Last week’s post focused on why your emotional well-being is an integral part of your health journey. Here’s the basic recap: Negative emotions weaken your body’s ability to take care of you and pessimistic mindsets prevent you from being motivated in productive ways. Essentially, in order to reach your full potential, it’s imperative that you approach your health holistically. To catch up in more detail, read last week’s post here.
So, you know that your mental and emotional health are important, but how do you act on this knowledge? What steps can you take in your day to day life to prioritize your emotional well-being? Most of them are much simpler than you might think.
Start making time for yourself in the mornings. It could be as small as waking up an extra 10-15 minutes earlier than normal or as significant as getting up a full hour earlier- you don’t have to be a morning person to do this. Setting aside even a small amount of time for yourself before getting ready for the day allows you to mentally prepare to take on your responsibilities. Don’t just wake up 20 minutes before you have to leave the house- let yourself sit in bed, or read, or drink your coffee before the day kicks in. Making little moments to relax and ground yourself will help you feel more in tune with yourself.
Another step you can take is spending more time in nature. A 2018 article put out by Harvard Medical School claimed that spending time in nature could help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. This research shows that being in nature has therapeutic effects for many people and can help lower blood pressure and the body’s production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Even just 20-30 minutes each day spent outside can have hugely positive impacts on your stress levels! So go on an evening walk in your neighborhood, or maybe even use your extra morning time to sit outside for 20 minutes. If you have time to scroll through social media everyday, you have time to spend a few moments in nature.
Along that same vein, move your body! This doesn’t even have to be workout related. Take a walk. Stretch for 5-10 minutes each day. Dance around to your favorite song. It doesn’t matter how you move your body, as long as you’re intentional about it! Getting your blood flowing and focusing on one physical task is a great way to blow off steam and re-energize you.
And finally, establish a specific coping mechanism for yourself. Doing this is highly beneficial because when you feel overwhelmed or upset, you’ll have a predetermined activity or process to turn to. Obviously, this will vary greatly depending on the person and can certainly change over time as you better come to understand your needs, but having a plan in place can make dealing with negative emotions feel much more manageable. Great examples of this are journaling, playing an instrument, taking a shower, calling a family member, doing your laundry, or going on a bike ride. Pick a simple activity that calms you or brings you joy, and turn to that the next time you feel lost or stressed.
Find small things you can do for yourself each day. Self care doesn't have to be expensive. Self care is about taking time to do the activities that you love and that make your soul happy. So while spending $100 on a new face mask every now and then might bring you joy, finding long term solutions to cope with your emotional and mental health will ultimately be more sustainable and more rewarding. Well-being is about more than just looking healthy- it’s about feeling healthy too.