This week, I’m breaking down simple mental wellness strategies you can incorporate into your daily life to support robust mental health.
While some of the things on this list might be things you already know you “should” do, with 25 years of experience as a psychotherapist, I can tell you a lack of these wellness essentials can negatively impact the quality of your life and how you feel (and you don’t get the amazing benefits from knowing without actually doing, lovebug!)
I’ve included a ton of resources to help make it even easier for you to focus on simple things you can do on a daily basis to proactively support yourself and your mental health.
How you live your life has a direct impact on your mental wellness. Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and giving your body the fuel it needs– while these might seem simple, there is ample scientific evidence to back how our lifestyles really do affect our mental health. So let’s dive in, shall we?
Lack of sleep exacerbates anxiety and can make it difficult for us to regulate our emotions. Think about it: when you’re exhausted, aren’t you more likely to be reactive? Everything feels so much bigger and harder when you’re tired. It can affect your focus, motor skills, attention, mood, and memory.
If you’re anything like me, good sleep requires some energy and effort. I am the kind of person who doesn’t want to miss a thing, so I have always had a tendency to fight sleep, even if I’m tired. As a highly sensitive person, I also happen to be a light sleeper, so I need complete darkness and quiet. I’m no stranger to insomnia and had a pretty bad bout of it with hormonal changes a couple of years ago, so again- sleep isn’t something I take for granted.
How much are you sleeping? Doctors recommend between 7-9 hours per night, so if your sleep hygiene could use a tune-up, I’ve put all of my best tips and strategies inside this week’s guide to help you set yourself and your body up for better sleep.
Did you know dehydration can cause neurological symptoms? Brain fog, anxiety, headaches, confusion, and even delirium can result from not drinking enough water. I have a friend who hated drinking water (and maybe this is you) and years ago she called me to tell me she had taken the train to work the wrong way twice in one week and was going to see a neurologist to get an MRI. True story- it turned out she was extremely dehydrated!
If you struggle to drink enough water- try adding fruit or herbs to make it more palatable or try seltzer (make sure you look for sodium and sugar-free). I recently took a course created by Liz Josefsberg, author of Target 100, and started to track my hydration. I was definitely overestimating the amount of water I was getting each day. I’m now aiming for 100 ounces/day- but it only happens because I have a goal and plan to stay hydrated!
To the best of your ability, move your body every day. Make it a priority. Even 10-20 minutes a day of any kind of movement can have a major positive impact on your physical and mental wellbeing.
While our circulatory system is pumped by our heart, our lymphatic system, which processes toxins and produces immune cells, doesn’t have a central pump. Physical activity encourages the lymph to move toxins out of your body to keep us healthy and well!
Scheduling my movement each day is essential for me…it’s on the calendar. I do all kinds of different workouts- from pilates to dance cardio to trampolining (great for the lymph!) to hiking. Finding ways to move your body that you enjoy means you are much more likely to keep it up! I finally got a Fitbit and again, I was definitely overestimating how many steps I was getting in each day. Tracking has really helped me meet my movement goals.
I’m not saying run a marathon or climb a mountain (but if those things bring you joy, go for it!). Whatever your ability level is, find a way to move that feels good to you and is good for your mind, body, and soul.
Try to nourish your mind and your body with healthy foods the majority of the time. Eat as healthily as you are able. If you cannot access organic fruits and veggies, make sure to give them a good wash and scrub. Avoid excess sugar and limit your caffeine intake.
Eat regular meals and choose healthy snacks to sustain your energy and blood sugar levels. I’m not a nutritionist, so do your own research, ask your doctor, and listen to your body when it comes to what is best to fuel you. Your nutrition choices matter and they directly impact your mental wellness. Be mindful of what you are putting into your sacred temple!
My daily meditation practice is one of the cornerstones of my personal wellness. Taking the time to create more internal space and stillness helps cultivate more present-moment awareness, builds resilience, and lowers your emotional reactivity.
You can start small with just 5 minutes of meditation a day. I also love to incorporate breathing exercises and mindfulness check-ins throughout the day to tune into my body, my emotions, and to clear my mind.
Having a gratitude practice is a wonderful way to support mental wellness- and it can be simple. Every single night, my husband Vic and I share our 3 gratitudes and our favorite moment of the day to flex our mindfulness muscle and connect.
Creating a slice of sacred time for yourself each day to be mindful requires mindfulness and planning, so put it in your calendar, set a notification on your phone, and make it happen. I’ve included my favorite mindfulness practices and tools inside the guide for you and you can grab that right here.
6. Get outside
Getting outside in nature- whatever kind of nature you have, wherever you live, is so important for your mental health. A 10-minute walk to feel the sunshine on your face and the fresh air in your lungs boost your vitamin D levels and can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve your sleep.
Just sitting outside and tuning into all 5 of your senses is a beautiful way to practice present-moment awareness, improve your mood and enhance your quality of life. I try to get outside every day, no matter the weather.
Discernment is the ability to make intelligent, mindful decisions and judgments. Our ability to discern what we need, what we want, and what is healthy for us (and what isn’t) is in our control. Making more mindful choices about how we are spending our time is a big part of sustaining vibrant mental wellness.
Be selective about who has access to you and how much. Who is in your VIP section? How are you spending your time? Is there anyone in your life you are twisting yourself up into a pretzel to accommodate? Why?
Exercising your discernment to create healthier boundaries has the potential to improve every aspect of your life!
8. Limit toxic news exposure
If you’re addicted to the 24-hour news cycle, consider this your sign it’s time to break free. Try to limit your media consumption. Raise your awareness of how much time you are spending watching or scrolling through the news.
Watching anything violent or disturbing can have a lasting impact on the conscious and unconscious mind and can increase feelings of anxiety and depression. I read my news instead of watching it so I have more control over what I consume. Be informed, but again, be mindful of what you are taking in.
I hope this resonated with you and helped you feel empowered to take impeccable care of yourself and your mental health. It’s not about perfection. You can start with one thing at a time and then, once it’s a habit, build on it! Get committed to living a preventative lifestyle, and I promise you, that your physical and mental health will reap the benefits.
I’ve included both paid and free resources inside this week’s downloadable guide because everyone deserves access to mental wellness support and care.
I hope that this adds value to your life, please share it with the people in your world, and as always take care of you.