There is something about Spring that brings out the worst in my mental health. For many, it’s because of allergies that leave you with a foggy head. Just the other day CNN posted an article about the relationship between allergies and depression. However, for me, it’s the sight of seeing everything around me grow that leaves me feeling like I’m the only one who isn’t progressing.
Now that I have seen the first blooms of the year, I began my annual existential crisis last week, questioning every life decision I’ve ever made. It starts with something small like what to have for dinner and before you know it, you have torn apart your work life, your dating life (or lack thereof), your personal growth, and bringing it back full circle to your diet and how you should be eating healthier. By the end, you not only feel exhausted, but you also feel beaten down.
Sometimes you need to wallow in your self pity for a little bit to reignite the fire under your butt for change. On the other hand, more often than not, you don’t need to stay in that mental rut. You have to find ways to amp up your confidence so you can start digging yourself out. But when you’re already down in that hole, you might not have a lot of energy for fighting. We are looking for small actions that can have big results.
I am not a mental health professional. These are just a few things that help me get out of that space. They don’t “cure” me, but they help me take care of myself and provide me a little boost of energy, so I can begin to shift my mood and tackle the root of the problem with a clearer head. I am my own toughest critic and when I’m in a bad mood I am even harsher. By taking steps to improve my attitude, I can then look at my life free of judgement and make a plan of action to reach my goals instead of continuing the never ending questioning.
So, here’s what I do:
Make your favorite cup of tea or coffee.
Because I’ve been trying to drink my new collagen consistently, I’ve been making myself a lot of tea lately. Even when done daily, the whole ritual of boiling water, choosing a tea bag, and waiting for it to steep, feels like a treat. While you make your beverage, don’t go on your phone and allow those 5 minutes of preparation to be all about doing something for yourself.
Acknowledge what you have already accomplished, are currently working on, and what you love about yourself.
When we get caught up in what we haven’t done or don’t have, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. Get out a piece of paper and start with a list of everything that you have achieved and acknowledge what isn’t finished yet, but you have already started. Mine might look like:
- I successfully made the transition to teaching yoga full time.
- I completed a 300 hour training.
- I have written half of my word goal for my book.
- I launched my web shop with plans for continued growth.
After that, make another list of what you love about yourself, or take it a step further and stand in front of a mirror and say it out loud. Cover all parts of yourself – mind, body, and spirit. For example:
- I love that I am a creative person and use that skill daily.
- I love that my body is capable of healing itself.
- I love how at home I feel in my new haircut.
- I love that I am open and patient enough to listen.
Don’t worry about the length of your list. Even if you can only think of one thing, repeat it over and over. As you continue, other thoughts might pop into your head and you can add those to the list as they come.
Put on some tunes and dance.
Find or create a playlist with your favorite bands and songs you know all the words to. Hit play, turn the speakers up, and dance your heart out. Take up as much space as you can, moving from one side of the room to the other. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re the worst dancer. Let the music speak to you and respond with your body. Over the weekend I posted a photo to my Instagram of doing just that and it felt great. Let the endorphins flow!
Hopefully you’re doing this on a regular basis, but I’m always amazed by how much a shower can change the way I feel. I think it’s a combination of the weight of the water hitting my skin, the smells of the products, and stepping away from all of the distractions of life. Whatever it is, showers can be healing. Don’t skimp on the after-shower rituals either. Go through your full skincare regimen, moisturize your face and body, and if you like to style your hair, take the extra time and go for it. I find when I put in a little effort into my appearance because I want to, I feel more confident even if I’m the only one who sees my good hair day.
Have a real conversation with friends or family.
Texting is great, but pick up the phone, FaceTime, or schedule a time to meet up with someone who loves and supports you. My best friend, Jessie, lives in Australia and while we email/Facebook message/Snapchat constantly, there is nothing that compares to one of our phone calls. She always knows exactly what to say, reassures me that I’m doing okay, and has the best stories that get me laughing. Whether you decide to share what’s on your mind or not, connecting with someone else is a great reminder that you are not alone in this world.
Schedule a therapy appointment.
We do what we can for ourselves, but sometimes it’s not enough. It takes a lot of strength and courage to recognize when we need a little extra assistance, so don’t feel like it makes you “weak.” This year I’m going to therapy once a month and I was grateful my session happened to be scheduled the day after my negative feelings started. It’s lovely hearing that you’re doing fine from people you know, but it’s even more encouraging and comforting when it comes from a trained professional with an unbiased opinion. And don’t let thoughts like, “My problem isn’t big enough for therapy,” to stop you from going. I truly believe therapy is beneficial for everyone.
These activities range from 5 minutes to just under an hour. They don’t require a lot of effort, but can have big impacts on your mood and mental health. Whether you’re having a full blown existential crisis, are going through a breakup, or just having a off day, I hope these small things can help you amp up your confidence. You are doing great. This feeling is only temporary and eventually it will pass. Take care of yourself and support your mind, body, and soul while it goes through this journey.