The foundation of mental health is that you must attend to your most fundamental needs before you can fully attend to your psychological needs. This includes things like diet, exercise, and sleep.
When under stress, and especially when busy, it’s common to slip into eating meals that are quick and easy, rather than nutritious. Food fuels our bodies and minds, and it’s important to get the fuel needed to function at your best. Try meal prepping if you can spare a few hours, or ask a partner or a friend to do it for you. An alternative is to sign up for a meal delivery service. It might be worth the money if it eliminates some of your stress and worry and ensures a healthier diet. Healthy snacks are important too if you’re having a hard time getting a full meal throughout the day. Snacks can help keep up your energy level. And of course, hydration is important too. Staying hydrated is crucial as well, as it impacts your energy level and mood. Try keeping a water bottle nearby and set up a buddy system at work so you can take bathroom breaks as needed.
When work has you feeling drained, making time to exercise often gets punted to the bottom of your list. Getting your heart rate up though can be a great way to stave off stress. If something physically intensive seems like too much, try yoga or taking a 30-minute walk. If you can move your body, it will be worth it. However, don’t anticipate instant impacts, but it should help you release tension and keep your mood more stable.
Sticking to a regular sleep schedule is important, but it can be difficult if you’re working irregular hours and stressed. Some things to try include setting a bedtime each night. If that isn’t practical because of shift changes or caring for an elderly parent or infant, try setting up a bedtime routine; something you do each time before you go to bed. It can be a simple routine: brush teeth, wash face, brush hair, put on pjs, and read for 15 minutes. Perhaps you might need to turn on the air purifier and Norah Jones for 10 minutes before bed. The actions aren’t as important as the consistency. Doing the same thing before sleep, whether doing that at 10 PM or 9 AM, is what is important and will que your body to begin winding down for rest.
There are many ways to effectively reduce stress. Everyone is different though, and what works for you might not work for your partner, son, or friend. Create your own list of coping skills that work for you, but know that it might require a bit of experimentation to get the formula right.
Things like guided meditation, working out, and journaling are popular strategies, but don’t hesitate to get creative! Start some sort of craft – even just doodling with a pen and paper or breaking out an adult coloring book are great options. (Check out continuous stroke drawing if you’re looking for something different.) You can practice gratitude by naming three things you’re thankful for. These can be big things, like your health, or small things, like seeing a pretty flower on your way to work. Grab a good book to get lost in, start working on a puzzle, or zone out with a funny movie. If you’ve tried something in the past that hasn’t worked, give it another chance – you may find it helpful this time around!Ideas from Mental Health America
6 Tips for Healthy Relationships
- Approach your situation (and each other) with acceptance. It’s okay and realistic to have negative thoughts and feelings. Resisting the situation and ruminating about how hard it is, won’t help.
- Build a strong foundation. Use your time to get to know each other more fully. Connect with those you’ve been separated from through video chats and phone calls. Share your hopes, dreams, and goals.
- Be purposeful about your relationship. Agree to make mutual support a priority, and approach your conversations as opportunities to talk about superficial things and deep emotions.
- Expand your focus. There’s a lot more to our daily lives and internal experiences. Make sure your conversations are about more than just the “fluff” of life.
- Foster a sense of adventure. Experience the world together.
- Learn and grow together. Set aside time to discover shared interests and hobbies or to learn how to do something your partner loves to do.