Every month is Mental Health month IMO. Our body is our home. Our mind is attached to our body, you see where I’m going with this. Every single day is an opportunity to show up for yourself and choose to accept wherever you are.
The wellness industry is a trillion dollar industry! We have the juices, the podcasts, the powders, the cleanses, the self care reminders all the things. It’s all so important- BUT what matters most is the way we relate to ourselves. That is the vulnerable thing, the real thing and the hard thing. You can’t beat depression with a manicure or get rid of anxiety with a massage. You might de bloat for one day with a belly tea, “ love” your body for a day and find yourself at square one a week later. It’s the message society sends us- we need to seek outside of ourselves in order to become whole.
The truth is, we have all we need within us- the work is accessing our strengths and asking for real help and support when we need it.
Are you listening to that podcast because it’s hard to sit with yourself in the car OR because you feel so excited and connected to what you’re listening to? Is that massage an act of desperation to feel better from a job you hate or a treat yourself moment for your own enjoyment and pleasure. The way we relate to ourselves and the world around us begins to change the way we move through life and relate to our thoughts and feelings.
Regardless of your answer – neither is right or wrong, the awareness of your intention and what you need is key. Connection to your inner voice, approval of your journey and small inspired actions each day can create fertile ground for growth and overall wellbeing. Cool part? When you take care of yourself the people you love benefit. If after reading this blog and sharing it with a few friends you take one small practice that resonates with you, an amazing ripple effect is created. If you are struggling with your mental health it can feel all consuming and overbearing, it is never your fault, you deserve support, love and guidance. I hope reading this gives you the green light to ask for it.
Prioritizing your mental health is a long game, a daily practice and ultimately becomes a lifestyle. I might also add, no human does this perfectly.
We are ever changing, evolving, growing and imperfect beings, paradoxically this is what makes us absolutely perfect in our own right. I’ve outlined a few key practices I believe to be great places to start in supporting yourself on your mental health journey.
Practice setting boundaries
A boundary can be defined as a “line that marks the limit.” A helpful practice is to begin setting boundaries with yourself in order to preserve your future self, wellbeing or how you’d like to feel. The more you do this with yourself the more natural it may feel to do with other people. We all take on different roles usually rooted in our family system and carry them out into the world. A boundary is disruptive to a pattern that’s is other wise on autopilot and most likely not serving our highest good. If your in the pattern of consistently sacrificing your own needs in order to prevent disappointing someone you love, creating a boundary will disrupt the dynamic.
A boundary with yourself starts with increasing consciousness of how you spend your time and if it feels nourishing. A great way to start small is setting a boundary with your phone.
A more advanced boundary comes through in the form of saying no without attachment to the outcome.
Are there people, places or things in your life that leave you feeling negative, drained and low? Take a look. A boundary isn’t cutting people off completely (this is sometimes the case) – it’s changing the way we relate and often requires letting go of the need for approval or comfort. A boundary is a limit set to foster healing and growth.
A few ways to explore boundary setting:
set a timer for social media on your phone
decline and invitation without explaining yourself
Identify how not having boundaries is effecting you
practice future self journaling, how would your future self benefit from a boundary?
Invest in yourself
Investing in yourself can require zero dollars. A great place to start is by investing your time. Time and money are energy. Where can you refocus your energy to enhance your wellbeing? It’s so easy to spend our time focusing on other people, what they’re doing, what we’re not doing, emails or the latest “thing.” Sometimes we unknowingly do this as means to avoid spending time with ourselves.
Invest in yourself as a means to connect with yourself, acknowledge and approve of what you find when it’s all about you.
Wake up 15 minutes earlier to meditate or journal
Meal prep healing food for the week ahead
Seek out a trusted therapist or coach
Spend time in nature alone
Take mental health days from work, utilizing your PTO
Whether it is god, goddess, spirit, guides, the universe, your dog or your kitchen table handing over your troubles to a power greater than yourself is life changing. Now, I’m not saying you keep up with a bunch of self sabotaging habits and just “hand it over to god.” Spirituality is simply believing in something greater than yourself. If you are reading this and struggle with control, depression, low self worth, pain or anxiety- handing those over to whatever you feel to be more powerful than you mind might be a beautiful practice for you.
Sleep, Eat & Move.
Walk, dance, hike, twerk, weight training- all beautiful ways to get moving. High Intensity workouts are proven to aid in preventing depression and enhance mood. I recommend moving in a way that you enjoy, not how you feel you “should.” Exercise in a way that feels fun, challenging and expansive. Allow yourself to move intuitively and measure your success according to how you feel, your determination and dedication rather than the number, length or duration of the workout. Moving in a way you enjoy makes it sustainable, hating your workout and counting calories burned creates a disconnection from accessing you the wisdom your body organically shares with you.
Our sleep is also directly related to our mental health, depression specifically. When we skip out on sleep we also mess with our hormones activating ghrelin our hunger hormone creating a false sense of hunger and cravings typically for sugar.
Nurture Authentic Connections
Connection is EVERYTHING. The most important connection is the one with yourself. Slow down and prioritize real alone time.
Spend time with people you love and prioritize it! I included the word authentic because often times connections are routine, habitual and draining. Take inventory of the connections in your life.
Some helpful Qs to take inventory of your relationships:
Can I express my thoughts, fears, desires and fully shine?
Do we celebrate each other’s wins and hold each other in the downs?
Are we learning from each other?
Do I abandon any part of myself in order for this relationship to work?
Get Messy: Refrain From Toxic Positivity
This is the practice of being in full approval of yourself no matter what! Refrain from toxic positivity, it’s a gift to the world when we live life with a grateful heart, optimism and the ability to see the best in everyone and everything HOWEVER we cannot “good vibes” our way out of pain. Toxic positivity can create immense shame around feeling into your pain, the antagonist to this is approval and acceptance for what you feel and then moving into how you’d like to feel. Allow yourself to use a curious mind to explore your thoughts and emotions. From a place of awareness you can move forward with acknowledgement and validation of yourself and how you feel. The more you practice approving of yourself, the less important the approval of others will become. Allow yourself to unearth old traumas, pain or fears that might be hindering your full expression- reach out to a professional for support.
Follow a Gentle Routine
Create a gentle routine, one that has structure holds you accountable but is able to flex. A great place to start is identifying three nonnegotiable activities or tasks for your day, prioritizing a bed time and letting the rest fill in. A wonderful thing to do is schedule time for nothingness or play!
Some nonnegotiable activities might be:
Sitting down to dinner with your loved ones
Curate Your Social Media
Is your social media full of thigh gaps and unrealistic photos of people who are happy 100% of the time? Check in, how do you feel after a scroll, really be honest with yourself. A great practice for curating your social media is crowding out accounts that don’t serve you. Crowding out is the practice of bringing in more of what you want making less room for the things that aren’t supporting your development. For example, if you’re struggling with body acceptance maybe unfollow a few fitness models and follow more accounts that promote body neutrality, intuitive eating or shed light on the distortions that social media promotes. Also whatever you do follow some puppy accounts, immediate oxytocin boost 😉
Check out these resources for added support if you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health. This blog post is not a replacement for clinical treatment or crisis intervention.
You are never alone <3