Mariah Harris, a mental health advocate and nurse, shares 21 easy ways you can improve your mental health with little time. We are all busy and life is stressful. We don’t always have time to dedicate hours to more complex ways to de-stress. Luckily for us, Mariah has 21 awesome tips that we can use to care for ourselves throughout the day.
Last week I kept telling myself I would take a bubble bath. I’m talking the nice bubble bath with big ol’ bubbles and no distractions. I don’t have kids yet, but my dogs make up for it by never leaving me alone, getting into everything, and leaving messes. Ugh! Gotta love them though, but next thing I knew the week was over and no bubble bath was taken.
Life is busy right? Whether it’s work, family, friends, our mental health is easy to put on the backburner. It’s time we change this. I’m not saying dedicate hours and hours to self-care because that’s not realistic. I’m saying let’s try doing some small things throughout the week that make ourselves feel better. Doable right? I’d say so. So, I came up with a list of different ways you can take small amounts of time to improve your mental health. Some of these will require more time than others, but this is a great reference to look at when you need an idea! Here we go!
21 Easy Ways to Improve your Mental Health
- Set Small Goals
Read it. Small goals. Not long, huge life-changing goals. Small short-term goals that over time can make a huge difference.
I’m talking H2O here, not more wine. HAHA. Even just working on being more mindful and drinking EVERY TIME you feel thirsty. I tried this, and I realized I’d been ignoring my thirst cues. Crazy right?
3. Schedule Sleep
Get some good ZzZzZz. Set that timer and go to bed 30 mins earlier. Nice and cozy.
4. Get Outside
Go outside and work on mindfulness. Feel the air against your skin, notice the smells, what you feel, and focus on the things you see. Do this for 5-15 minutes. However long you have. It will help you relax.
Let your inner-child roar. What did you enjoy playing with as a kid? What activities did you enjoy doing? Now go and enjoy!
6. Think Positively
I know for me negative thoughts easily sway in and out of my mind. Training my brain to think positively has been a struggle. The struggle is reeeeeal, but as it’s become more second-nature it has led to more calmness, happiness, joy, and less stress. I’m not saying every day is easy because they aren’t, but trying is what’s most important.
Set an amount of time for yourself and get rid of that technology. They went how long without technology before us? I think we can go a couple of hours. HAHA. When I do this my tension and anxiety seem to almost instantly go away. Bye stress, hello freeeedom.
8. Treat Yourself
A couple of days ago I went and bought my first snow cone of the season. Yes, it had gummy bears. The gummy bears mixed with strawberries and cream flavor was PURE heaven. I felt like I was a kid again. All I had to do was smell it and memories as a kid during summer kept coming into my head and making me all sorts of happy. What do you do to treat yourself?
9. Deep Breathing Exercises
There are all sorts of breathing exercises, but as a nurse, my favorite is the 4-4-4-4. Breath in for four, hold for four, out for four, hold for four. I usually repeat 3-5 times depending on how stressed I am. I am adding a link to look at other breathing exercise ideas. Try different ones and see what works best for you! Calm
10. Blast some Cold or Hot Air
Stuck in the car? Try to get as comfortable as possible. Blast whatever air makes you feel best at the time and listen to some groovy music. Sing along if you feel like it!
Some days I don’t feel like journaling and truthfully lately I haven’t at all, but when I do sometimes I just write cuss words. Ya, you read that right. Cuss words. It helps me get my stress out. Journaling is a great way to de-stress. It’s what led me to blogging! So, get out and buy a cute journal, fun pens, and get writing.
12. Call a Friend
Call your bestie and catch up!
13. Set Boundaries
It’s okay to say no! Take time for yourself and make yourself a priority. If you don’t feel up to going to lunch, then take care of yourself. This has been a huge struggle for me during my eating disorder recovery. Prioritizing others is second-nature to me, but to make myself first is HARD. I’m really working on this one.
14. Drink a Cup of Tea
Or… hot chocolate… coffee…. Whatever is warm and brings you comfort. Get cozy and grab a book.
15. Go for a Drive
Driving with no destination can be fun for some. If this brings you anxiety, then don’t try this. Make sure you take your favorite drink with you and listen to good music.
I drive to each patients’ house as a home health nurse. Even though destinations are set, I really enjoy the driving. The scenery changes as I go all the way from inner city to the country with gravel and dirt roads. My mind relaxes, and I become aware of the music playing and the scenery around me.
16. Listen/Dance to your Favorite Music
Make a playlist of your favorite songs and dance.
17. De-clutter that Junk
Do you enjoy cleaning? Not me. I do feel better though after I’ve cleaned an area that needs it. AKA right now my whole house. I’m going to work on this one. Really though, don’t you feel better once you’ve cleaned that area in your house that annoys the heck out of you?
18. Wear Something Comfy
This is a catch 22. Somedays it’s important to take care of your appearance, but somedays make sure you take care of you and just relax in something comfy. Along with this drink your tea, hot cocoa, or coffee and read a good book.
19. Eat your Fruits and Veggies
Does your mood improve when you eat more fruits and veggies? Mine does. I’m not telling you to become a vegetarian but add some colorful fresh veggies and fruit to your balanced diet.
3-min, 5-min, whatever amount of time you have sit and relax in a comfortable position. Now close your eyes and focus on your favorite place. For me I imagine myself on a warm, sandy beach with bright blue water and the sun on my skin. For you though, pick this place and go there. Now focus on all your senses: taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing. Focus on your senses and what’s going on there as you relax for as long as you can.
21. Order dinner
Go ahead and order dinner in. Cooking is wonderful, but order some of your favorite food in and watch a good movie. Maybe take a bubble bath too?
As life is busy, I hope these easy ideas help you de-stress. Remember that you are important and worth prioritizing. This may seem hard to believe at times and that’s ok, but it’s true. There is no one else like you and the only person who can truly take care of you is yourself.
Mariah Harris is a wife, dog momma, nurse, and mental health advocate from Oklahoma. She has struggled with mental health issues including an eating disorder since a young age. She understands the struggle and thinks it’s time for her voice to be heard! Learn and grow with her at www.mariahharris.org