We all need a bit of a boost sometimes for both our physical and mental wellbeing. Maybe you’ve been feeling down lately, have lots of things going on right now that are stressing you out, or just haven’t had much time to yourself.
It’s totally normally to feel like this, and I think most people feel this way more often than they let on.
Of course, there are times when you need to seek professional help and medication can do wonders to relive stress, anxiety, and depression and so on, but there are also lots of ways to improve your mental health naturally and give your mood a bit of a boost that are worth a try. Self care for tough times is important to fit into your daily routines.
I thought I’d share some small habits that have helped me to boost my mental health naturally, in case they give you a helping hand to shake up your routine for the better. Start small and gradually add more to your daily routines for the best chance of improvement.
Here are some of the things I do on a regular basis for my own mental health…
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Create a routine for the day
I like a routine, it helps me to remember what I need to get done (it’s getting easier to forget things as I get older!) and plan my day so I don’t feel overwhelmed with work or rushing around. Structure is good for your mental health and without it you can end up feeling exhausted and stressed. I have an alarm to get up on time in the morning (and a child!) and I’m always sat at my desk ready to start work by 9am. I use Trello to organise my days and list the tasks that I need to get done. Most days I can finish work by early afternoon and so the rest of the day is for us to do whatever else we need to.
Setting small goals and achieving them
Goals are a great motivator and and easy way to keep productive. The more goals you smash the more capable and confident you feel about your abilities. Start setting small goals, whether work related or more personal, making sure they are realistic and achievable, otherwise they will have the opposite effect. Writing them down so that you can tick them off later once complete also helps that sense of accomplishment!
Discover when you work best
For me, if I want to get things done it needs to be in the first half of the day. By the afternoon I’ve lost focus and to be honest, often interest. Knowing when you’re more productive not only helps you to get more done and therefore avoiding burnout, but also limits the stress you put on yourself to work when your heart isn’t in it.
Spending time outdoors
It’s scientifically proven that spending time outdoors helps with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Natural light and fresh air can do wonders for your mood and really help you to clear your mind. I’m lucky to live in a country where it’s nearly always nice enough to get outside, so every afternoon I spend some time outdoors whether that’s going for a walk, gardening, or just sitting to read a book for half an hour. For me, fresh air and sunshine is definitely one of the best natural ways to improve your mental health.
I’ll be honest I’m not a big exercise fan. I don’t like group classes and find the gym boring, so I’m not going to preach about fitness. However, physical activities are essential for both physical and mental health so I do try to go for a walk most days, even if just around the block or to the local shop. I find walking eases anxieties and boosts my mood, it’s like free therapy!
Not using my phone early in the morning
Like most people I got into the habit of reaching for my phone as soon as my eyes were open, checking social media straight away. Now, once my alarm has gone off, I try to get straight up out of bed and start getting ready without logging into any apps. I work in social media so not logging into Facebook or Instagram at all is impossible for me, but I try not to check my personal accounts until the afternoon. Not only does this let my head stay clear and reduces stress, but it also helps to avoid distractions.
Try to stay positive
It’s hard to be positive all the time, and you will always find yourself getting stressed about things, but I find that’s it’s important to try not to sweat the little things. If you catch yourself complaining about something that’s really not that important, stop and move on to something else. Complaining and negative thoughts can quickly become a habit so it’s important for your mental health to try and nip it in the bud.
A similar one to the first point of creating a routine, but being generally well organised really helps me with reducing stress and anxiety. Simple things like writing down appointments, keeping your calendar or diary organised, and keeping your space tidy can limit the amount of time you spend stressing over things.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who gets hangry! Often I can be so engrossed in working that I’ll realise it’s 2pm and I haven’t eaten. This is when I find myself getting snappy and easily irritated by things. Not skipping breakfast, setting a regular time to take a break, eating a balanced meal, and generally making the effort to take better care of yourself can help to keep you on track, feeling calmer, and better focused.
Drinking plenty of water
Letting yourself get dehydrated can also affect your mood big time, so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids. I take a large water bottle to my desk so that I don’t have to keep getting up to get drink and I make sure it’s empty by lunchtime when I refill it again.
Turning off social media notifications
As mentioned above, I can’t do a social media detox as I work in social media, however limiting my personal use of social media definitely helps. We can all suffer from low self-esteem and jealousy when constantly looking at what everyone else is doing with their lives, as well as feeling that you constantly need to prove yourself. I have turned off all notifications on my phone (except the important ones like emails, banking etc) which helps to stop me from being tempted to just quickly check what everyone else is up to. Limiting social media in your life really can have a big impact on your happiness and well being.
Avoid consuming too much news
Obviously we should all be up to date on what is going on around the world, but it’s also important to limit how much negative information you consume. So many news sites are full of rubbish and scare-mongering that they can hardly be called news – I’m looking at you UK tabloids! Pick 1 or 2 news sites that you trust and just check them once a day to stay updated.
Reading good books
Reading is a really good way to relax, switch off, and also give your creativity a boost. I love to read and always have, so this is always one of my go to self care activities. I have a well stocked Kindle as well as the app on my phone so I can read whenever I get the opportunity. I find that reading really helps me to unwind after a busy day of working and is one of the top items on my self care at home to-do list.
Getting enough sleep
I love my bed! I’m the kind of person that just cannot exist on a few hours sleep, so if I don’t get 8 hours a night then I’m grumpy the next day, struggle to focus, and get easily stressed. A lie in on a weekend is also a must for me and my family know to leave me alone until 10am!
Not looking after your mental health can create so many bigger problems, but by making a few intentional changes and working out what helps to destress you and lift your mood you can significantly improve your mental health naturally as well as your overall wellness.
Don’t forget though, if you need to turn to medication or therapy then that’s fine too, these suggestions can work alongside those aswell.
Do you have any other small habits that can help to improve your mental health naturally?