It’s becoming more and more common to talk about mental wellness, especially when it comes to seeking help for a mental health disorder. While reaching out for help is certainly encouraged for those who live with a mental health condition, promoting mental well-being doesn’t always have to mean seeking treatment for a mental illness. In fact, taking care of mental health should be just as much a part of your day as caring for your physical well-being. Starting the day with some self-care habits can go a long way toward improving your mental health and reducing the negative effects of stress. Here, learn about five strategies for starting the day out on the right foot, in order to promote psychological well-being.
The Importance of Caring For Mental Health
World Mental Health Day will be celebrated on October 10, 2022, to remind us how important it is to take care of our mental health. This day raises awareness of mental illness and advocates for quality treatment for people who live with mental health conditions. As we celebrate this day, it’s also important to remember that in the case of mental health, prevention is sometimes the best medicine. Being proactive by caring for yourself not only physically, but also psychologically, can reduce your risk of developing mental health symptoms that interfere with daily life.
Morning Strategies That Promote Mental Wellness
If you’re in the habit of rolling out of bed just in time to shower and rush out the door to work, you may be doing yourself a disservice. With busy schedules and late nights, it’s understandable that you may want to hit the snooze button, but carving out just an extra half hour in the morning can give you time to practice small habits that add up to big changes in your mental and emotional functioning.
Consider starting your day with one or two of the five strategies below, and you’re likely to notice the positive impact they have on your daily functioning.
Get some exercise.
It’s no secret that physical activity is beneficial for overall health, but it can also make a world of difference in your mental health functioning. The positive effects of exercise are so strong that they can even benefit people in high-stress occupations, such as the armed forces. A recent study found that military employees who completed morning exercise experienced significant reductions in depression, anxiety, and stress. Making time for physical activity in the morning can help you to start the workday in a better state of mind, with a stronger ability to tackle any stress you face throughout the course of the day. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense or painful to be beneficial. Pick a movement you enjoy, whether it’s weight lifting, going for a run, doing some yoga poses, or riding a stationary bike. You can even choose something you can do at home, such as a quick dumbbell circuit, or a walk around the block.
Have some quiet time.
Enjoying a few quiet moments before the day starts can really make a difference in your overall mood and functioning. Quiet moments allow you the opportunity to practice mindfulness, which is the art of staying attuned to the present moment, without worrying about the past or future.
Morning mindfulness may involve enjoying a cup of coffee on your own, while making note of any sensations and emotions surrounding the moment, such as the smell of the coffee, or the feeling of contentment that arises as you take your first sip. Alternatively, you may use quiet time in the morning to be mindful of your goals and intentions for the day.
Making a habit out of mindfulness can reduce stress and improve your functioning throughout the day. A study of workplaces that incorporated mindfulness training found that employees experienced increased levels of energy and concentration, combined with reduced procrastination and less stress at home.
Taking time to acknowledge things for which you are thankful is a positive way to start your day. You can make gratitude a regular part of your morning routine by taking a moment to pray, making a list of what you’re grateful for, or starting a gratitude journal.
You can also incorporate a gratitude practice into your day by writing to people for whom you are grateful. A study in the journal Psychotherapy Research found that people in therapy experienced better mental health when they wrote letters expressing gratitude to others when compared to individuals who were in therapy but did not participate in gratitude writing.
Regardless of what specific practice you choose, making a habit out of gratitude can give you a rosier outlook, and help you to foster healthy relationships with the important people in your life. Starting your day with a gratitude practice can shift your thinking and keep you attuned to the positive aspects of life.
Offer yourself small rewards.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to get up and move in the morning. Some of us may even dread starting the day and heading off to work. If this sounds like you, chances are that your days tend to be stressful and perhaps even unfulfilling, which can understandably take a toll on mental health.
Instead of viewing the morning in a negative light, offer yourself a small reward to start the day. This might be treating yourself to a latte on the way to work, or even sitting down and reading a favorite book or magazine for a few minutes while getting ready for the day. These small rewards reinforce the act of getting your day started, and can even help you to associate your mornings with pleasure.
Drink some water.
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of hydration for overall functioning, but the truth is that drinking enough water can really make a positive impact on your mental health. In fact, studies have shown that being hydrated makes it easier to sustain attention to difficult tasks. People also tend to feel more calm and alert after consuming water.
If you don’t have much extra time in your mornings, something as simple as having a glass of water can get your day started off on a positive note. If you’re dehydrated or routinely struggle to consume enough fluids, making a habit out of starting the day with water can be especially beneficial.
If you find that stress and anxiety levels are starting to interfere with your mood and functioning over the course of the day, making some changes to your morning routine may improve your mental health and reduce the impact of stress on your daily life. When you continue to struggle with negative mental health symptoms, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, it may be time to reach out for additional support. If you live with depression and have not responded to other interventions, you may benefit from transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) services. This non-invasive treatment modality is offered at Pulse TMS, which is conveniently located in Los Angeles. Contact us today to learn more or to determine if you’re a candidate for TMS.