Daily habits to help ease your mind
by Harry • 8 minutes read
Last updated: 22 Jun, 2022
In today's bustling, busy world, it's easy to get caught up with work and all of our responsibilities - focusing on everything except our own happiness. We all tend to experience some level of stress and anxiety day-to-day, but there are plenty of great habits to add to your routine that will help lift some weight from your shoulders.
Many of us will just accept the stress in our lives and do nothing to improve our mental health, but with time this will only build up, which can leave us feeling anxious and depressed.
When it comes to easing our mind from all of this, habits matter. If you've ever tried to break a bad habit, you'll know just how difficult it is to change something so engrained. But just like snacking or cigarettes, good habits have just as much impact.
Practicing healthy, helpful habits every day can help to create an overall sense of peace and calm in our lives. If you can get into a routine that includes some of these top tips, you should notice yourself feeling lighter, with your mind more at ease.
Exercise doesn't just benefit your body. It's also great for your mind as well.
Regular exercise can help alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and symptoms of depression while boosting self-esteem and happiness. It provides a time for you to relieve your mind of worries and take focus away from any weight on your shoulders.
Now you don't have to run a marathon, but a small amount of physical activity should help lift your spirits, whether it's a session in the gym or simply going for a walk after work. If you're pressed for time during the day, you can do a whole lot of good with just a 20 minute high intensity workout. Check out our recommended HIIT sessions from 5-45 minutes.
If you have no time at all outside work hours, here are some subtle exercises and stretches you can do at work too. Even if your workplace doesn't fit any of these, you can always start your day off by waking up 5 minutes earlier than usual and trying a few yoga poses.
Prioritising a good night's sleep is vital to your mental health.
Adults are recommended about 7-9 hours of sleep every night, but what is just as important is your sleep cycle. Your mind and body will appreciate consistency in sleeping and waking times each day, even at the weekends.
Here are some ways to improve your sleep structure and quality:
Start documenting how you feel after you wake up, along with how long your sleep was. After a week you should realise how sleep affects your mind.
Dedicate at least an hour before you sleep to relaxing and winding down. This could include, taking a bath, reading or simply escaping the TV or phone screens.
Avoid heavy eating or drinking, especially caffeine, close to sleeping.
Try to keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
If you intend to nap during the day, try to limit this to 20 minutes or you could disrupt your sleep cycle.
If you successfully practice all of these habits, you should start to feel much better during the day with a night of healthy sleep.
The food you eat obviously affects your body and your physical health, but it can also affect your state of mind. Besides this, a lack of food in your day will not only leave you feeling physically lethargic but also mentally drained.
Different foods will have different effects on your mood. For example:
Carbohydrates release serotonin, but too much of anything can be bad. Consuming a lot of foods high in sugar and starch could just cause a brief energy surge, with you soon to crash - which will only worsen your mood. Carbs in vegetables, beans, and grains are much better.
Protein sources like lean meat, legumes and dairy can release dopamine and norepinephrine which boost energy and concentration levels.
Highly processed foods will usually leave you feeling down, with high amounts of saturated and trans fats.
Check out our full article on how food affects mood.
Jotting down your thoughts each day can help you recognise, organise and analyse your feelings, making it much easier to combat negative emotions and lend more time to things that bring positivity.
This can be as simple or in depth as you like. You can simply note down a few things about how you felt that day or instead you can delve more deeply into a specific situation and how it affected your mood.
A journal is a great place to express things you may be too nervous or uncomfortable to share with others. It's a safe place for you, and you alone, to reflect on your mood. Trying to do this once a day will likely provide some great self-awareness on how different people and situations make you feel.
Planning is just as important as reflection. Although journaling can be a great way to reflect on the day's events and how they made you feel, planning the day or week can add even more value to this.
Feel like your life is all over the place and it's stressing you out? Try easing your anxiety by creating some structure and even set simple goals for the week. There are a few ways this can boost your mood:
Planning the events of the week will calm your nerves for anything that's about to come, by preparing your mind for the day ahead. This can extend to planning your work, social life and even meals.
Reaching targets you set yourself will boost your confidence and make you feel proud of what you've done - which will only put a smile on your face. If you do try our daily exercise goal - maybe write a checklist of exercises for the week and tick them off as you go.
Reflecting on the week and being able to see the things you've done more clearly is great. Now, put this alongside your journal and you'll be able to see very clearly how your mood is affected by the day's events.
This may be a tough one to do every single day, as we all love a night in with some time to ourselves, but this can even mean making friends at work.
Friends and family are a great support system. Whether you're talking through your issues or simply catching up, seeing loved ones should always lift your mood.
If your circle is small, try signing up to a volunteer group or perhaps take a class in something you've always wanted to learn. Both options should help you connect to people in your area with similar interests.
Sick of humans? Companionship doesn't have to be limited to other people and studies show that pets can offer many similar benefits. You could even bring volunteering and animals together and try helping your community at a local animal shelter.
According to a 2016 study, spending just 30 minutes a week in green spaces can help lower symptoms of depression and even lower blood pressure. So, unplug and get out in nature! Although the study cited recommends weekly outings, getting fresh air every day will only have positive effects.
More importantly, much of technology will only affect your mood negatively. Whether it's Instagram causing body dysmorphia by warping our standards of beauty or hours of TV leading to a sedentary lifestyle, screens aren't always good. I know we all love a good Netflix series binge, but try to limit your daily exposure to screens and spend time with a good book in the park instead. The likelihood is most of us spend our workdays looking at a computer anyway - so try to combat this by getting outside.
Here's a challenge for those of you who can handle it - try leaving your phone at home and going for a walk once a week - your mind should start to feel much less cloudy without all the weight social media brings.
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