Adding even more steps to your routine when your schedule is already slammed might seem antithetical to addressing your mental health. After all, when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed and you have a million things to take care of, why not save time by cutting out self-care? Spending even 15 minutes a day incorporating mental health hygiene into your routine can make drastic improvements to the rest of your day; it might even help you identify extra time and space that you didn’t realize you had. It can be difficult to remember to prioritize yourself, especially when things get busy. Here are a few simple changes you can make to boost your mental health hygiene:
- Hydrate: dehydration has been shown to negatively impact cognitive function. Being intentional about rehydrating first thing in the morning and throughout the day can improve cognition, low mood, irritability and confusion.
- Check in with yourself: whether it’s meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, yoga, or a mindfulness app – take 10 minutes out of your day to slow down and check in with yourself. Creating a space that is designed to prioritize YOU can reduce feelings of stress and burnout.
- Take inventory: make a list of your strengths, your supports, the things you’re proud of, etc. and keep it somewhere handy so you can pull it up whenever you might need a helpful reminder of the internal and external resources you already have available to you.
- Get some sunlight: This isn’t easily accessible for everyone. But research has shown that sunlight increases serotonin and boosts your mood, helping you to feel calmer and more focused. If you don’t live in a place that gets a lot of sun, consider investing in a SAD lamp.
- Cut back on social media: there have been countless studies detailing the adverse effects of social media on mental health. Some studies show that more time on social media increases the risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness and low self-confidence. It’s easy to get sucked into doom scrolling, but limiting the amount of time you spend on social media apps can help boost your mental health – ironically, there’s an app for that.
- Take a walk: it’s easy to get sucked into a busy work day and find that hours have passed without you having ever gotten up from your desk, or making it outside. Walking has been shown to help manage and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you’re having a stressful moment at work, taking a walk removes you from the situation long enough to widen your perspective.
- Turn your phone off at night: The National Sleep Foundation says that people should stop watching television or using screens for at least 30 minutes before bed. Read more about the importance of sleep here.
Yes, these simple changes can help you get on track to addressing your mental health, but sunlight and a hot girl walk aren’t going to solve the deeper issues. If you’re feeling continually down, burnt out, anxious, or overwhelmed, give yourself permission to seek additional support – whatever that looks like for you.
By Kenna Alemania