There are plenty of things we can do to “look out for” our physical health. You know the drill: Eat right, get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, don’t smoke, don’t drink, get regular check-ups, drink lots of coffee and eat lots of chocolate. Okay, okay – I threw the last two in and, admittedly lack medical proof. But I stand by them, with my coffee cup in my hand and chocolate in my mouth.
There are also certain things we can do to “look out” for our mental health. As you read over the list, make a note of areas you need to work on – then do just that. Don’t start tomorrow, don’t start in a few hours. Start now.
WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
- Don’t Worry! Never, ever worry about the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn’t happen, you’ve wasted your time frowning and fretting. You might as well have been living! If it does happen, then you’ve set yourself up to live through it twice. This gives the negativity TWICE the impact it would have had. Experience has taught me that just about all of the things we worry about never happen anyway. And when they do? Frankly, they’re seldom as bad as we expect them to be.
- Get Plenty of Rest and Sleep. This tip is as popular on physical health sites as it is mental health sites. So, if it’s doubly important, shouldn’t we move Heaven and earth to carry it out?! We should get our required hours of sleep each night, but we shouldn’t stop there. We all need to set aside time each day to simply relax and enjoy being alive. This “Quiet Time” is vital to mental health because it essentially causes life to slow down and let you enjoy the ride as opposed to racing along, trying to hold on.
- Just Say No! Politely say, “No, I can’t possibly do that.” when a task, favor, or job would put strain on your mental health and well-being. Naturally, I’m not talking about responding to your boss in this manner – not if you want a job the next morning! I’m just saying that too often we let things get heaped upon us because we want to make everyone happy. Most of us have a terrible fear of letting people down or disappointing them. However, if we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed, overworked, and stressed – we’ll be letting ourselves down as well as them. Know when to say, “No.” You don’t have to be rude, of course. Just tell the person that you couldn’t give the project all the attention it deserves and that it wouldn’t be fair to them. It sounds better than, “Get that stress ball out of my path!”
- Communicate. People will never know that you’re feeling a little stressed or put upon if you don’t say so. If they get mad, it’s their problem. Maybe one day they’ll grow up!
- Get Thyself Out of the Past. I give this advice so much I should print up t-shirts. Below the headline would be the words, ‘There’s Nothing There for Thee!” Think about it. If you’re on a trip from Point A to Point K, when you hit H, what would be the point of driving back to C?! Been there, done that. Stay in the moment, with your eyes on your surroundings. Remember, the present is a gift – never try to exchange it for the past.
- Get Up Earlier. Yes, yes, I want you to get plenty of rest, BUT try to work your schedule in a way that’ll allow you more time in the morning. Getting up in a rush and hurrying out the door isn’t mentally sound. Give yourself time to slowly get up, take a nice shower, sit down with a cup of strong coffee and your favorite thing to eat in the morning. Maybe even work in a little time before your shower for yoga. Oooooh, bonus points for mental and physical health. This is something I used to do, but to be honest, I somehow fell out of the habit. I get up, on average, an hour later than I did even just a year ago. Now, it seems that I hit the floor running instead of pacing and I’m not too keen on it. I think a light bulb just went off.
- Out-think Yourself. Write down every password and necessary piece of information you could possibly need in several places. I keep several notebooks with information I need in them as well as an index card box with necessary information printed on the cards. I also have documents saved on each of our computers, so if something goes belly-up, I’m not right beside it, assuming the same position. Also, be sure you have a second set of keys, plenty of stamps, printer paper, tp, coffee beans,.. whatever is a necessity in your own particular world. LITTLE STRESSES ADD UP. Remind yourself of this as many times as possible. It isn’t the big events or disasters that do us in, it’s the continual dripping of undealt with stress.
- Be organized. This sort of goes hand in uncluttered hand with #7. It’s still about keeping the little stresses and headaches from piling up. Our own family desperately needs more bookshelves for several rooms and file cabinets for our home office. Things are beginning to pile up and get unorganized. Like my personal example of getting up an hour earlier and enjoying yoga a year ago, our home office once took better care of itself, too! There’s literally a pile of papers beside my husband’s desk that’s so high it’s leaning. The next time Alexa (our cat) runs through the house, I have a feeling that tower’s coming down. Another light bulb.
- Keep lists. Not just to do lists, although they are very helpful for organization. Keep lists of things you want to do, see, visit and enjoy. Having things to look forward to is a beautiful thing.
- Enjoy Your Life! Every single day, do some activity that you simply have fun with. I don’t care if your spouse thinks it’s a waste of time or not (have her or him take it up with me!). If you want to be a kid again, be a kid again! They’re happier than a lot of adults, anyway! Seriously, young people – from 3 to 30 seem to laugh more and enjoy life more than a lot of people over 30. One of the reasons, if you ask me, is the fact that they are VERY in touch with having a good time. When they go out to a ballgame, they’re there to have a great time. They aren’t there to criticize how much the third baseman makes or whether alcohol should or should not be served. They aren’t there to judge how teenagers are dressed or how the boys are wearing their hair. They’re there to have a great time! TAKE NOTES.
We get one shot at life and sometimes I think we’re making it more difficult and stressful than it needs to be. Make it your goal to bring more laughter, fun, and peace into your life and world. Get rid of the criticizing, nagging, complaining, and bellyaching. Quit judging. Quit looking at what the neighbors have. Count your blessings and be truly thankful for everything you have. You’ll live longer, you’ll be happier, people will flock to you, and you’ll be in a healthier place – mentally and physically.
Make each moment count double!