. The more that we focus on the good things in our lives and what we have to be thankful for, the better we feel overall. Gratitude is the attitude.
4) Phone a friend…call someone you adore. Call your friend and say thank you, tell her how much she means to you, recall that crazy night in Windsor back in 1999. CALL…don’t text. And don’t complain. The key is to refrain from any complaints…focus on the person you are calling, make HER feel good. Making someone else happy immediately makes YOU feel happier…it’s a win-win!
5) Find a mood elevator…light a candle, read a book, turn on some music, look at videos of your kiddos…whatever makes YOU happy. For me, it is music. I can have an absolutely, horrible, very bad, no good day and if I crank up the right tunes? I feel better. Are my problems solved? Nope. But how can you be in a bad mood with 2Pac blaring from your car?
6) Hug someone..seriously! Hugging releases endorphins or “feel good” hormones…So does shopping, but hugging is FREE. Hug a friend, your husband, your mother, your child…HUG.
7) Change your environment…rough day at the office? Toddler having a complete meltdown? Go outside! Take a short walk, breathe in the fresh air. Not an option? Go to the bathroom, splash some water on your face, reapply your lipstick, look in the mirror and tell yourself you got this! Removing yourself from wherever the chaos is occurring, even for a couple of minutes, reduces your stress levels.
8) Meditate…takin the time to just let go and to declutter the mind is key to good mental health. Life is busy and can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes it feels like it is impossible to just slow down the endless chatter of the brain. I recommend downloading an app like Calm or Headspace. I meditate nightly and I’ve even gotten into the practice of meditating with my toddler! It is never too young to develop such an important skill…calming and relaxing the mind.
9) Let it out…cry in the shower, let the tears roll down your face, scream at the top of your lungs, punch a pillow…get all of your feelings OUT!
10) Schedule an appointment with a therapist…there is nothing quite as amazing as finding a licensed professional who you adore and trust. There is NO shame in seeking help to manage the ups and downs of this thing called life.
*Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or licensed anything. These are simply tips to help manage general day to day stress. If you or someone you know is experiencing serious mental health issues, consult with a licensed professional.