In honor of World Mental Health Day, here are some concrete ways to nurture your self-care and bolster your mental health.
Gratitude heals. I start the day listing five things I am grateful for and one thing I love about myself. I share my list via text with a circle of almost thirty people daily. We have all noticed that this practice helps us begin the day by focusing on the blessings in our lives, and we all agree that it sets us up for a more balanced day. When a challenge arises during the day, we are more likely to look for the solution and the gift of the challenge than fall victim to its negative aspects.
Long, Deep Breathing
If you notice your muscles tensing up in response to stress, you might also be shortening the length of your breath. This signals to the nervous system that it perceives you are under threat, making it difficult to think clearly. To self-regulate your nervous system and calm yourself, breathe long and deep. Keep the exhale as long or longer than the inhale. Continue for about ten breaths and see if you feel more at ease. Repeat as needed.
Limit Social Media Time
Studies have shown that spending time on social media causes the release of dopamine, a chemical released in the brain that makes you feel good. We tend to spend more time on social media because of this chemical effect on the brain. In addition, increased time on social media can negatively influence our impulse control, which can be harmful. Limit your time on social media during the day, and you will find more balance in your day.
Practice the Pause
We can be so caught up in our thoughts that it’s as if we are on an endlessly spinning hamster wheel of thinking. If we look at it from the physics perspective, we can say that this spinning has momentum. To get off the symbolic hamster wheel, we must change its momentum.
Enter the pause. The pause is a brief period when all things can stop for one sacred moment. Consider that there might be another way to live beyond the racing of the hamster wheel. New possibilities arise from this place of pause. It can be the turning point for you where you can change the whole trajectory of the day. From this pause, we can step into the power of presence and its extraordinary healing powers.
Gather Your Resources
If you feel stressed, look for grounding resources to help you get your bearings. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 method to ease any anxiety. Find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This will help center and calm you.
Listen to music
Put on your favorite song imagining that you’re listening to it for the first time. Focus on the melody and lyrics (if there are any). Does the music create any other physical sensations in your body? Pay attention to the parts that draw your attention.
Repeat kind, compassionate phrases to yourself:
“I’m having a rough time, and I am doing the best I can.”
“I have the courage to help me move through this challenge.”
“I feel uncomfortable, and I accept that this is hard. I am going to love myself through this.”
Say it aloud or in your head as many times as you need.
Take the time to celebrate your accomplishments during the day, no matter how small. Appreciate yourself. We complete many tasks during the day. We can be so busy trying to get things done that we forge ahead before acknowledging what we have achieved. Encouraging yourself as you move through your day will deepen your self-care, sense of well-being, and health.
These eight simple practices will nourish your mental health and serve as the means to experience more ease and peace during even the busiest of days.