One of the biggest health lessons I learned in my twenties is that mental health requires a lot of upkeep and maintenance. Thinking about it now, it seems completely obvious, yet so many people neglect their mental health routine — I was among that set of people.
You don’t brush your teeth once a year and expect excellent dental health. You don’t shower once a month and feel clean and healthy. You don’t get the flu shot in 2002 and expect to be immune every single year. You don’t go to the gym one time in your life and expect to have a six pack forever.
Like our general hygiene and physical upkeep, mental hygiene is incredibly important, and takes consistent effort. Here are some of my consistent habits that make up my own mental health routine.
Sure, not everyone needs a personal trainer, but anyone who’s ever had a personal trainer can attest to how much better their workouts are and how much healthier their bodies are when they’ve hired and worked with a PT.
Given that psychotherapy is exponentially more nuanced and difficult to self-modify, you could argue that seeing a therapist is even more important — and honestly, for everyone.
We are all always facing transitions and stressors at any given point in our lives, as well as learning new things about ourselves. With therapy, you’ll better navigate those things, as well as unearth past traumas and major events you maybe haven’t processed. All of this leads to a happier, healthier you.
Reading mental health and self improvement books has become a cornerstone of my mental health routine. In the course that is life, the therapist is the professor and the self development books are the texts for the curriculum.
If you think you don’t like this style of nonfiction, I challenge you to try new authors. There is such a spectrum within this genre of literature, and I really do feel like there’s something for everyone. From Gabrielle Bernstein to Brené Brown to Charles Duhigg, you’re bound to find an author, a voice, and a message that resonates with you. I made it my resolution in 2019 to read at least 12 of these books, and ended up reading closer to 20 because I was on such a roll.
Feeding my mind with “brain foods” has been another important part of my emotional wellness. Foods high in omega-3s (like salmon and chia seeds), CBD, and lots of tea have made for a balanced, nourishing diet that helps me feel my best. CBD Tinctures with MCT Oil are a double dose of omega-3 goodness. I encourage you to find foods that are anti-stress and anti-anxiety (for instance, magnesium is known to improve these conditions and can be found in dark chocolate and bananas!).
And as for CBD, I’ll be honest; I usually don’t mess around with supplements. I eat a balanced diet and don’t like taking vitamins or anything additional to my food. But when it comes to CBD, that’s not something I’m getting in my diet naturally. And, it’s the only supplement I’ve ever tried that has given me such a potent, powerful, and instantly-experienced effect. This, this has become part of my brain food diet and my mental health routine.
Getting fresh air and sun every day — first thing in the morning — was originally recommended to me by my therapist, and has since become a must for my mental health and my mood. Studies have shown that getting outside clinically improves mental wellbeing, alleviates depression, and contributes to a healthier overall body. Try walking your dog, going to a local park, taking a stroll on your lunch, or parking further away than you usually would from your destinations to ensure you get more outside time. It does a body — and brain — good.
Is there anything more important than sleep? Why do we always deprioritize this? A fabulous psychologist friend Dr. Kevin Gilliland once explained it to me like charging an iPhone. We’d never expect our iPhones to keep functioning if we didn’t plug it in — or plugged it in for very short periods of time. Why would we think we can survive with consistently short and low-quality sleep?
Sleep is now one of my nonnegotiables; I ensure that I get at least seven to eight hours, if not nine. I know how much my body needs, I feel no shame around it (because undersleeping and overworking is glorified in our culture right now!), and I make it an absolute priority. My mental health routine and my mood is all the better ford it. Need some extra help? Check out some of these CBD Gummies with Melatonin for added zzz.