Forming lasting lifestyle habits for mental health requires making conscious efforts every day. Moment by moment. There will be setbacks, but you can always readjust and get back on track. Be patient. Have a sense of humor. And focus forward. I’m trying to focus on making JOY a habit. For me, that looks like living in the present moment, laughing, saying yes more, saying no more, saying I love you more, taking time to rest, reaching out to old friends, wearing that outfit I’ve been saving for special occasions just to run errands.
Below are 5 lifestyle habits for mental health that are worth trying out. It’s important to remember, you shouldn’t try implementing all of these at once. Change is gradual. But these 5 lifestyle habits for mental health are definitely worth considering.
5 Lifestyle Habits For Mental Health
- Waking up early
- Less coffee
- Clean eating
Waking up early
I know this sounds like a total drag. And at first, it is. But it offers this surprising sense of control of the day ahead, which turns into this wave of calm that washes over you. I have a 16-month-old baby, so my wake times have been a little unpredictable. But she’s starting to find her rhythm and so am I. I plan on implementing this change in the coming weeks, to try it out. I am NOT a morning person. Like, not at all. But the idea of waking up even 30 minutes before my usual crying alarm clock sort of excites me. Sitting outside, doing a quick meditation, just starting my day with some conscious, slow, deep breaths. The thought of it alone is energizing, I can’t imagine what it’ll feel like when put into practice.
I, along with the rest of the known world, fell under the spell of Marie Kondo and her brilliant Konmari method of decluttering. One episode in, and my entire closet was stuffed in garbage bags and donated. It doesn’t have to be this extreme, but the idea of prioritizing white space has been a lifestyle habit for mental health that I’ve been taking very seriously to help better cope with my anxiety and depression. And I have to say, it’s working. The less is more philosophy is key. Shopping used to be one of my unhealthy coping mechanisms. Now, I only buy things I absolutely need. I try to fix things if they’re broken. I buy second hand as often as I can. And when I do feel the craving for that thrifty, shopper’s high, I’ll cut myself some slack and go bargain hunting. Because old habits die hard, but new habits are worth working toward.
This one may sound counter-intuitive after I just told you to try waking up earlier, but hear me out. Coffee isn’t helping you. Trust me on this one. It’s not doing you any favors. Even that really good, grown in the shade, fair trade, organic stuff you bought at your local farmers market. If you’ve become dependent on a substance in order to make it through your day, it’s doing more harm than good. That’s not to say a yummy, warm cup of Joe doesn’t hit the spot every now and then. But paying attention to how your body responds to it and, more importantly, how it responds without it, is key. I’ve learned that me and coffee just don’t mix. I can literally feel it sucking my adrenals dry. So, I’ve cut it out for good. But, that solution isn’t right for everyone. I’m merely suggesting to take a good, hard look at the substances you’ve become dependent on and start examining those dependencies with a more honest perspective.
This one takes some major trial and error to really find your sweet spot, and it’ll fluctuate depending on what season of life you’re in, but clean eating is an absolute must in you’re trying to maintain your mental health. The body and mind are linked. Your gut is basically your second brain. And you would pour nachos and cheap beer all over your brain and expect to feel your best, would you? No, of course, you wouldn’t. So use that very visual metaphor next time you’re getting yourself something to eat. Ask yourself, would I feed this to my brain? Life is all about moderation, of course. Sometimes it might just very well be in your best interest to take a plate of nachos to the face and chug some beer. Will you feel great the next day? No. But it may be worth it to fully enjoy yourself in the moment. And as long as you’re aware of how food makes you feel, then you’re heading in the right direction. In general, clean eating involves sticking to whole foods. Nothing processed. Preferably organic. It can take time to prepare food like this, and sometimes we just don’t have that time. But being mindful about your choices, no matter what season of life you’re in will help you keep that balance.
Even if you’ve never meditated before, I urge you to close your eyes right now and give it a try. I’m serious. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Once you’ve found the rhythm of your breath, starting counting. Inhale for 4 counts. Hold for 4 counts. Exhale for 4 counts. Try that a few more times. Then, open your eyes, and tell me you don’t feel lighter. Calmer. More in control. That’s really all it takes. Meditation is one of the easiest lifestyle habits for mental health you can try and start implementing right away. It comes in all shapes and forms and looks like different things for different people. My meditation comes from watching the water or sitting in silence with my eyes closed, or rocking my baby to sleep. For others, it can be a week-long silent retreat in the mountains, or surfing, or cooking, or running, or a long car drive with the windows down and a great song blasting through the speakers. Whatever your meditation looks like, try doing more of it. Try for once every day. You’ll be better for it. Promise. Here is a link to the 6 best meditation apps.
What lifestyle habits for mental health have you been focusing on lately? Let me know what’s been working for you in the comments section below. Maybe it’ll serve as inspiration for the next reader!