There are so many different things that can affect mental health, but when I’m having a lower day or feel my anxiety creep up, I look to these 4 things first to see how I can alter my day.
I recently talked about how it’s okay to ask for help if you’re dealing with mental health issues. But what are some things you can do to help yourself feel better?
Obviously I suggest talking with your doctor and a therapist, but there are a few simple things I’ve noticed that make a huge difference in my mental state.
1. Getting Enough Sleep
If I don’t get enough sleep, more likely than not I’m going to struggle the next day. My depression and/or anxiety will be elevated and I have a much harder time getting through my day-to-day life. Things go downhill fast!
As a mom, it can be hard to guarantee a good night’s sleep. You never know when a kid is going to wake up sick or having soiled the bed. But there are a few things you can do to make sure you get adequate sleep:
- Go to bed at a decent hour. Use an alarm in your phone to remind you.
- Stop using electronics an hour before bed. Read or journal or listen to music instead.
- Take a bath with bath salts and lavender a couple hours before bed.
- Spray lavender on your pillow or diffuse it by your bed.
- Keep your room dark and cool.
- If you live with a spouse or significant other, talk with them and see if they’re willing to take the night shift with kids during particularly rough times.
2. Eating Healthy Foods at Frequent Intervals
I find that if I eat a lot of processed foods (particularly sugar), I’m more likely to have a low day. Also, I can’t go more than 3-4 hours without eating without paying for it. Obviously I don’t eat during the night, but I try to eat breakfast shortly after waking up. If I don’t, or I skip breakfast entirely, bad things happen.
In fact, when I’m spiraling, the first thing my husband asks is, “Have you eaten?” And oftentimes the answer is no. I have a hard time remembering to eat during the day because I’m so busy and keep telling myself, “I’ll eat after I finish this.” But then I start on a new task and say, “I’ll eat after this.” And the cycle continues. I don’t like to stop to eat 🙈.
If you’re like this, set alarms in your phone for certain times of day to remind you to eat. It sounds silly, but it’s super helpful and helps me stay on top of my mood.
3. Taking a Good Daily Vitamin
I take vitamins specifically made for depression and they’ve done wonders for me. I take two at night and two in the morning, and I notice when I forget to take them. This practice has made a world of difference for my mental health. (Note: this is not sponsored in any way. It’s just a product I personally use and love).
They are pretty pricey, so you can also try taking any multi-vitamin. Try to find one with a decent amount of Vitamin D and B Vitamins as those ones are important to mental health. I also suggest taking a capsule version rather than a tablet or gummy version. Capsule versions are better absorbed by the body, so you get more benefit.
4. Moving My Body and Exercise
When I’m feeling down and depressed, the last thing I want to do is be active. But it does wonders. I try to get a workout in first thing in the morning, so it’s done before I have a chance to get distracted. Then I try to stay active throughout the day. I know it’s said a lot, but exercise really does improve mental health–even if it’s just getting up and doing a quick lap around the room every hour. If I start to feel my mood decline, I try to force myself to get moving–take my daughter for a walk, do some jumping jacks, start a kitchen dance party with the kids, anything to get moving.
These Things Don’t Cure, But They Help
Obviously none of these things cure or completely take away my anxiety and depression. Not at all. It’s still a daily battle. But if I hit an extreme or scary low, I look to these four things first and usually one or more of them are missing.
If you deal with anxiety or depression, what’s something you do that you find helpful? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
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