Juggling between work and play is already a challenge in itself. But add two newborns, a pandemic, and multiple lockdowns, and there goes our mental health out the window.
We’ve realized how important it is for us to make space and prioritize our mental health and our wellbeing throughout the day. Whether it is at work or at home, making time to get grounded and calm our busy minds is what is keeping us sane these days.
Have you heard of the ZEN saying:
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day.
Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
We, too, often think we don’t have the time to take a break and recenter. We just want to keep pushing forward, squeeze one more task into the day. But not having the time has actually become one of our red flags! And those moments are when we force ourselves to REALLY do it because we know we REALLY need it!
To stay sane, to stay healthy, to stay centered…or at least that’s the goal. Sometimes it just gives us the little break we need to temporarily get out of the brain fog and figure out what’s next.
We notice that when we do take time out consistently, we find ourselves able to be more productive at work, make better decisions, feel better in our bodies, and go back home to our families feeling more aligned and energized as well.
It really does help.
We learned that it’s not about having or not having the time. It’s about TAKING the time. Don’t wait until you have an empty space in your calendar. Instead, schedule moments for yourself ahead of time and then actually commit to them. If you do it regularly, you may see things shift around to adjust to it.
So are you ready to welcome more peace, calm, gratitude, and focus into your day?
Here are our favorite mental health tips!
Some of these techniques can be done throughout your workday or at home. Pick what you need when you need it.
We block out daily meditation sessions in our work calendar. They can vary in time. Whether it’s 20 minutes or 3 minutes that you can dedicate to it. Yep! You don’t need to sit cross-legged for a full hour to notice a difference. Taking those extra minutes for ourselves makes such a big impact!
TIP: Check out the Headspace app for lots of guided meditation that can help you get into the practice. They have meditation series and on-offs for every situation.
As an example, SOS in Headspace is a great feature to take that 3-5 minute break if we find ourselves overwhelmed.
PS: Still don’t think you have that extra time in your day? Check on your phone how much time you spent on social media today… What if 5 of those minutes were spent meditating instead, wouldn’t you feel better?
2. Get Outside
Whether it is during your workday at lunch or in between meetings, before or after your day starts, or on the weekends, spending time in nature, getting some fresh air, and changing environments is a great way to heal and re-energize your body and mind!
Here are a few examples of how you can spend more time outdoors:
- Go for a daily walk/run – explore new neighborhoods, streets, and gardens. You never know what you might discover!
- Hiking in the backwoods. If you are in Vancouver, WA area check out Gifford Pinchot forest. It’s our favorite!
- Gardening – there’s nothing quite like sticking your hands in the cool soil or methodically weeding away your frustration. It’s both cathartic and satisfying to see the progress!
TIP: Set a reminder on your phone to take 5 deep breaths on the patio or by the window every couple of hours. Give your brain a break and get some fresh air!
3. Move Your Body
Mental health is very much linked to our bodies. We have a lot of emotions that get stored up in our physical bodies. So let’s move ‘em!
We understand the feeling of not wanting to work out. But let’s admit it, no one ever says “man, I regret that workout” after getting their sweat on. That’s because nothing beats the glowing, peaceful, amazing emotions that come AFTER we’ve worked out! Right?
But since working out can be daunting, here is how we keep ourselves accountable:
- Gym buddies: find one person to exercise with for positive peer pressure EVEN (especially!) when you don’t feel like it! We love having accountability partners and they make a huge difference in our workout routine.
- Matching the workout to our energy level: our bodies go through phases and it’s just a fact that we don’t have the same energy level every day! Paying attention to how we feel and how much energy we have is important, and it helps us have a better workout experience. What is calling you today? Is it kickboxing, barre, dance, workouts with weights, pilates… the list is long!
- A quick yoga practice before bed or first thing in the morning has been a really precious moment for us! It helps us to release the tension of the day and be present.
Sleep is such an important factor in our mental health and affects how we feel throughout the day so much.
How is your quality of sleep? Be honest! Do you wake up feeling constantly tired? We’ve done our best to implement these 4 tips into our routine and it has helped us improve our sleep:
- Set an alarm for when you need to start heading to bed: this will make you stop what you’re doing and create time to read before going to sleep.
- Put on Sleepcasts in Headspace: they are 45-minute audio stories to help you go to bed. We challenge you to actually hear the entire story. We’ve never actually made it more than 10 minutes into the story…
- Listen to Headspace Wind downs: these are quick breathing and visualization exercises to help you relax before bed.
- Turn on a sound machine and hang blackout curtains: give it a try! We ourselves became fans after having babies sleeping in bassinets next to our beds.
Journaling your feelings, gratitude, doubts, fears, questions is a very powerful healing and releasing technique. Here are a few tips that have been helpful for us:
- Print off the Feelings wheel – find the name and acknowledge the feelings you’re feeling, and make note of them without judgment
- Start by asking yourself: “what do I need?” to move forward – especially when feeling stuck in a situation
- Make affirmations or lists of things in your life that you’re grateful for (the smallest and biggest things included)
6. Healthy Eating
What we put in our bodies daily is so important and has a huge impact on how we feel. When we find ourselves feeling uninspired to cook and getting takeout more often than we want to admit, we go back to these ideas:
- Meal planning: helps us feel less overwhelmed throughout the week. It makes us eat healthier and it helps us get ready for the days ahead. Bonus if we can integrate fresh veggies from our garden!
- Make our food as colorful as we can by mixing different vegetables and fruits. It’s true that we eat with our eyes, too. And we know that if we have lots of colors on our plates, we’re getting different vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need.
7. Ask For (Or Hire) Help
This can be really hard for some people. But the day you learn to ask for help, your life will change. You don’t have to do it all alone!
Talk to your partner and family about the tasks that need to be done and come up with a plan and routines so everything doesn’t fall on you.
Outsource what you can. Our housecleaners, instacart grocery shopping, Amazon one-click, and daycare (and doggy daycare!) give us time back so we can be present at work and at home.
Hire a business/life coach to talk through things with someone who has an outsider’s perspective and who can inspire you to think differently for what’s next.
8. Digital Detox
We don’t consider ourselves constantly connected, but we do have our phones with us all the time for calendaring, dual authentication, and of course Amazon orders.
Even without being on social media, the constant buzzing from our phones is distracting. So we set our phones on do-not-disturb OFTEN – it can be nice not to be reachable sometimes. The trick we’ve learned, though, is that you have to remember to turn off the do-not-disturb when you’re ready to reconnect.
9. Social Life
As social beings, making time to interact with friends is so important. But with a busy work schedule and now kids, our social life can quickly feel abandoned. That’s why we make it a point to keep social things on the calendar and make time for them. Sometimes a good laugh-till-you-cry session is in order.
We like to spend our time and energy with people who fill us (and our wine glass) up.
10. Get Inspired
Do you feel inspired daily? By your work? Your personal life? Feeling inspired helps you have a better outlook on things and stay sane, especially in tough times.
- Set goals for yourself – professional goals, yes, but more than that too. For example: commit to going to see a movie in a historic theater before the end of the year, or go to a farm to pick cherries before the season is over. Schedule them on your calendar! These are things to look forward to and to get us out of our routine for just a bit
- Listen to podcasts with interesting life stories. Our favorite podcasts include This American Life for quirky tales and Dirtbag Diaries for outdoor adventures (specific favorite Dirtbag Diary episode is Hit Pause)
As you can see, taking care of your mental health comes in all forms and shapes.
We hope you use this post as a reminder to just take a break – whatever that looks like for you. We can’t all go on a sabbatical today, but we can take time out of our daily routines for self care.
Don’t feel like you have to implement them all at once. Start with one or two and see how it feels. Then when it starts becoming a habit, include one or two more.
Do you have other mental health tips for us? Let us know!
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