21 Days to Improved Mental Health
If you are someone who struggles with your mental health, whether it be depression, seasonal affective disorder, anxiety, or something else, then I am sure you can commiserate when I tell you that for me, February is a damned hard month.
Those of us who struggle with mental health, and those who don’t, all know that winter can be a particularly tough time for keeping it all together. Depression can kick you in the butt, especially after the high of the holiday season. Seasonal affective disorder is generally kicking peoples’ butts come February as we all desperately wait for the sun to return. And for the rest of you, I can only imagine that at the very least you’re sick and tired of brushing snow off your car and slipping on ice and staring at grey and generally just done with winter.
All of which is my way of telling you that we all need to take some time to care for our mental health right now (and always).
I’m not about to tell you that walking through the forest is going to cure you. Because I legit hate when people say that to me and in my experience with chronic depression, there just isn’t a one-size fits all fix. But I have found personally that in conjunction with therapy and medication when I need it, self care in all its’ iterations can be hugely important as well.
There’s a ton of ways to interpret self care but my personal faves are things that are mostly free, help me work towards larger goals, and keep me focused on the important things as I’ve deemed them.
So I started brainstorming small things that I like to do when I need a boost, and decided to share these with you! I personally find that if I can make space in my life to do one thing every day that supports my mental health, I can keep myself from spiralling. Sometimes I fail, but I try to get back after it again the next day and maintain just a tiny bit of momentum.
Years and years later, it mostly works. I look for excuses to take time to care for myself, excuses to giggle (usually at myself or something totally absurd), and excuses to be around people who build me up.
I hope these tips help you if you need it, or at the very least give you some ideas for a more successful, productive, and healthy month!
Here are my 21 suggestions for 21 days to improved mental health:
Day 1 - Buy - or make - yourself a fancy coffee and take time to sip it and really enjoy the smell and the flavour. Put it in your fave cup for an added boost! I love a bulletproof coffee or just some nice hazelnut creamer.
Day 2 - Spend an extra half hour in bed reading a book before you get up and get after the day. Probably best on a weekend ;-)
Day 3 - Go for a really long walk, preferably in a park or by some water. If it’s cold just bundle up and do it anyways!
Day 4 - Start the day off with a silly youtube video or sketch that always makes you giggle. Or some cat videos. Whatever makes you happy (I personally love pug videos cuz I’m a crazy pug person).
Day 5 - Find a swing set in a park near you, and swing as high and as fast as you can. I cannot tell you why, but to this day, this is one of the fastest ways to change my mood for the better. Obviously, if it’s too cold, you may not feel up for it. Save this one for a day of sunshine so you get the added Vitamin C boost.
Day 6 - Take a yoga class or do at least 20 minutes of gentle stretching in your living room.
Day 7 - Make your bed before work. If you already do that anyway, then wipe down your shower before you step out.
Day 8 - Hang out with a friend. Anyone who makes you feel supported and that you can be yourself with.
Day 9 - Try something new today! Anything! An exercise class, or a hobby, a craft, or even just a different kind of coffee.
Day 10 - Prep tomorrow’s outfit for an easy start to the week. If you’re feeling energetic, prep the week’s outfits! It might even make you feel more stoked to get out of bed, knowing there’s one less decision to make.
Day 11 - Have a hot bath - add bubbles or a fancy bath bomb for an added treat.
Day 12 - Water all your plants and talk to them. Apparently, it doesn’t matter what you say, but the evidence suggests plants might like to hear from you every so often! Bonus, you might feel a little less lonely and get a little giggle at yourself in the meantime.
Day 13 - Get in a really intense workout if you can muster a bit of fortitude. You’ll feel better afterwards, even if it’s short.
Day 14 - Try spending the whole evening without social media. It’s hard, but it can be such a fantastic mental break. Even if all you do is watch tv, try to do it without picking up your phone and mindlessly scrolling at the same time.
Day 15 - Do something that makes you feel pretty (or handsome). Paint your nails, do a face mask, steam your face and do a super close shave - anything that makes you feel better about you.
Day 16 - Send someone a thank you note, a postcard, or a handwritten letter. I like to write my boo a postcard with a silly joke or a love note, then put a stamp on and pop it in the mail - even though we live in the same building! Because it has the added benefit of making him super happy to receive mail (don’t we all!?).
Day 17 - Meal prep for the week ahead. Even if it’s just chopping some veggies and buying leafy greens, take the stress out of the week by knowing you’ve got healthy lunches covered. This saves me when I start to feel so down that the basics of life get hard, time and again!
Day 18 - Organize your bookshelf. It’s so relaxing. I like organizing by size and colour, personally.
Day 20 - Open a bottle of wine and get really weird about the process; smell the cork, stick your nose in the glass, try to learn about the varietal and region, swish it around in your mouth. Embrace every bit of it. Then, you know, drink a glass ;-)
Day 21 - Do a session of Duolingo. I feel like a total badass whenever I learn something new, and languages are one of my fave things to just pick away at!
There’s a bunch of science that says it takes 21 days to create a new habit or break an old one, right? I hope you can find it in you to give yourself 21 days to practice self-care in all sorts of ways and see if you can make space for it in your daily routine.
Let me know what I’ve missed that you have found to be an awesome form of self care in the comments!