When you consider everything you’ve already got going on in your life, it’s probably overwhelming to consider adding just one new routine to your morning. But if you’re dealing with mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, or stress, adding just a few minutes of dedicated self-care to your day can work wonders. By doing this, you’ll increase your ability to be resilient and handle the challenging situations that come your way, big and small.
In this post, you’ll learn ten easy mental health routines that take five minutes. I encourage you to add your favorite to your morning routine. That means setting your alarm just five minutes earlier than normal! Totally doable, right?
#1: Belly breathing.
This one is simple: breathe in and breathe out slowly, focusing on filling and emptying your belly. Close your eyes and follow the rise and fall of the breath, and listen to the wooshing sound of it. Once your mind has quieted, you can lengthen the breath, counting down on the inhale, holding, and exhaling. After five minutes, check in with yourself. How do you feel?
#2: Do a body scan.
Our bodies hold so much tension and stress without us even realizing it. First, close your eyes and sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Take a few deep belly breaths. Then focus your attention on different parts of your body, consciously relaxing them as you go. Start with your toes and finish with the tippy-top of your head, paying particular attention to commonly tense areas like the shoulders, back, jaw, and forehead. After five minutes, notice how your body feels as compared to when you started.
#3: Say your name.
Do the belly breathing from technique number one. But this time, say your name on the exhale, either out loud or in your head. Then, incorporate kind words to share with yourself on the inhale, like “I love” or “Thank you.” This may feel awkward at first, but it’s an incredible way to feel empowered for the day ahead by showing yourself some gratitude.
#4: Nature appreciation.
In today’s world, it’s easy to get caught up in things and forget how relaxing it is to slow down and get in nature, even if just for a little bit. Set aside the computer and phone for five minutes, get out of the fluorescent lights, kick off your shoes, and go outside to bask in the sun with your feet on bare ground. Don’t you feel re-energized afterward?
#5: Look at the sky.
This practice is excellent for gaining perspective. When we’re in the nitty gritty at work or home, especially when we’re feeling triggered or stressed, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and consumed by it all. Take a few minutes to go outside and look at the sky to remember how big this world is. Doing this helps make our problems seem much smaller, helping the stress melt away.
#6: Visualization practice.
Piles of paperwork, challenging in-laws, bills…sometimes don’t you wish they could all just float away? Well, that may not be realistic, but you can visualize it to get some relief—and perhaps even crack a smile! Visualize packing the basket of a hot air balloon with all your worries and then waving goodbye as it floats up and above the clouds. With less stress, more relaxation, and a tinge of humor daily, you’ll be better equipped to tackle life’s challenges as they arise without buckling under the pressure.
Journaling is great for expressing emotions and frustrations without hurting anyone. So, for five minutes, let it all out on paper. Don’t worry about grammar or how it sounds; just let it easily flow from mind to paper. Once you feel complete, throw it away, burn it, or keep it in a safe place to reflect on later. Notice how you feel afterward. Are you experiencing less mental chatter, self-judgment, and stress?
Affirmations support a positive mental attitude and empower you to create the reality you want to live. You uniquely create them for your specific mental health needs. Write down a few and speak them aloud. Take five minutes doing this. Some examples of affirmations include:
I am free from stress.
I am letting go of all my worries.
I forgive myself and set myself free.
All I need is within me right now.
Meditation is a great way to get grounded and start the day from a place of peaceful power. It can also take on many forms. For some, meditation looks like being seated cross-legged with eyes closed. Others prefer movement-led meditations, like walking the beach without a phone or gardening. You can also follow guided meditation audio. Try different mediation styles and see what works best for you. There are no wrong answers and no wrong way to meditate. If you feel like it quiets your mind, relaxes your body, and connects you more deeply with yourself, you’re doing it right!
#10: Gratitude practice.
Can you feel grateful and stressed at the same time? I don’t think so! Make a list of all the things you’re thankful for on paper or in your mind as you sit comfortably for five minutes. What and who are you grateful for? Why? How about the little things, like clean water, a warm bed, and a pantry with food? If you have just those three things, you’re already in the minority of the world’s population. Do you realize that you have so much to be grateful for, perhaps more than you initially thought?
Now that you have ten options for easy mental health routines to add to your day pick one (or three!). Mark your calendar, set your alarm, and go! Let us know how it goes, and reach out if you’re ready to go deeper with personalized solutions. We’re happy to help!