1 in 5 adults in America experiences a mental illness. 1 in 25 adults in America lives with a serious mental illness. Unless you’re living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve noticed that many people are talking more about mental health and it’s starting to feel more and more normalized in society. COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we live our lives. The series of killings in the black community and the toll of systematic racism also adds to the stress many of us are feeling daily. It’s important more than ever to find peace even when it feels like you’re living in a chaotic world. Here are 7 ways to prioritize your mental health daily:
1. Set boundaries with your loved ones
Whether you live with family members or not, it’s important for you to set boundaries with them. You cannot be available 24/7 for other people. The best way to prioritize your well-being is to set clear boundaries. You can do this by communicating clearly with your loved ones. Unless it’s an emergency, don’t feel bad telling your significant other you can’t talk right now but you’re available in an hour or setting a time to spend quality time with your kids or talk on the phone with your mom. Way too many people bend over backward for other people but don’t have the same courtesy for themselves.
When’s the last time you checked in and asked yourself, “how are you feeling right now?”. One of my favorite quotes is “You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” Next time you’re about to extend yourself for someone, take a moment to think about whether you’re at a mental capacity to serve someone else right now.
2. Turn off your notifications & set app limits
I have a love/hate relationship with my phone. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected with people and full of entertainment but it’s also can be a huge distraction and time suck. Have you ever had a moment where your email alerts were going off, your phone was vibrating, and someone in another room was calling your name? Just the thought of that moment makes me feel overwhelmed. Two things that have helped me limit my time on my phone and feel less overwhelmed by various different alerts, is setting app limits and turning my notifications off. Sorry Android users, I can’t speak for you but this is possible for iPhones. All you need to do is go into the Settings —> Do Not Disturb to turn your notifications off and go into Settings —> Screen Time —> App Limits, to set app limits for commonly used apps like Instagram.
3. Take news breaks
Sometimes we just need to turn our electronics off and take a break. Watching the news can be very overwhelming. Our brains are already wired to focus on the negative and the news often elevates our stress levels and makes us focus even more on the negative in the world. When it starts to feel like too much, indulge in a hobby. Cook a meal, read a book, listen to music, exercise, take a nap, etc. just do something that takes your mind away from what’s stressing you.
I personally love writing, it’s such a mental relief for me. I journal every morning. Research shows that journaling boosts your memory, emotional intelligence, self-discipline, and helps you heal from difficult experiences. A lot of times when I’m writing in my journal, I’ll be venting about all the negative things affecting me and eventually end with writing much more positive and affirming things. It truly amazes me every time how just getting my thoughts out of my head and on to paper makes me realize how ridiculous some of my worries are, and how the majority of them are what-ifs with no facts to support them. If you’re in need of some journal prompts, check out this list from Shine.
We all know how amazing meditation is for our well-being. Meditation reduces stress, anxiety, and improves your attention span, memory, and mindfulness. Yet many of us don’t even take 5 minutes to breathe. If you don’t meditate regularly, I suggest creating a YouTube playlist full of guided meditations or downloading an app like Aura, Headspace, or Calm and picking a specific time every day to meditate. Do it alone or encourage friends to do it with you and hold you accountable.
A lot of us are much more sedentary then we’re used to being. Moving your body is amazing for stress relief because it releases your feel-good hormones called endorphins. It’s important to move your body daily, even if it’s just going for a walk because it does wonders for your mental and physical health. I fell in love with working out 5 years ago because I loved the way I felt after I was done, the results were just an added bonus. Find a workout on YouTube, download a fitness app, take an online fitness class, or invest in some equipment and workout at home if gyms aren’t open yet in your area.
7. Do something that makes you happy
We all deserve some fun every day for our mental health. You work hard and you need rest. Spend some time every night doing something that makes you smile. Whether it’s drinking a glass of wine, watching your favorite show, hanging with your boyfriend, doing arts and crafts, podcasting whatever it is, incorporate something fun into your day. I treat it like a reward for all the effort I put in throughout the day. If you’re not completely sure of what makes you happy. Write a list. I keep a list of things on my phone to remind me to do something on that list daily.
If you’re struggling to keep it together and are interested in getting help. Don’t let stigmas keep you from investing in therapy. Here are some resources to find therapists you can meet virtually: Headway, Psychology Today, Therapy For Black Girls, and Zen Care. I found my therapist through psychology today and talking to her has transformed my life. If you want to hear more about my experience or have any questions, DM me on Instagram.