Y’all don’t know how excited I am that spring break has finally arrived. This past week has been extremely stressful for me due to school projects, personal issues, health, and my to-do list. I had been stressed past my limits, and it was causing my mental health to drastically decline. Not going to lie, I had two anxiety attacks just this past week.
Now that I met my deadlines, and all my work was submitted, I need to take a day off from everything and put myself first. What did I decide to do? Nap. When I am stressed, I cannot sleep. I can go days with only handful hours of sleep, which is completely dangerous. According to an article by Harvard Health Publishing, sleep problems can increase the risk of developing particular mental illnesses. By sleeping, you can help treat some of your mental health problems. And honestly, after sleeping 10 hours yesterday, I feel GREAT today.
Self-care is an important aspect of taking care of your mental health. As someone who has prioritized my mental health, here are other self-care tips to help:
My therapist was adamant about writing in a journal. She told me that I don’t always have to write about how my day was or what was on my mind during that time. Instead, I can write about my wins, no matter how small. When I am feeling sad, I can go back and remember those wins. Every single time I need help managing anxiety, reduce stress, or feeling depressed, I either write or re-read passages from my journal. It’s been helping A LOT.
And she’s not the only one that thinks journaling is an excellent way to deal with mental health. The University of Rochester Medical Center has a piece on the positive benefits of journaling as self-care. By writing in a journal, it helps you prioritize problems, tracks day-to-day symptoms, negative thoughts and behaviors, and provides positive self-talk.
Go on a Hike
I am not the one to be out in nature, but when I need to declutter my head, I will head to a trail to forget about any stressors. Being out in nature distracts me from any negative thoughts, anxiety, or stress that I had prior to leaving the house. Now, I am not telling you to join a CrossFit gym; a nice walk around your neighborhood is good enough.
Regular exercise can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety, stress, and even helps you sleep better. What more can you want?
Do something that relaxes you
My fiance asked me a few weeks ago what I like to do to relax. My response was keeping up with this blog. I don’t want to make this blog into my job; it’s a hobby that I am passionate about and that makes me happy. I also mentioned that playing with dogs, baking and taking baths with lavender Epson salt and bath bombs are also relaxing for me. Being relax allows me to stay calm, and manage my day-to-day better.
Relaxing can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, while boosting your confidence to handle problems, according to the HealthDirect. So make sure that even in your busiest days, you take a few minutes to just do something that relaxes you.
For my friends who are struggling with depression, I know this tip is hard. Before I was diagnosed with depression and sought help, it was a drag to get myself out of bed to be social. I literally had to force myself to get out of bed, and force myself to be social, even with my own fiance! It drained my energy.
Socializing with those we love can be beneficial though. A piece from the New York Times mentioned how “the emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce the damaging effects of stress and can foster ‘a sense of meaning and purpose in life.’” You don’t have to spend all day with your friends, but just hanging out with them for a few hours can lead to a drastic improvement in your mental health.
Have a Good Cry
Before you judge me, listen. I love having a good cry. It allows me to release any pent up emotions that I didn’t know I had. Crying helps with self-healing, self-nurturing, and most importantly, it enables you to release the feelings. So if you feel like crying, let those tears go by watching a sad movie.
If you can make me laugh so hard that my stomach hurts, I will love you. One thing I love to do is laugh, whether it’s from a story someone told me, watching videos of cute babies falling or doing something dumb.
So how does laughing help with mental health? Laughing provides short-term relief from worry, reduces stress, and depending on what makes you laugh, it can strengthen relationships. So instead of putting on The Notebook, make some popcorn and put on one of your favorite comedic masterpieces. Mine is Nacho Libre.
Taking care of your mental health is extremely important. Give your brain a break, and take care of yourself to support your mental health. Your mind will thank you. And if you have any other tips, leave them in the comments!