7 Tips to Prioritize Your Mental Health

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In the past four years, I have gone through three post-graduate programs, volunteered, worked both full and part time jobs, and I still feel like I should be doing more. I recently completed my Master’s and once I was done, it felt strange to suddenly be left with so much free time on my hands. If I decided to watch a movie or hang out with my friends, there was always the thought that something needed to be done looming in the back of my mind. But, I was genuinely free.

It took me some time to realize that I had become slightly addicted to the feeling of being busy. Even when I went on vacation earlier this year, I still managed to take my school work with me, because I couldn’t leave my world behind and simply escape. As a registered nurse, I often speak about the importance of self-care, but I will admit that I rarely practice what I preach.

Living in a busy world, it is easy to forget that you need to look after yourself. We are always looking for the next job, business or volunteer opportunity, but when you’re a 24 hour woman, when is it time to take a break? Mental wellness is often ignored and not prioritized. But if you don’t take care of your mental health, you’re bound to crash and burn at some point.

Below are some helpful tips to promote mental wellness for the 24 hour woman:

1.SLOW DOWN AND TAKE IT ALL IN

Reflect on how far you’ve come. We often get lost in the process when we’re in the middle of things. Acknowledge the progress you’ve made even if you haven’t reached your goals yet. When you take pauses to look back and see how much you’ve grown, you tend to appreciate your process more. We always remember the beginning and the end of something, but it is important to also remember and appreciate the middle because that’s where growth happens.

2.START YOUR DAY RIGHT

I’m sure you’ve heard the statement, “it’s not always how you start, but how you finish”. Well I’m here to let you know that how you start is very important when it comes to your day. Whether it’s a motivational quote, a prayer or an inspirational song that gets you there, having a positive outlook on your day can make a difference. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have bad days, but it can help you get through them intact.

3.GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD ONCE IN A WHILE

I’m sure we all have conversations with ourselves on where we need to be and what we need to do. At times, constant ruminations about the same thing over again can take a toll on us. This includes overthinking about past mistakes and how to make it in the future. Unfortunately, living in your head can make you miss out on being present in the here and now. Practicing mindfulness is a good tool for getting out of your head once in a while. Take a few minutes in your day to be aware of where you are, what you’re doing at a particular time and acknowledge your presence. Overthinking can cause anxious thoughts that drain you of your time and energy. So learn to be present and live in the moment.

4.RELAX AND LET GO OF GUILT

There are times when we need to take a break, but we can’t allow ourselves to relax because of the guilt. There will always be something to do, but this shouldn’t stop you from stepping back and treating yourself. It really is ok to not be busy at times. Do yourself a favour and take a bubble bath, watch a cheesy movie, go for a walk, read a book; anything that takes you out of work mode. Treat yourself. You deserve it.

5.BUILD A COMMUNITY

Find a community of like minded people who you can share your goals, fears, and accomplishments with. You can lift each other up and encourage one another through the highs and lows of life. As humans, we are relational beings and we are not meant to do life alone. We should all have a group of people that stand behind you and support and love you for who you are.

6.EXERCISE

Taking time out of your day to strengthen yourself physically creates a ripple effect. When you exercise, endorphins are released which triggers a pleasurable feeling in your body and mind. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and boost one’s self esteem. Now I’m not saying run a marathon, but you can start off with low impact exercises such as yoga, swimming or even housework.

7.NEVER COMPARE

This is something most of us are guilty of. We often see others who we think are farther along in their personal or professional lives compared to us. At times, we may wish to be in their positions. But I promise you, everyone has their own unique race to run. Trying to run someone else’s race can lead us to do things that leave us unrecognizable to ourselves. Trust your journey. Trust your process. You will get there.

Remember, you deserve a break, so give yourself one :)

Written by Lola Olawo