Mental Health Month: 5 Simple Things I Do Daily To Stay Sane
Mental Health Month is the perfect time for each of us to reflect on the ways in which we can better ourselves and strive to achieve emotional and mental well-being.
As a highly-sensitive, introverted, and socially-anxious individual, staying calm, grounded, and sane is a task that I need to work on daily. I have to work hard to stay relaxed and collected, and I have to put myself first a lot of the time, which is super hard for a people-pleaser like myself. If I don’t think of myself and designate time for myself and my hobbies, I usually get run down, tired, and begin to feel physically ill. Fortunately, I’ve started to incorporate 5 things into my daily routine, which has been a tremendous help.
Every person is different, and while these tips may work for me – they may not be for you. However, in honor of Mental Health Month, we’ll be sharing a series of tips and advice to help people cope with important Mental Health Month topics like anxiety, depression, and stress. Below, check out my top 5 tips for staying sane in a world of chaos, busy schedules, and overwhelming amounts of noise!
1. I Keep My Phone on Silent
As simple as it sounds, my stress levels have reduced significantly since I started keeping my phone on silent. I used to worry that I’d get an emergency phone call in the middle of the night, so I’d keep my phone volume turned up all day and night. I’d constantly be disrupted by the sound of emails and text messages coming in, and then I’d feel the need to check my phone in the middle of the night or while I was trying to sleep. But since I’ve started keeping my phone on silent (and staying off of social media as often as I can), I’ve started to feel so much better. There was something awful about the sound of receiving a message that skyrocketed my cortisol levels, but now I feel so much better checking my phone for messages when it’s most convenient for me, rather than feeling the need to pick up my phone every time I hear a notification come in.
2. I Make “Me Time” a Top Priority
Now that I make “me time” a top priority, I don’t know how I survived as long as I did without making time for myself. When I think of how busy I used to be, and how little time I set aside for quiet time, I start to realize that it’s no wonder I got cancer and felt fatigued for so long. As an introvert who enjoys down time, making time for myself is incredibly important in helping myself to feel sane and grounded. If I don’t have at least an hour or two to unwind each day, I start to fall into a hangover-like feeling during the course of the rest of the week. It may sound selfish to prioritize time for myself, but I really don’t mind! I know what I need, and if I’m going to be there for the loved ones in my life, I need to put myself first. Here are some things I do to make the most out of my “me time”:
- I put on comfy clothes, snuggle up under a blanket, and read.
- I laugh – doing things that make me laugh is incredibly important to me.
- I knit cozy scarves and watch television or a good movie.
- I hang out with my bunnies.
- I relax on the couch and gather my thoughts, or I just relax and avoid thinking about anything in particular.
- I do yoga.
- I soak in a long, hot bubble bath or detox baths using Epsom salts.
- I read books or magazines in the bath.
- I do at-home facials and apply invigorating facial masks.
- I write – sometimes I just need to vent and get my troubled thoughts and emotions out in the open.
- I love sitting outdoors, going on walks, hikes, or bike rides.
3. I Cook
Before I was vegan, I wasn’t big on cooking. I didn’t fully understand the importance of healthy eating or creating healthy, home-cooked meals. But now that I know how important cooking and healthy eating really are, cooking has become a fantastic way for me to unwind and reduce stress after a busy, mind-numbing day. Plus, the food we eat is often something we can control – which makes it a great strategy for combating feelings of anxiety. I like to meal plan every Sunday and put together a grocery list to help me decide what to make during the week, so I have one less thing to worry about after a busy week day.
4. I Sleep In When I Need To
When I was younger, I hated sleeping. I loved staying up late, surviving on very little sleep, and I didn’t prioritize sleeping in as much as I do now. If I’m able to, I allow time to sleep in on the weekends or on days that I don’t have to work. Plus, I always prioritize sleep so that I’m getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. When I don’t get enough sleep, I feel irritable, worried, and anxious, so I realize that getting plenty of sleep is important for my overall mental health.
5. I Avoid Overbooking Myself
I used to say yes to nearly any outing that I was invited to (for fear of missing out, or to avoid offending the people I said no to), but now I know that sometimes I need to stop, take a look at my already-busy planner, and decide whether I’m going to say yes to a social gathering that is probably going to drain me – or say no, and put my own needs first. Sometimes it’s a tricky decision – especially if I’m invited to do something I’d actually love to do – but other times I just know that I need to say no if it’s going to come back to bite me later. Luckily, my husband is the same way and we both prioritize downtime at home or unwinding together.
As a regular animal rescue volunteer and animal activist, I spent several years juggling volunteer responsibilities, a full-time job (and two different side jobs), while still trying to be a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, bunny mama, and employee. It was difficult taking a step back from it all, but I’ve learned that overbooking myself isn’t an option anymore and I can’t save the world if I don’t take care of myself before anyone else.