If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that there is beauty in slowing down. That’s why we created The Slow Living Series. Throughout this year, we’ll be exploring what slow living truly means and the tactile ways that we can implement it into our daily lives. In part two, we’re diving into 11 tools and tips for taking care of your mental health every day.
This past year has been a difficult one, friends. And for most of us, this has shown up in our mental health.
In fact, a recent survey found that 1 in 5 Canadians have experienced depression, anxiety, and/or PTSD as a result of the pandemic.
With social restrictions and working from home, it’s easy to go into autopilot mode – powering through the day and neglecting our mental health in the process. But when we stop putting our mental health first, it can impact our physicalhealth. And that often includes our skin.
If you’ve been putting your mental health on the back burner lately, know this: you arenot alone. But there are some very practical things you can do daily to start putting self-care on the top of your priority list.
Here are 8 of the most effective ways to truly put your mental health first.
- Know that it’s okay to not be okay
Read that out loud if you need to. Write it in a journal. Then read it out loud one more time. Understanding this simple (but necessary) principle is the first step to improving our mental health.
It’s not just about identifying or acknowledgingwhen we’re feeling low. It’s also about knowing that there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling that way. It’s natural, inevitable, and — especially in 2021 — universal. The kinder you are to yourself, the easier it will be to move forward in your mental health journey and implement the tools on this list.
- Meditate every day
For us, this one is a no-brainer (no pun intended). Meditation is one of the best things you can do for your brain. Countless studies have shown that meditation creates long-lasting structural changes in areas responsible for cognitive, sensory, and emotional processing. Put simply, meditation makes your mind stronger.
If you’ve never meditated before, start off slow. Try a simple 5 or 10-minute guided meditation once a day. Free apps like Insight Timer and podcasts likeMeditation Minis are incredible resources for beginners and experienced meditators alike. By allowing your body and mind to be still, even if just for 5 minutes, you’ll start to see how beneficial it can be for your mental health.
Remember: be patient with yourself. Not every meditation is going to be easy. But the more you practice it, the better you’ll become!
- Take your sleep seriously
Sleep is the time when our bodies recover, both mentally and physically. That’s why poor sleep is such a common contributor to mental health problems (and sensitive skin).
To ensure you’re getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours per night, make sleep a non-negotiable in your life. If you wake up feeling like you need an extra 30 minutes, allow yourself to take it. And if your body is telling you it needs a mid-day nap, grab the nearest pillow.
Create a pre-bed routine to help relax your mind, whether it’s a warm bath, a good book, or a nighttime meditation. This will improve your sleep quality and duration. Remind yourself that sleep is as essential as food and water. And the more rested your mind is, the more high-functioning it can be.
- Give yourself permission to fill your cup first
This is a tough one for many people, especially women and mothers. So often, we’re taught to take care of others before we take care of ourselves. But the truth is, we’re better at filling someone else’s cup after we’ve already filled ours.
To implement this concept into your life, start making very deliberate choices with your schedule. Book off time to do things that make you feel happy and mentally fulfilled. Whether it’s a nature walk, a therapy session, or a phone call with your best friend, write it on your calendar so that you’re held accountable to that time.
As you start doing this, you’ll notice that little interruptions will try to get in the way of your scheduled self-care time. Have integrity with your calendar. Remember that filling up your cup is not selfish or frivolous — it’s a mental health necessity.
- Redefine productivity
How many times have you felt unproductive because you weren’t working or checking off a task? When we define productivity as doing, we rob ourselves of the health benefits that come fromnot doing—from simply resting or being still.
At Iremia, we define productivity as anything that fills up your cup. For some people, that might be work. For others, that might be spending quality time with their kids. For most, it’s a mix of many things that bring them peace and happiness.
When we redefine productivity, we become so much more productive in improving our mental health. So, what does productivity mean to you? And how can you implement more of it into your life?
- Incorporate movement into your day
While stillness is one of our core values here at Iremia, movement can be equally beneficial for our mental health. Scientific research tells us that regular exercise is a key factor in improving your mood, increasing energy levels, and easing anxiety and depression.
Take time in your day (every day) to move, whether it’s an afternoon walk or a simple yoga flow. It’s not about a tough workout or an intense sweat session. It’s about stimulating your blood flow, activating your happy hormones, and being present in your body (and mind).
- Create calm spaces
A calm space is an environment that provides a sense of complete tranquility. A state of being where you feel serene, worry-free, and present. Many people will meditate in their calm spaces. Others might take the opportunity to journal, stretch, or simply breathe.
A calm space can be a physical location or a sensory experience. For example, there might be a song that fully relaxes you and clears your mind. Or maybe it’s the calming effect of your favourite skincare routine.
By combining both tangible and intangible elements, you can cultivate all sorts of calm spaces throughout your day. To learn how, read part one of our Slow Living Series here.
Do you have calm spaces in your life? If not, where can you create them?
- Adopt more minimalism
You’ve probably heard about minimalism once or twice in recent years. At its core, minimalism is about freedom. Freeing yourself from material objects, stress, overwhelm, health concerns, and even debt.
Essentially, a minimalist approach is one that aims to do more with less. A minimalist home is less cluttered and easier to clean. A minimalist workload is better for our mental and physical health. And a minimalist skincare routine is safer for our skin and the environment.
Most of all, minimalism is a mindset shift. It allows us to tie less of our value to material things and focus more energy on the people we love and the activities that bring us joy. That’s why minimalism is such a powerful tool for mental health. Read part one of our Slow Living Series to find out how you can incorporate more minimalism into your life.
You deserve to put your mental health first
Most of us know why mental health is important. But despite increasing mental health awareness around the world, we don’t always know how to take care of it or make time for it.
No matter how busy life gets, it’s important to remember that you not only have time for self-care — you deserve it. You deserve every single mental health tool on this list. You deserve moments of peace and days of rest.
And, most of all, you deserve to be happy, healthy, and in love with life.