Find the best routine for your mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Do you ever feel like it is impossible to get everything done? There just aren’t enough hours in the day and the weight of all your responsibilities seems unbearably heavy? You aren’t alone. In today’s fast-paced culture, unreasonable expectations are at an all-time high. It can feel impossible to keep up, let alone take care of yourself. Continued stress can often spiral into mental health concerns.
The organization, Mental Health America recommends creating routines to get you out of a chaotic pattern and into one that is reasonable and fulfilling. By creating healthy routines, you can organize your day to prioritize self-care and sustainable productivity. May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and the perfect time to put yourself first and start a new routine to create better days no matter what life throws at you.
What does a Healthy Routine Look Like?
No two daily routines are exactly alike. Your schedule is unique to you, and that is ok. All healthy routines should include eating a balanced diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep, but other than that, your routine could vary significantly from the other people in your life. In fact, your routine may not even be exactly the same every day.
How to Achieve a Better Routine in Celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month
Start with small changes
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your new routine doesn’t have to happen all at once. In fact, too many changes at once could just create greater stress! Here are some examples of small changes:
Set out your clothes for work before you go to bed.
Carry around a water bottle to encourage you to stay hydrated.
Add a New Habit to an Existing One
Not all habits are bad. If you are a daily coffee drinker, maybe try drinking that coffee at home while reading instead of driving with it on the way to work. Do you talk to your mom or your child (or another loved one) once a week? Maybe try a video chat instead to experience a better connection.
Mental Health America recommends thinking about the things you do during the day that aren’t so healthy and swap them with better behaviors. For example, if you feel sluggish in the afternoons and eat sugary snacks for a quick pick-me-up, try taking a brisk walk instead to get your blood pumping and endorphins flowing. Or if you find yourself often having a few alcoholic drinks after a long stressful day, try sipping hot tea instead.
This is often easier said than done, but doesn’t meal prepping sound like a better idea than stopping at a fast-food restaurant? Keep some quick alternatives (like quick healthy frozen food or snack packs) on hand for the days when it is just too much. Have an alternate workout plan for when you just can’t make it to the gym.
Make Time for the Fun Stuff
Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, set aside time to do something fun or relaxing. Make sure that you keep that time open every day. It’s more important than you think. Read a book, take a walk, stretch, color in a coloring book, watch the sunset...These things will release chemical messengers like oxytocin in your body that are good for your physical and mental health.
Reward Yourself for Small Victories
Set goals and celebrate when you reach them. You deserve it! Have you exercised every day as planned, made it to all of your meetings on time, avoided a certain food or drink that you know wasn’t helping your routine? Treat yourself to something fun within your means like trying a new restaurant, watching a movie, or getting a new video game.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Making life changes can be hard and you might forget to do something that is new to your routine every once in a while. You don’t have to be perfect, just try to do better the next day.
Why Mental Health is Important - Mental Health During Difficult Times
Now, more than ever, people are over the world are experiencing elevated levels of stress. Mental health during the 2020 virus outbreak has become a focus for those dealing with countless changes in their routine. Establishing some sense of normal in a new situation is an important part of staying mentally healthy and ready to adapt as needed.
Physical health is often a focus because that is what you can most clearly display on social media without telling the story of how you really feel. Happiness is far more important than looks or financial abundance. Taking care of yourself from the inside out is much more likely to lead to success than from the outside in. Find what makes you happy and make that a priority.