How to Exercise Self-Care in Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I know what you're thinking. Another blog about "taking a bath and drinking a glass of wine or going to the spa"... No, not this time. It's Laura here, owner and founder of Ferne Boutique. We are all inundated with TOO MUCH content that is telling us what to do about our self care. Things like "just go to the spa and you'll feel better" is all we keep hearing and seeing on social media. To be honest, it's completely all about what works best for you. Here are some ideas and relatable ways I have found to feel better in times of stress and when I have felt overwhelmed.
First and foremost, why are we talking about this? Because it matters. I am not a doctor and am not providing any medical advice. I am simply going to tell you some of the things I have done for myself when I have felt overwhelmed.
1. Put your phone on do not disturb or airplane mode in the evening.... or anytime you need a minute.
It is so easy to sit and scroll, read emails, answer calls anytime of the day and night. I realized that I was feeling very anxious when I was constantly being available to everyone. If you are working on a big project, cleaning the house, being a mom, watching your favorite show or you don't want to be bothered for a little while, it is okay to silence your notifications or ignore your phone. You are not on someone else's timeline.
2. Focus on getting a good nights sleep every single night.
Sleep is so underrated as something that matters to our health. I feel it when I don't sleep well and am working a lot during the week. I put myself first when it comes to sleep. I go to bed at the same time every night and really need to shut down and shut my brain off because it is easy to let it race.
3. Take breaks during the day. Working constantly on anything will drive you crazy.
Stop entirely what you are doing twice or three times per day. Get up, go outside, take a walk, make your lunch and eat it away from your desk. Put your phone on the charger and leave it for a while. I know it is hard to do, because we can easily get distracted and start focusing on something else. I have genuinely set a timer for myself while folding laundry because it just a break, I don't need to be the laundry folding queen of the earth.
4. Do something to move your body that works for you.
I am not suggesting you go do anything you don't want to do. I will be the first to admit that I am not the greatest at daily workout or exercise. I don't get on bandwagons of Pelotons, couch to 5k, or unrealistic weight loss workouts. My focus is, what makes me feel good and how can I make it positive without feeling like it stresses me out more than it helps me? Walking my dog has really become something has helped me get outside, move my body and it doesn't feel like "work." We sometimes walk 2 miles per day and even when it is bitter cold outside it feels good to move.
5. Hang out with people that build you up and understand you.
As an extrovert, I love people and hanging out with friends, it just makes me feel better. Being open and honest and having friends that understand you is a great way to feel lighter. I surround myself with friends that align with my same goals. Entrepreneurs that are running growing businesses that are also human beings with significant others, Moms/Dads, pets, running households, etc. We all relate to each other so sharing our stories to be able to help each other out and provide advice has been extremely helpful.
6. Breathing! deep breath innnnnnnn (hold itttttt) and outtttttt woooosahhhhhhhhhh
Bad Boys 2 is literally my favorite movie and the ear rubbing "woosah" just makes me remember to breathe. Close my eyes, sit there, feet on the ground, and take a minute to think about where I am. I am not someone who meditates, but I know that taking a moment to breathe deeply, helps create a sense of calm. My to-do list is often very long, and I easily look at it and get psyched out. Let's get back to basics and just make our best effort in a day, without punishing ourselves and feeling good for what we accomplished.
At the end of the day, we all feel it. Overwhelm, too much going on and not enough time to get it all done. The point here, is that the more we focus on the things that overwhelm us, the more our stress and anxiety can rise. Remember, self-care and mental health looks different for everyone. Consult your doctor if you feel you need additional help or medical assistance.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. If you are a Michigan resident, simply dial 988 on your phone for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This line is toll-free and available 24/7.