At the start of 2020, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the year that lay ahead of us. Globally, we have been pushed to the brink, forced to face a reality that most of us had never seen before in our lives. Terms like lockdown, face masks and social distancing became a part of our daily language, as the world faced a pandemic that has challenged us financially, socially, physically and of course, mentally.
Whilst we all have responsibilities and demands of daily life, we can’t continue to give if we’re pouring from an empty cup. To look after our families, friends and loved ones, plus our careers, home life and well-being, we have to take care of ourselves FIRST and it all starts with us—checking in and dedicating some time each day to practice some tender lovin’ self-care.
The idea of this may sound overwhelming, however we’ve made a simplified list of some things you can do right now to get you out of a negative funk and help you to create a healthier mind.
1. COMMUNICATE AND ASK FOR HELP
For many of us, talking about how we’re feeling doesn’t come easy - often we can feel embarrassed or don’t want to burden others with our problems. Our lives may seem so complex it feels as if talking about them won’t make any difference. The truth is, talking about how you’re feeling is probably the most important first step you can take towards creating a healthy mind. Whether it be a friend, family member, colleague or even speaking with a professional, expressing your thoughts and feelings can help you feel lighter, gain advice and get out of your head. Be brave to speak up and say, “Hey, I need some help”. You may feel vulnerable exposing your thoughts and emotions, but it allows others to recognise how you’re feeling and help you get the support you need.
2. GET ACTIVE
Physical activity has proven to improve our overall well-being, as well as lower levels of stress and anxiety. With lockdowns and restrictions happening all over the country, the freedom of going to the gym has been taken away from many of us. Luckily, there are plenty of other other things you can do to keep active and keep your blood circulating. From working out in your back garage, doing pilates in your living room, or walking around the block, these simple activities can do wonders for both your physical and mental well-being. If you’re feeling flat it can be hard to get motivated, so working out with a buddy or even listening to a podcast, audiobook or your favourite music whilst exercising can help get you up and going and make the experience enjoyable.
3. EAT WELL
Eating a well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining optimal health, both physically and mentally. Ensuring that you’re eating foods that contain essential vitamins, nutrients, healthy fats and fibre, will help how you feel in your body, giving you more energy, zest for life and focus to get through your day. Eating well also helps to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety as well as promote healthy sleep patterns, which are extremely important in achieving a healthy mind, body and soul.
4. CONNECT AND CARE FOR OTHERS
Many of us are so caught up in our daily lives that we can often miss when people around us are struggling. Whilst it’s so important to take care of yourself first and foremost, checking in with those around you can make all the difference to their day and quite possibly, their life. It’s a simple question, but through connection, we can let those around us know that how they’re feeling matters to us. Whether it be reaching out with a quick text or call, meeting up for coffee, or setting up a FaceTime chat with those that are a little further away, this act of reaching out has the power to make change within them and fill up your cup too.
Often we get so caught up in our heads with thoughts, worries and emotions, that we can spend hours each day (or many sleepless nights) stressing over things. The simple act of journaling creates space in our minds, gives us clarity and focus over our thoughts, and even the ability to make better decisions. Try setting a timer for 15-20 minutes and just free-writing onto the page. Don’t overthink it, or even re-read as you’re writing—just let it come out naturally and you’ll be surprised what ends up on the page. Alternatively, a daily gratitude list can help to shift your focus from thoughts of negativity to all the positive and goodness in your life. No matter how bad things may seem, there’s always something to be grateful for every day (and you’ll feel SO much better for it).
6. BE KIND TO YOU
When was the last time you ever stopped to really be mindful and listen to how you talk to yourself? Can’t remember? Negative self-talk is something that is so common these days that we don’t even realise we’re doing it! Criticising our appearance, thinking we’re not good enough, or beating ourselves up after a breakup or bad interview are all thoughts that I’m sure we’ve all had at some point in our lives. But would you say some of the things you say to yourself to your best friend? Probably not. Would you accept someone saying some of these negative comments TO YOU? I hope not! We need to switch the narrative in order to draw in more positivity rather than negativity. Each time you go to say something harsh, catch yourself and flip it on its head with a compliment instead. “Wow, I’m looking fierce today!”. “I nailed that home-cooked pasta dish tonight—watch out Gordon Ramsey!’. ”I didn’t get that job, that’s all good—what can I do to improve for next time?”.
7. GET OUT IN NATURE
Mother Nature can work wonders when it comes to alleviating stress and promoting a healthy mind. The fresh air, vitamin D and even planting your feet in the earth has some fantastic therapeutic benefits that are easily accessible. Spending too much time indoors, in front of the tv or even on our phones, can be detrimental to our health and by getting out in nature, our minds can change from being stressed, depressed or anxious to a more balanced and calm state. Trees, plants, water and other natural elements found in nature, soothe and calm the mind as they distract us from feelings of pain and discomfort. Being out in nature also improves our physical well-being by relaxing the muscles and boosting our blood and heart health.
8. TREAT YOURSELF
Our lives can get so busy and often we’re functioning on autopilot, with very little time or energy left to stop, slow down and just breathe. Taking care of our families, managing busy careers and everything in between, leaves very little time to treat ourselves. Make time for YOU, always! If it’s impossible to do it once a week, try once a fortnight or even once a month. Run yourself a bath, switch off from social media and work emails, indulge in your own skincare pamper session or curl up on the couch with a book for half an hour—whatever fills you up, or makes you smile on the inside from just the thought of it, do that!
Now that we’ve given you a few tips you can start incorporating into your life right away, which ones do you feel are most relevant to you. Do you have any more suggestions you think others may find helpful?