Unfortunately, many of us will experience issues regarding our mental health at one point or another in our lives. Whether you suffer from a serious mental illness or find yourself getting down in the dumps more than you’d like to, there are a few things you can do every day that will help regulate your emotions. I’ve composed a list of 10 small things you can easily work into your schedule that require minimal effort but will drastically improve your mental health.
1. Make a gratitude list
We often spend far too much time dwelling on the things that went wrong, when we really should be focusing our attention on what went right. Start your day off by making a list of five things you’re grateful for. Whether it’s people in your life that are there for you through thick and thin or something as small as the weather, there’s always something to give thanks for.
2. Make your bed
Making your bed in the morning will give you a sense of accomplishment and set the tone for the rest of your day. You’ll feel just that much more put together, and it’s always nice to come home and turn down the covers before getting in bed.
3. Treat physical illness
How are you supposed to feel good mentally when you don’t feel good physically? We oftentimes ignore physical maladies because we’re so concerned with everything else going on in our lives. However, if you notice you’re under the weather or are hurting where you shouldn’t be, take the time out of your day to go to the doctor and get treated for whatever’s bothering you. It’ll give you just one less thing to worry about.
4. Get some exercise
Many people avoid exercising because of the expectations that surround it. However, nobody expects you to run a marathon or climb a mountain in a day. Start small; take a walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the scenery. You not only get to appreciate your surroundings, but also get some endorphins flowing while you’re at it. These will naturally enhance your mood as well as give you energy for the rest of your day.
5. Eat well
What you put into your body undoubtedly affects your mood. Eating things high in sugar will give you a momentary burst of energy, but will make you crash later and feel worse than you did before. Instead, make sure you’re getting all the necessary nutrients your body and mind need to function properly. Eat fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens) and make sure you’re getting enough protein. You’ll also be able to deal with what life throws at you a lot better if you’re not hangry.
6. Avoid mind altering substances
This is especially important if you do happen to suffer from a serious mental illness. But even if you don’t; using drugs and alcohol when you’re sad will only make you feel better temporarily. And even then, there’s a chance that they will have the opposite affect and actually end up making you feel worse. It’s better to avoid mind altering substances altogether, at least until you’re in a good place emotionally and will be able to tolerate their side effects.
7. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep will allow you to function properly throughout your day. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, going to bed and waking up at a certain time every day will get your body in a natural rhythm and help regulate your emotions. It’s ten times harder to get things done when you’re tired, and will make you cranky and irritable, so getting the proper amount of sleep every night is a must.
8. Do some self care
If you’re feeling down, take some time to focus on your needs and making yourself feel better. Relax in a hot bubble bath after a long day at work, or throw on a face mask and watch some bad reality TV. Paint your nails or do your makeup, because when we look good, we feel good. Eat one of your favorite foods and don’t feel guilty about it. Self care could be any of these, and more; it’s really relative to each individual.
9. Take a break from social media
Spending too much time on social media can definitely bring you down. Scrolling through photoshopped pictures of people who look perfect might make you think that you’re the only one in the world who isn’t happy. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you find yourself glued to your phone screen more often than not, it might be time to take a break. Turn your phone off for an hour or two and focus on the world around you.
10. Smile, even if you don’t feel like it
Studies have proven that people smile when they feel happy, but also feel happy when they smile. Even if you’re currently feeling nowhere near happy, giving a smile to yourself or someone else will brighten your day. As they say; fake it until you make it!