Millions of people struggle with mental health problems, especially during the pandemic. The threat of catching deadly coronavirus has heightened people’s isolation tendencies. Those who are battling depression and anxiety can no longer do the usual remedies like meeting with your support group and volunteering in charitable activities.
People must learn to value their mental health now more than ever. Here are five simple, morning habits that help you keep your mental health in check.
The purpose of meditation is to clear your mind and focus on yourself and the present. Negative thoughts, ruminations about past mistakes, worries about the future, worries about what other people think — these are mental clutter that can pull a person into depression. It’s not that you should never worry or care about other people’s opinions, only that you need to give such thoughts a healthy amount of attention.
One thing about meditation that makes it helpful for preserving mental health is it promotes self-awareness and mindfulness. You pay attention to yourself, your body, and your mind. Instead of focusing on worrisome thoughts, for example, you turn the focus on something more tangible and real, like your breathing: how it flows from your nose, expands your lungs, and leaves your body. It’s cathartic, and with practice, it can cleanse your mind of thoughts that trigger your anxiety.
Starting the day on a high note can influence how the remaining 12 or so hours will go. One of the best ways to “start the day right” is to have a satisfying and nutritious breakfast.
This isn’t just about being full and avoiding feeling grumpy because of hunger. Food is a factor for mental health: what you eat can affect your mood and influence your feelings, not just for the day but until the next.
Mediterranean and Japanese diets are best for maintaining good mental health. They consist mainly of fruits, vegetables, seafood, and unprocessed grains. In contrast, Western diets have an abundance of processed food and refined sugars. Scientists say that people who follow a Mediterranean or Japanese diet are 25-35% less likely to fall into depression compared to those who have a mostly Western diet.
Your mental health is worth the few minutes it’ll take to prepare a nutritious breakfast every morning. Make this a habit, and your mornings will be a lot better.
As you eat your breakfast, you can do something productive like reading insightful articles about interesting topics. It helps to be aware of the world and the many good things that happen every day. It gives you something positive to look forward to and feel excited about.
Reading opens your eyes to different cultures and stories. In the process, you often discover something about yourself that can help you become a better individual. It’s a profound process and one that can help you become simultaneously more aware of yourself and the world around you. Expanding your world by reading is, therefore, the simplest but one of the most effective ways of upgrading life and improving your mental health.
Some would argue that reading, especially the news, could expose a person to content that can trigger anxiety and depression. Yes, this is true; but it bears mentioning that in this digital age, we now have the ability to control the content we see. You can filter out triggering content and focus instead on inspiring and read-worthy material online and in print.
Walk Your Pet / Water Your Plants
Pets bring so much joy to people. They sometimes test your patience and demand a sizable share of your attention and monthly budget. All of that, however, is worth the unconditional love and laughter that pets can bring into your life. Their company can help ease your loneliness, give you something to laugh at, offer comfort when you feel down, and reduce your stress and anxiety. So if you already have a pet, spend a few precious minutes each morning playing or cuddling with them. It will be a balm to your soul like nothing else.
If you don’t have a pet, you can try your hand at gardening instead. Growing plants is just as difficult as raising a pet: you also have to dedicate time, effort, and resources to make them flourish. The work that goes into growing indoor plants, however, can be cathartic. By simply watering plants in the morning, you can have a calm and quiet moment to yourself.
Plan Your Day
Unwelcome surprises and poorly planned activities can become a source of stress. You can reduce the likelihood of encountering such things by planning your activities for the day. It doesn’t have to be very detailed to the point that every minute is accounted for. At the very least, plan the things you need to accomplish for the day and how you’re going to do it.
Do these five activities every morning until they become second nature to you. If you succeed, it will become easier to be in control of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Watch after your mental health so that you can fully enjoy your life and get through the pandemic.