I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read about the ways you can improve your mental health and thought about how I just didn’t have the energy for those things. I went through a period where I could not get out of bed before 10 am, sometimes sleeping until the afternoon, and finding myself without the time to really take care of my mental health. I write a lot about mental health, because I’ve experienced a lot of hardships due to my own. I have tried many things, and although some of them do not work, I have found some to be helpful in my day-to-day life, and I’d like to share these with you in case they become helpful to you too.
Waking up early
This one sounds kind of dumb, I know. How can you wake up early when you don’t have the motivation? A valid question, but it’s something I’ve tried and something that contributed positively to my days. When I would sleep half the day away, it left me with significantly less time to do the things I needed to, which would result in my evenings being constantly taken up by the things I could have completed earlier on in the day. This really brought down my mood because it felt like I was spending every moment working or studying because I’d missed out on the first half of the day. When you force yourself to get up early enough, you can make a plan for the day and accomplish enough to have an evening to yourself, or hang out with a friend, or really do whatever you want to and it not be work or school or some other obligation.
Another benefit of waking up early is being able to get to sleep earlier as well. The way I look at it, the earlier you go to bed, the earlier you can wake up, and vice versa. This means (hopefully) better sleep and sleeping habits, which conveniently enough also contribute to positive mental health changes.
This might be repetitive to what you’ve read before, but I really want to stress this one, and it actually goes hand-in-hand with your sleep habits. I could bore you with the scientific aspect of it, but I’ll skip that and tell you how it worked for me instead to give you a sense of a real story. For me, being active comes in a lot of different forms, and it can for you too! You don’t have to be an athlete or even go to the gym, there are so many ways to stay active that you’re bound to find one that works for you. For me, going to the gym, playing soccer, volleyball, tennis, you name it, they all help me stay active. For whatever reason (again, the scientific reasons I will not be citing here) doing some kind of physical activity once a day helps! It helps me sleep for sure, and it helps my body feel better, which believe it or not, helps my mind feel better too.
Take a Social Media Break!
This one I really want to stress. I know the past couple of years have been difficult because of COVID-19, and spending so much time at home, and online, it makes it hard to not be all over social media all the time. If any of the social media platforms, I highly recommend getting rid of TikTok, which is arguably one of the most addicting apps available right now. I think the addictive aspect of these apps can contribute to our mental health in a very negative way because apps like TikTok do provide a little cortisol boost, but the cost is pretty great. I’ll be honest, spending hours in bed watching TikTok is something I used to do daily, and I’ve struggled with a lot of things, like time management because of this. As well, a lot of the content on TikTok, and any other social media platform for that matter, can have really damaging content that would be best to stay away from. I’ve noticed a surge in people taking breaks from social media as of recently and I haven’t heard of any negative impacts of taking a step back. In fact, most people end up staying off certain social media platforms for good after taking a break, realizing they aren’t necessary in their lives, especially if they don’t contribute to their lives positively. Staying away from harmful news, imagery and content that might not make you feel good is always a good idea, so I really suggest you try it!
Lastly, I just want to stress that although some of these things may work for some people, be sure to tweak or adjust the things you try so that they work for you and your goals. For example, you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn every morning to reap the benefits of waking up ‘early’, instead you can wake up at 8 in the morning and still have hours to accomplish the things you need. In terms of being active, it doesn’t have to be every day, and it can really be something as simple as a walk outdoors (which is nice to take a break from your online work by the way). If social media provides a good outlet or escape for you, keep it! Social media is not for everyone, and if you reap the positive aspects of it, then, go for it! I’m simply sharing some of the tools I’ve used to improve my mental health and I can say that the past few months of trying my best to be consistent with these things has helped me in so many ways!