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If I could have my way, I would sleep until I woke naturally & be able to go about my day however I saw fit. I wouldn't have to schedule anything out & I could simply see where my natural tendencies carried me over the next 24 hours. That sounds like the life, doesn't it? But, in reality, I am learning I need more structure to maintain good mental health. Solid daily routine is key to improving my mental health & I am willing to bet this isn't specific to just me. So, I present to you, five daily routines to improve mental health.
Protect your sleep.
It seems elementary, doesn't it? But we stay up late for television shows, to get some peace after kids go to bed, to get extra work done without distractions, or just to fiddle around on our phones on social media. Sleep is how our brains regenerate & rejuvenate. Our bodies need the rest, of course, but if you are already susceptible to mental health issues (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, any potential neurotransmitter imbalance), sleep becomes even more crucial. If you do nothing else recommended from these routines, find a way to protect your sleep! Go to bed at a consistent time each night. Do not compromise. Sleep is that important. Non-negotiable.
Take time for yourself every day.
If you're protecting your sleep by going to bed at a decent time each night, it stands to reason that setting an alarm to wake at a reasonable hour won't be out of the question. Steal some time during lunch or just before or after dinner if early morning is absolutely not an option for you. Either way, take time for you every single day. Use this time to journal, pray, meditate, enjoy a cup of coffee in silence, update your calendar or planner, or paint or draw. Anything that will center you. This time should be quiet, reflective, relaxing, & set the tone for the next 24 hours until you are able to take time for yourself again.
Move your body.
I struggle with this one; there's no point in even attempting to fib about it! I am not exactly a small person… & I these curves take work to maintain! Ha! But. All joking aside, I am not doing my mental health (nor my physical health!) any favors by cracking jokes instead of actually moving my body on a regular basis. This is one of those daily routines to improve my mental health that I fight the most. It makes no sense because I know I would feel so much better if I'd just DO IT. A YouTube “walking” video for ten minutes right after getting out of bed. Taking a walk around the block each afternoon. Thirty minutes of yoga before I hit the shower each morning. Something. Moving my body doesn't have to mean an expensive gym membership or sweating in public if I don't want it to. No glam necessary, just actual movement.
Pay attention to what you put in your body.
Don't worry. I'm not going all “health nut” on you. It's not my style. BUT, that said, please consider replacing something you drink during the day with plain ol' WATER. You need hydration. Not juice or coffee or soda. Not just any kind of fluid to drink, but actual water. On top of that, give some thought to your eating tendencies — not just WHAT you eat, but WHEN & HOW MUCH. Do you eat when you're actually hungry? Or, do you eat when you're bored? Also, did you know your body will sometimes mistake THIRST for hunger? Drink a full glass of water before eating then see if you're actually still hungry. It could be your body was trying to tell you it hasn't had a real drink in a while… If your body is happy, your brain has a better chance at it too. Think about it.
Take pride in your appearance.
This will mean different things to different people. Ask yourself which clothes or hygiene or grooming practices give you the biggest smile on your face & extra pep in your step. I've noticed I feel better on the days I at least shower. If I am at home, even if I shower & put on clean pajamas, I am in a better mood than when I don't. When I leave the house, I feel better when I apply at least a quick five-minute face in addition to showering & dressing in clothes that fit me properly. I've gone through my clothes & gotten rid of the items that I do not feel good wearing or that do not fit me right & I am working toward a daily routine that will help me take better pride in how I look. This isn't for anyone but you. Remember that. What makes YOU feel your best? Do that.
Do you have other daily routines to help improve your mental health? I would love to continue this conversation! Please comment below, send me a private message or shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You're also invited to join us over in the Calculated Chaos Community! We talk about all things mental health over there; our whole mission is to boost confidence, embrace chaos, & empower each other. Please consider this your invitation.