The last year and a half was such a garbage shit storm of unfortunate events. My life gave new meaning to that dreadful phrase “when it rains it pours,” and if feeling sorry for yourself was an olympic sport, I’m confident I would’ve hit some sort of world record. Being stuck at home because I lost my ability to drive (thank you double vision), left me with nothing but my own thoughts. And let me tell you, that bitch upstairs can be relentless. So from a girl who experiences her fair share of depression and anxiety, I wanted to share the things (many of which, I learned from Scott O’Neil) that have dramatically improved my mental health, in hopes that they may help you too.
- Move your body everyday (and if you can, do it outside)
I don’t care if you’re running on the treadmill, dancing in your kitchen, or walking laps around your neighborhood. JUST MOVE. Your mind will feel clearer, you will feel less tired, and you will feel more alive. I will never forget what Jonah Hill said in the documentary Stutz when he said, “When I was a kid, exercise and diet was framed to me as like, there’s something wrong with how you look. But never once was exercise and diet propositioned to me in terms of mental health. I just wish that was presented to people differently.” I too wish I knew this sooner. What a difference it makes.
2. Go outside at everyday
I don’t think I’d move my body as much as I do, if it wasn’t for those morning walks. There is something very special about being outside, soaking in the sun and breathing in that fresh air. And as a girl that certainly does not identify as outdoorsy, it has done wonders for my mental health.
3. Do something everyday for your mind
I personally love non-fiction books and podcasts, but this could be anything from listening to a Ted Talk, reading an article, or literally anything that challenges your thoughts and expands your knowledge about something, ANYTHING. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day (while I’m doing dishes, folding the laundry, or on my walks), it makes such a difference on my mood and my confidence.
4. Do something everyday for your soul
This can be in the form of prayer, meditation, or simply finding stillness (whatever that looks like for you). This is a work in progress for me, especially because I feel the need to make every minute of every day “productive.” However, when I do, I feel incredibly grounded and at peace.
5. Practice gratitude everyday
When I look back at the happiest seasons of my life, it’s always the ones that I actively practiced gratitude. This can be in the form of writing in a journal, or simply taking time out of your day to reflect. I personally love this journal linked here, but you don’t need to buy one to get the same results. The beautiful thing that happens when you do this regularly, is that you will find yourself looking for things throughout the day that you can write about. And soon after, you find yourself appreciating the littlest things in life that you otherwise would have missed.
6. Sleep + rest
I can’t tell you how many times throughout my life, I bragged about how busy I was or how little sleep I got as if it was something to be proud of. The science behind the importance of sleep is undeniable, and you’d be surprised how much it can affect your mood, your memory, and your overall health. And regarding rest, something I truly struggle with, I want to leave you with a quote by Scott O’Neil that completely knocked me off my feet. I may be paraphrasing here, but he said: I won’t tell you to slow down because I love the speed of life, but I will warn you that sometimes we brush through it at the expense of actually living it.
Important to note, these are just things that have made an immense impact on my mental health. They are not meant to replace therapy, or anything else that may be helpful to you or the specific situation you are in. If you’re going through a dark time, I highly recommend speaking to someone–whether it be someone you love and trust, or a licensed professional. However, just know this, it will get better, and you are not alone.