MANAGE YOUR STRESS & CARE FOR YOURSELF
Managing your stress and taking the time to care for yourself is infinitely important. Whether you de-stress by cooking, journaling, or engaging in spirituality, we hope these videos provide you with ideas for self-care.
Even though Mental Health Awareness Month for 2020 has passed, that does not mean you should stop caring for your mental health. Explore the tips below for information on how to care for your mental health. Some of the tips are adapted from the 2020 Mental Health America Toolkit.
Own Your Feelings
It can be easy to get caught up in your emotions as you are feeling them.
Most people do not think about what emotions they are dealing with, but taking the time to really identify what you are feeling can help you to better cope with challenging situations.
How to own your feelings:
Allow yourself to feel. Everyone has emotions; they are part of the human experience. You have every right to feel them, regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, race, political affiliation, or religion.
Do not ignore your feelings. It can be easy to suppress emotions, but that will only hurt more in the long run. You have to let yourself feel whatever you need to in order to cope.
Try journaling. This does not need to be a "dear diary" type of exercise. It is more so you can reflect on your day and how your emotions changed. Try writing down 2-3 emotions you felt throughout the day and why you felt that way. This can help you start to acknowledge and own your emotions.
Talk it out. Talking about how you feel can be therapeutic as well as productive. Reach out to somebody you trust and let them know how you are feeling. You might share similar feelings and stories, or you can just have them listen. It is up to you, since it is how YOU feel.
Seek a professional. If you have been working towards owning your feelings but are having some trouble, it might be time to seek professional help. While friends and family can be nice to vent to, sometimes it takes a professional to truly help you work through your feelings.
Create Healthy Habits
Working, paying bills, cleaning, cooking, shopping, exercising, getting enough sleep, and taking care of children are just some of the things millions of Americans do each day. It is easy to be overwhelmed! It can feel impossible to get everything done, let alone take care of yourself – especially if you are already struggling with a mental health concern such as depression or anxiety.
Having a healthy routine with your diet, sleep, and exercise are linked to improved mental and physical health. Here are some tips for creating healthy routines:
Find your personal routine. Everyone is different, so there is not one routine that will fit everyone's lifestyle. While all routines will differ, a strong routine should include a nutrition-rich diet, consistent exercise, and a good night's sleep.
Start small. Do not try to change your life overnight. It will not work. You have to gradually change your routine by swapping out unfavorable habits with healthier alternatives. Try working on one thing each week. It could be adding a healthy habit or cutting out a bad one. Small habits add up!
Plan ahead. It can be easy to forget your new healthy habits when life gets hectic. To avoid skipping out on your new healthy habit, plan ahead. Meal prep to ensure healthy dinners, lay out your outfit for the next day, or find quick home workouts just to keep you moving. By adding these habits to your routine, you are setting yourself up for success and less stress.
While 1 in 5 people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition in their lives, 5 out of 5 people will go through a challenging time that affects their mental health.
There are simple things that every person can say or do to help the people in their life who are struggling to get through a tough time.
Reach out to your support network. If you are feeling stressed, reach out to friends and family. Talking out your feelings can help you work through your stressors.
Look for organizations that align with your values. Surrounding yourself with people who value what you do can reduce stress and even build connections.
Gratitude is consciously and actively showing your appreciation for the people, places, and things around you. Gratitude can take place on many levels, including the individual level as well as the interpersonal level.
It has been shown that practicing gratitude increases mood and boosts overall wellbeing. Check out the ideas below on how to practice gratitude:
Gratitude journaling. Try writing down 2-3 things each day that you are grateful for. These can be as small as the cup of coffee you are drinking or the pencil you are writing with. By actively writing down what you are thankful for, you can begin to practice gratitude towards yourself, and this can also help you see the world from a more positive perspective.
Voicing your appreciation. Let people know that you are thankful for them. If a coworker gave a great presentation, tell them. If your partner cleaned the house, tell them how grateful you are. Showing others that you appreciate their efforts reduces stress and can boost everyone's mood.
Acknowledging yourself. If you finished a project you had been working on, acknowledge that you did a good job. Treat yourself to something after a long day. By appreciating and acknowledging yourself, you are practicing personal gratitude.
Looking for the positive. Life is full of positives, but it can be easy to overlook them and only see the negatives. By actively looking for the positives in your life, you can begin to see the world from a more optimistic view.
Mindfulness does not strictly mean meditation. Mindfulness simply means to bring awareness to yourself and your surroundings. Not everyone likes to close their eyes and take deep breaths, and that is okay. You can still practice mindfulness without practicing meditation.
Here are some ways to practice mindfulness:
Meditation. If you enjoy practicing meditation, do not stop. There are several different apps as well as YouTube videos that provide guided and unguided meditations. There are even Spotify playlists with soothing music if you want to just listen to something peaceful. Check out these YouTube videos that feature hour-long clips of relaxing, calm music.
Mindful Walk. Next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed, try going on a mindful walk. Whether it is alone or with somebody else, try to bring awareness to what you see, hear, smell, and feel. Notice the colors of the leaves, the supportive ground underneath your feet, what smells are in the air. By bringing awareness to what is happening around you, you create a better connection between your mind and body. This type of walk can also be a gratitude exercise. You may realize how beautiful that neighborhood tree is, or how you are appreciative of the fact that you are able to walk and experience the outdoors with all of your senses.
Mindful Conversations and Active Listening. When talking with somebody, try not to get distracted by your other responsibilities. Try to be present and really listen to what the other person is saying. By giving the other person your full attention, you are creating connections with others and letting them know that you hear them.