Finding Your Zen - Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
As restrictions, ease and life begin to become more "normal" it seems to be the perfect time to reflect on your well-being and others around you. One of the best ways to take part in mental health awareness month is to reach out to a few people to ask how they are doing. It sounds simple but relationships are the key to happiness. 

Why Mindfulness and Self Care are Important
The truth is that it isn't a given that we'll take good care of ourselves. Most, if not all, of us, tend to ignore self-care while trying to make our lives what we think they should be. Here are some reasons that we think its important:

  • It helps us to keep going and avoid suffering from burnout
  • It can prevent us from undergoing health crises like anxiety, heart disease, depression, and stroke
  • We can have healthy relationships with those around us
  • It puts us in the right frame of mind to be there for our loved ones when they need us the most
  • Our self-esteem is so much better when we’re consciously engaging in things that make us feel better about ourselves

How to Find Your Zen
There are countless things to engage in to incorporate mindfulness and self care into your daily routine. Here are some ideas you might want to try out.

Meditation
This is one of my daily go-to practices for mindfulness, and it helps with depression. The first thought that comes to your mind when you think about meditation is probably how complicated the whole thing is, but it really isn’t. All you have to do is find a quiet place, sit comfortably upright, and close your eyes or focus them on one point. You can then slowly breathe in and out and just focus on your breathing by counting the in and out breath. Trust me, you will feel so much better afterwards. For a start, you can try guided meditation. I like to use Sam Harris for my routine. I find it to be a great way to start my morning.

Exercise
Exercise is a biggie for me. It goes a long way in helping me blow off some steam and clear my mind. You don't have to engage in a heavy activity if you are not up to it. There are many simple beginner routines that you can work into your morning, lunch break, or evening. Check out the FitOn app, it offers free class on your phone. They literally have an workout to fit any mood.

Journaling
Writing down our thoughts helps us get negative feelings out of our system. It can be an excellent way to vent if you have no one to talk to. It also helps align our thoughts and even find solutions to things we thought were too complicated. Another self care gem in line with this is gratitude journaling , which involves taking note of the things you are grateful for (even if it’s one). It really can help change your outlook about life. Tim Farris recommended the 5 min journal in one of his podcasts and it looks really cool.

Unplug From The Web
The internet has a way of riling us up if we engage in it too much. If we’re not getting worked up about people on social media being so much better at life than us, we're stressing over the news or brooding over that work email. It is, therefore, beneficial to turn everything off for some time and just be. The world will still be there when we get back.

Take A Nap
It's always a good idea to have enough sleep at night and even make time for a nap during the day. Sometimes we tend to be irritable and unproductive, and we wonder what the problem is, yet all we need is to get some sleep. Sleep is considered the most important aspect of our health.

Mindful Eating
There’s eating healthy (which is great for self care), then there’s mindful eating. To practice mindful eating, get rid of every distraction- no TV or phones. You then pay attention to your food, the smell, taste, texture, and how you feel while eating it. Chew your food well before swallowing it, and stop eating when you start to feel full. Susan Salzburg does some great lessons on how to practice mindful eating.

Ask For Help
It is okay to admit you can’t do something and ask for help. You will save yourself so much stress by doing that. Seriously the best money I have ever spent has been on therapy. Why not get some trained advice. Your friends only know so much. There is also a great resources at Mental Health America. They focus on mental health not mental illness.

Take Up A Hobby
Make time to do something you love. You can listen to music, bake something, watch a movie, read a novel, water your plants. Whatever it is, do it without apology.

Final Thoughts
It is essential to remember that self care and mindfulness are different for everyone. Find out what you need and do that. While at it, draw a line between caring for yourself and engaging in harmful habits like overspending.

We also have to constantly remind ourselves to be flexible with the routines we choose to engage in. If you can’t do it today, try again tomorrow. Whatever happens, be nice to yourself and don't forget to smile.