I believe our mental health runs on a continuum. It’s influenced by external environmental and social forces, and internal thoughts. Our families, our work, our friendships, catastrophizing - and even the weather (SAD) - can affect us. Here are some things I do to ensure my mental health is protected:
1. I prioritise sleep
This is absolutely my number one priority. When we don’t get our 7 - 9 hours it can cause us to be moody and short tempered. We are also more susceptible to stress and make poor decisions. The best trick for getting a better night’s sleep is to implement a bedtime routine - that means going to bed at the same time every night. Make your bedroom a sanctuary, keep it technology free and cool in temperature.
2. I am mindful of what media I consume
Do you always have the news on? The endless negative news cycle is proven to affect our mental health. I am super conscious about watching violent or scary things, because I know they will get stuck in my head. Social media is another one to be aware of - unfollow the accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. . To restore your faith in humanity try following uplifting social media accounts like Upworthy and Good News Movement.
3. I don’t continue friendships with people who let me down
I used to live in Hong Kong and, as an expat, was forced to make friends if I wanted to have a social life. Unfortunately, some of those friends didn’t value my time and would cancel or turn up super late. I quickly learnt you don’t have to be friends with everyone, your time is valuable and you are worthy of friends who have your back.
4. I set boundaries around work
My very first job out of university was at a fast-paced PR agency. I was expected to be ‘always on’ and I would dread going into work on Mondays. As I've gotten older, I’ve learned what my worth is to an employer, and now have the confidence to set boundaries that work for my life. Now that I am my own boss, it's actually about allowing myself to switch off and not feel guilty for taking a break. Being bored is when I am my most creative because I allow my mind to wander.
5. I focus on myself and how I can serve others
It's easy to spend your time gossiping about others and worrying about things you can’t control. But what I know for sure is that the time I spend thinking about myself and how I show up in the world everyday, is well spent. When we spend time judging others, it’s often because we are avoiding looking at ourselves properly.
6. I make time for physical activities
On busy days, it’s easy to say ‘I’ll just workout tomorrow’, but I notice a real difference if I have been sitting all day compared to when I've worked up a sweat or had a yoga session. Walking is proven to improve mental health and it's something everyone can do, no matter what your fitness level is. Physical activity doesn’t have to be going to the gym, either - it can be gardening, housework or running around at the park after your kids.
7. I enjoy being at one with nature
One of my favourite things to do is take my shoes off and walk on grass. I love being really present when I am connecting with nature - whether it’s smelling saltwater or the chill of fresh mountain air. Taking some deep breaths outdoors makes me feel really alive and reminds me that, in this moment, nothing else matters.
8. I limit screen time
I spend a lot of time in front of a computer for work, so limiting screen time helps to lower my stress and anxiety levels. Instead of scrolling, I'll read a paperback book or do a yin yoga sequence. I like to leave my phone in another room so I’m not tempted to check messages or social media.