5 Easy Mental Health Habits to Stop Stress Before It Starts
The truth is, stress and adverse experiences are not only in the past. We’re bound to experience challenges big and small for a lifetime. If we do not equip ourselves with the mental fortitude necessary to handle those stressors effectively, our mental health will suffer.
By taking preventative steps to protect and fortify our mental health, we’ll enable ourselves to flow gracefully through the ebbs and flows of life that may have otherwise broken us.
Read on to learn five easy mental health habits to stop stress before it starts so that you can prevent the adverse effects of stress on your mind, body, relationships, and overall well-being.
5 Easy Mental Health Habits
#1: Daily Journaling
Daily journaling does wonders for one’s mental health.
Sometimes, our inner dialogue can be quite loud and unproductive – especially when we’re being critical and judgemental of ourselves. The trick isn’t to suppress or ignore this part of ourselves, because that would be a losing battle. Instead, journaling can help to give a voice and outlet to these thoughts so you can work through them by getting them out of your mind and onto paper.
When you’re journaling, start by simply writing down your stream-of-conscious thoughts without judgment or shame. Don’t worry about how it looks or sounds. You can always throw it away later! Get out all the chatter, the doubts, the worries, and maybe even the running to-do list that’s always on your mind. Do this for 15-minutes or so.
Notice if your mind is quieter after a journaling session. Do you feel more relaxed and at peace? Try to journal first thing in the morning to enjoy a stress-free day, or right before bed to ease racing thoughts as you try to fall asleep.
#2: Daily Meditation
Research shows that people who meditate experience less stress than those who don’t. Try meditating for a few minutes a day, then lengthen that time as you see fit. Focus on your breathing and be gentle with yourself as your mind naturally wanders. Gently bring yourself back to centered calmness each time you drift, and you’ll notice that, over time, it gets easier and easier to sit in that quiet place for longer.
Meditation takes many forms. Explore the different types of meditation and focus your efforts on the meditation styles that call to you most. While you can always meditate when you feel stressed, make it a daily practice to stop stress before it starts.
#3: Daily Exercise
Regular exercise has countless benefits. When it comes to your mental health, it can increase self-confidence, improve your mood, help you relax, and lower symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. It can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety, causing a vicious cycle that leads to more stress and thus, less sleep.
First and foremost, find a form of exercise that you enjoy. This is the secret to staying consistent. Then, plug your exercise time into your calendar, just as you would a client meeting, doctor appointment, or other important commitment. If you struggle to hold yourself accountable, ask a friend, family member, trainer, or coach to help.
Then, set a goal for the year! Would you love to walk/jog in a local 5k fun run? Touch your toes? Jump rope for 5 minutes? Join a pick-up league in the neighborhood? Lose a few pounds? Gain some muscle? When you have an exciting goal, it’s easier to stay committed to your daily exercise and see the benefits of it to your mental health.
#4: Healthy Relationships
Knowing you’ve got quality people in your corner is important. When the going gets tough, healthy relationships help get you through to the other side, and it feels good to be that for others as well. In contrast, unhealthy relationships can add a lot of stress to our lives.
Take an inventory of all the healthy relationships in your life. Who’s “Got your back?” and knows that you’ve got theirs?
Relationships require care and attention. Make the effort to reach out to that friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and schedule quality time with family members. Be there for others and don’t be afraid to be open and vulnerable with others so they can be there for you.
If you struggle to come up with even a small list of healthy relationships you currently have, get out there! Find groups who share similar interests, or double-down on your efforts to reconnect with people you’ve had relationships with in the past. Learn how to be a the best version of you and a good friend so you can attract the healthy relationships you want.
#5: Quality Sleep
People often don’t prioritize sleep enough. But sleep is sacred, and it is absolutely necessary if you want to stop stress before it starts. If you haven’t gotten enough sleep, you’re at a disadvantage when stressors come your way because your hormones and mood are already dysregulated. Your capacity to handle stress is lowered, so even the smallest thing can make you tick.
Get quality sleep, which means going to bed at a decent hour, getting 8 hours of sleep, and having a bedtime ritual that enables you to sleep deeper, longer
- Try having a bedtime ritual that includes:
- No electronics for an hour before bed
- Hot, non-caffeinated tea
- Journaling or meditation
- Dimmed lights and a relaxing atmosphere an hour before bed
By taking these steps, you can stop stress before it starts and strengthen your mental health so you’re better equipped for whatever comes your way. To learn more clinically proven mental health and stress management strategies, reach out!