Mental Health. It’s a topic we hear about all the time and honestly, I feel like as much as we have embraced the idea that we need to care for ourselves, we are still somehow missing the mark. So, let’s be real…is there anything more annoying than being told by someone who is totally ripped to love your body how it is and respect how amazing it is? While extremely true (you SHOULD love yourself AND respect how cool your body is) it’s often hard to hear those words from someone who seemingly has their life “put together”. Fortunately, there has also been an influx of “imperfect” people flaunting their flaws in a beautifully raw and honest way and wow; I am so thankful for that! Because we all have some kind of blemish, whether scars or stretch makes or whatever and it’s so important that we fess up to the fact that we’re not perfect and more importantly….we don’t have to be perfect.
It’s not our job to be perfect. It’s not our job to impress everyone else or prove that our lives are totally awesome. Because there’s beauty in truly loving your life but there’s also beauty in accepting that not every moment is going to be an incredible adventure. It’s okay to be introverted. It’s okay to be moody. And it’s okay to not be 100% put together ALL the time. It’s OKAY. You are OKAY.
So…mental health. What does that even mean? I am going to take a leap here and say that it’s different for everyone and what keeps you healthy and put together is probably going to look a lot different than what keeps someone else healthy and put together. But being mentally healthy has to be a balance of caring for yourself and caring for others. If you spend all of your energy making sure that you are taken care of, you’re missing a huge chunk of what it means to be a human (loving others) and the same is true for those spending their time only on others.
There has to be a back and forth balance, because both others and yourself are IMPORTANT. I’m going to be seriously honest here and say that taking care of my mental and physical health is really REALLY difficult in my current season of raising littles. Sometimes (or a lot of the time) I know I’m just functioning in survival mode and I really don’t want to live like that…because it sucks and it’s not good for me or my family or anyone else for that matter. So, I am on a journey to end that kind of life…because I don’t want to be walking around acting out of impulse. I want to be mindful and full of vibrancy. So here are my top five self care habits to help improve my mental and physical state:
1. Getting creative! It’s amazing what can happen to a person when they stop pursuing what fuels their heart. I have always been an avid writer, but after moving to NYC six years ago, a lot happened that I wasn’t expecting (another story) and to keep it short and sweet, I lost a lot of my drive and passion. And the worst part of it all is that I kinda forgot how to be creative. Ugh. It’s so frustrating. I went from being able to put a blog together in minutes to struggling to even write two or three sentences. It seriously is so hard for me now! So I have been on a mission this past month to dive head first into what I so easily run away from now; blogging. I have started writing so many times, always ending with frustration and disappointment because I just find it so hard to get everything out on paper these days. But enough is enough and I am hoping that by putting myself out here, writing at least something daily, and being as intentional with writing as I can that it will progressively become easier.
2. Consistent Movement! I don’t have to make it to the gym every day, but I do have to be active every day…and that can look different depending on how I am feeling. Sometimes it means going for an hour weight lifting session, sometimes it’s a three mile walk, and sometimes it’s just running around outside with my kids. It can be anything, so long as I am fighting the urge to stop moving…because I know that my mental health shifts dramatically when I’m not keeping up with workouts or an overall active lifestyle. Currently, my schedule is 4x/week at the gym to lift weights, two days of body weight workouts at home, and one rest day, but sometimes it looks more like one body weight workout and two rest days. I just try to pay attention to how I am feeling and go from there.
3. Hygienical Love If there is one thing I have struggled with most of my life, it’s staying on top of hygiene. I’m definitely not one of those consistently put together girls. I struggle so hard to make sure I am getting showers, staying on top of skin, mouth, and overall body care. But it’s something I have been prioritizing the last few months because when I am taking care of those extra little things, I know that my mental health is in a good place.
4. Sleep Oh my gosh. I can’t stress it enough. GET YOUR SLEEP. Sleep is SO important and definitely one of the most neglected aspects of life. I LOVE sleep. One of my absolute favorite things to do is crawl into a warm, clean bed and sleep for hours. And, if an opportunity arises, I am all about naps. I just feel so refreshed and empowered when I’m not fighting against sleep deprivation. And everything about my day is just so much better: less anxiety, happier, more motivation, etc. And some really frustrating side effects of not getting enough sleep also include getting sick easier and more often, it increases appetite because your body is trying to make up for a lack of energy with food, it can dramatically raise your risk for numerous heart problems, and a whole list of other health problems. So GET YA SLEEP. You deserve to feel rested.
5. Nutrition Possibly the hardest one for all Americans when it comes to caring for ourselves is nutrition. It’s definitely easy to eat all of the processed and beautifully packaged foods when they often seem less expensive and more available. But nutrition has a major impact on your mental health for many reasons, but a few obvious reasons stand out. Like, when you eat healthy, whole foods you are probably feeling a sense of love towards yourself, because you know you are doing something good for your body. Processed foods leave you feeling hungry even after eating and as you continue to increase your intake of high calorie foods, obesity can become a real issue and having a negative body image ALSO affects mental health. Honestly, I could talk about nutrition all day, but the bottom line is…if you aren’t putting quality foods into your body, you can’t expect your body to work the way it’s supposed to (without brain fog, sluggishness, apathy, depression, low self-esteem, fatigue, etc).
Sometimes we get so stuck in this place of feeling like mental health is something we can throw onto the back burner and take care of later. But the problem is that so many people never do take care of it later and it just keeps getting pushed further and further back until something completely life changing happens…something that potentially could have been prevented with a little self love. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish and it benefits SO many more people than just yourself…like your family and your friends and even strangers. Love yourself friends and take care of your mental health.