As life returns to somewhat “normal” after a long and stressful pandemic, it’s a good time to step back and determine what kinds of habits and routines can be beneficial in your life during trying times – and even during the smoother seasons of life. Studies show that 53% of Americans felt their mental health was negatively affected as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s often felt like we’re just moving forward, sometimes without taking a break to assess which direction we’re moving in. And while diving right in can be a good thing, it’s often necessary to take time to understand how you’re feeling and how you’re coping with the adjustments, for your own mental health. Whether you’re just heading back into the office full-time, sending your kids to school after staying home for so many months, or adjusting to seeing faces rather than masks, it’s a great time to create room for the daily practices that can help you find balance.

Here are five ways to make your mental health a priority:

  • Build a routine
  • Routines can help you feel organized and productive. Getting back into the swing of having a set schedule and time to be everywhere can take time and extra patience. Set yourself up for success by writing things down, giving yourself extra time for unknowns and remember that typically people who establish routines are happier and less stressed. Give yourself time to adjust to this new schedule, and don’t forget to make time for fun.

  • Do a cell phone detox.
  • If you think you don’t need a cell phone detox, we suggest you take a look at your phone’s screentime app. For IOS, go into settings and look at Screen Time. For Android, go into settings then click Digital Wellbeing. You’ll see how much time you’re spending on the different apps, how many times you unlock your phone, how many notifications you’re receiving and more. This information often shocks smartphone users – you think you’re just going to check your email quickly and before you know it, you’ve been mindlessly scrolling social media for 15 minutes. If you see the light on your phone before you’ve seen the sun outside each morning, you may need to reconsider your morning routine. This goes for bedtime, too – staying off your phone at least an hour before you go to sleep can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

  • Adopt healthy habits.
  • How do you handle challenging times? Coping with stresses that can come along with different seasons of life can be overwhelming at times – but if you can find healthy ways to deal with those times, you will find that the daily stresses are more manageable. Adopting healthy habits like exercising regularly, eating healthy and practicing relaxation techniques to help you take care of your mental health are great ways to keep your mind and body balanced. You can also try reading daily or learning a new skill like gardening, bird watching or practicing a new language – these things keep your mind fresh and engaged. And don’t underestimate the benefits of spending time with loved ones. There’s nothing quite like being around people who make you happy.

  • Planning and preparation.
  • Incorporating a Sunday planning session before the week begins can eliminate unknowns and set you on a path to a less stressful week. Calendars, checklists, apps and more can really get you organized and keep you on track for what needs to happen each day. You can use a tool, like mind mapping or a vision board, to make your planning more enjoyable and more visual pleasing. The creative process of planning helps you to be successful in the execution of those plans. Don’t forget to include some fun things to look forward to and special family or friend days throughout your planning!

  • Take time for self-care.
  • Anyone can benefit from doing a few “self-care” practices throughout the day and/or week. What do you love to do? Incorporating those things can improve your mood and your stress levels. If you love music, take a few minutes to tune into NPR’s Tiny Desk series, or make plans to attend your favorite band’s upcoming concert. If you love to go to the beach, make a weekly plan to spend an hour on the sand after work. Whether it’s taking time to tend to your garden, listen to your favorite podcast, make a special meal, ride your new bike, or dig into that book you’ve been wanting to read, self-care is self love.

There are so many ways to prioritize your mental health in all seasons of life. While you may not always take the time to incorporate each of these ideas into your daily routines, it’s important to find what works for your lifestyle and continue to pay attention to how you’re feeling and how you’re coping at different points in your life. When are you at your happiest and most balanced-feeling? Focusing on your mental health is always a good idea.

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5 Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health