If you deal with any mental health diagnosis, you understand the importance of finding ways to manage it besides just medication. Medication does help many people who suffer from mental health diagnoses, but medication only helps so much. We must put in some of the work, as well. This is where coping skills and self-care come in. I have come up with 6 different ways to help manage mental health, which has personally worked for me in managing my depression and anxiety.
1. Find a Hobby!
If you don’t already have a hobby, then time to find one! A hobby is a great way to have an outlet to relieve stress and relax. Maybe you had a hobby you enjoyed doing in the past before life got busy, and you haven’t focused on it in a while. I encourage you to find some time during the week to spend a few hours just doing something you enjoy! For me, it’s reading a good book. For my husband, it’s tinkering on cars (he always has a project going on of some kind). Some people may enjoy photography, going on hikes, playing an instrument, yoga, fishing, painting, drawing, sculpting, & the list can go on.
I plan on doing a post soon of a list of different hobbies that can help your mental health, so look for that in the future.
Now you might be thinking, “I am NOT a writer”. That’s what is great about journaling, though. Journaling is just for you! You don’t have to show it to anyone. You can write about anything & everything. It doesn’t have to be legible or make sense to anyone except yourself. Just get a notebook and a pen and start writing whatever comes to mind.
- A few different journal prompts can be:
- How you are feeling mentally/physically.
- Events that happened in your day, either good or bad.
- Something you are anxious or worried about.
- Jot down some thoughts that are going through your mind.
You can journal on paper or your phone/tablet/computer. Whichever way works best for you! If you are worried about someone reading it, you can always rip it up and throw it away after you write it or hide it somewhere only you know. If you are journaling digitally, you can lock your device with a password or not save the document at all. Expressing how you’re feeling and what you are going through is very therapeutic, and I encourage you to try it out.
3. Sleep, sleep, sleep!
Now, this probably will not come as a surprise, but proper sleep is crucial for your mental and physical health. According to the CDC, adults should get 7+ hours of sleep each night. I realize some people have trouble sleeping for various reasons, but if you can try to at least go to bed at the same time each night and try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
I am preaching to myself on this one because I tend to stay up too late sometimes and regret it in the morning. If you have time during your day to even take a quick cat nap (10-20 minutes), that can help your energy level and mood, as well.
Now I am not trying to sound like your mom, but the connection between your mental and physical well-being and staying hydrated is scientifically proven.
According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood”.
It is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses (8oz) of water per day. According to Mayo Clinic, men need about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day, and women need about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day. Now, this also includes water you get from food and other beverages than just plain water. Different people may have to drink water, and some people might not have to drink as much water depending on their lifestyle, such as exercise or what you do for work. You can always consult with your doctor if you are unsure how much you need to drink daily.
Keep in mind that you are not stuck with only drinking plain water. You can flavor your water with fruit or veggies, such as berries, lemons, fresh mint leaves, orange slices, and cucumbers! Coffee and tea can also count toward your daily water intake. Now, this does not mean you can drink 8 cups of coffee a day, though, and call it good!
5. Surround Yourself with a Good Support System
A strong support system is beneficial for everyone, not just those struggling with a mental health diagnosis. We all need a support system, such as parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, or friends. Make sure to surround yourself with the people in your life who understand you and are there for you no matter what regularly. Your ride-or-dies, if you will. For me, this would be my husband, my kids, and my parents. They are my rock and my reason to keep going no matter what. I know they will always have my back, and support like that is irreplaceable by anything else in life. So, find your people. You will not regret it.
6. Allow Yourself to Have a Rest Day
Life gets busy, and it never seems like there is enough time in the day, right? Especially for all my fellow parents out there, you know kids keep you hopping! Not to mention chores, work, and anything else that pops up throughout the week.
However, no matter how busy life gets, you need to make sure to prioritize YOU. Take at least one day out of the week to take some time for yourself. Kick back and relax. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
– Binge-watch your favorite TV show.
– Settle into the couch with your favorite blanket, a good book, and a nice cup of coffee/tea.
– Take a long, hot bubble bath complete with a glass of wine and scented candles.
– Take yourself out for a Mani/Pedi or spa day!
– Make your husband give you a massage (you know what I’m sayin’, ladies!).
– Take a nap.
– Get out into nature (when the weather allows).
Anything that helps you relax and destress from your busy week of running kids around, keeping up with the piles of laundry, and working. Recharging is SO important to your mental and physical well-being. When you are constantly on the go and never give yourself time to rest and recharge, that is when burn-out happens.
Thanks for reading & take care,
The Importance of Hydration. (2017) Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Water: How much should you drink every day? (2020, Oct. 14) The Mayo Clinic.
How Much Sleep Do I Need? (2017, March 2). Center for Disease Control and Prevention.