10 Ways To Proactively Manage Your Mental Health
My contribution to the January season… This is not a set of resolutions or a transformation plan, but rather my compiled list of simple strategies to help keep a person balanced and grounded. Something that can be referred to as needed. Most of my suggestions here are simple things, but of course these are often the most profound. And, we all need reminders. Mental health comes in ups and downs, and strategies are needed for both these times. Ways of helping yourself or asking for help when things are tough, but also, when things are good, ways of establishing healthy routines to keep you feeling good. As much as possible anyway. This article focusses on the latter, how to keep balanced and emotionally regulated. January can be a good time for many to commit to establishing healthy habits. So in that vein, here is my list of things to do before anxiety and depression take over and become overwhelming. You don't have to do all of these things at once, but read the list, and see what jumps out at you and you think you could incorporate. Or perhaps make your own list, inspired by mine...
- Take rest. Regularly, and before you feel desperate. Proper rest too, not a "junk break" of surfing social media. Something where you feel present and relaxed. A tea break. A stretch. A nap. A day off. A holiday.
- Move your body. Every day. This doesn’t have to be an intense workout, but you do have to move. Go for a walk, do some free online yoga, or just dance in your room (that's what I like to do).
- Drink lots of water.
- Eat regularly to keep your blood sugar balanced. This means including carbs, proteins, and healthy fats with every meal. As much as possible make sure you are eating nutritious foods: lots of veg and minimal processed foods. This has an effect on mood. But also know that if this stresses you out MORE, you must of course find your own balance point.
- Make a habit of the activities that nourish your heart and soul. Think about what these are for you, and find ways to incorporate them regularly. Swimming in the ocean, walking in the forest, or setting aside Sunday nights to drink wine with your best friend.
- Seek out human touch, in a way that feels safe and comfortable for you. Cuddle with your partner, hug a friend, get a treatment from a professional massage therapist or osteopath or other practitioner. Or pet your dog/cat, if that suits you better. Safe touch is absolutely a human need.
- Work on your relationships. Consider: who supports you? Who lifts you up? Who makes you feel better when you are with them? Spend more time with those people. Where do you have relationships that are challenging? What can you do to address or resolve this? I know it's not always simple, but in some cases it IS, once you remember that the most important thing is the relationship. You might be able to swallow your pride. Or, let the other person that you care about them and that is the most important thing, and then begin troubleshooting from there. On the other hand, if you feel you don’t have positive relationships, think of ways you can create this. Seek out activities that you enjoy, and allow relationships to unfold from there. Try going to a meet-up group. Read my blog post about how to build community.
- Schedule time for yourself: not just time when you are alone but time you are giving yourself. Be without electronics. Perhaps an activity: go for a walk in the woods, or to a float tank or spa. Have a bath. Meditate. Or just spend time in the house alone.
- Give something away. Perhaps your time - do some volunteering. Perhaps the many knick-knacks you never use, or maybe some baking. Perhaps a favourite and beloved necklace of yours that just feels right to pass on to a loved one. Cultivate generosity.
- Have a plant in your room! Green growing stuff helps clean the air and can work wonders on well-being.
Of course, you can also read this poem, a favourite of mine. I quote:
Remember: you are a comma, one
beloved earring, a house
circled on a traveller’s map,
but never an imposition.
Everyone feels like a hallway
at some point or another.
But you are a room
that people enter to stay.
And, know that sometimes, despite your best strategies, you will feel down. Depressed. Anxious. Know that this is more common than you think. This is something I have really REALLY learned from training to be a naturopathic doctor, because I gain deep insight into a unique inner world each time I see a patient. Everyone has their own struggles, and often this is invisible. Many people feel alone. Let me assure you, you are not alone.
It is also important to note that different challenges call for different tools. Sometimes these lifestyle strategies are really profound, but sometimes you need more support. Support from friends and community, support from a herbal medicine, support from a pharmaceutical medicine. Please don't ever be afraid to reach out. Take good care of yourself <3
Disclaimer: Information can be empowering, but we all have unique health profiles and needs. Health-related information contained in this post is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a Naturopathic or other doctor.