If you’ve seen my It’s Okay to Not Be Okay video from a month ago, you will know I was going through a rough patch. I let my anti-social ways get the better of me and I ended up feeling very lonely. But things got better after that. Many people reached out to me, which was touching enough, but then I actually went out, saw friends again, and did some pretty cool things. And then today I truly realized how much happier I am.
My life hasn’t drastically changed over this past month, but one major thing I started to do was switch my main focus from my physical health to my mental health. Physical health is of course very important, (hey, I do teach yoga for a living) but sometimes I get too caught up in it that my mental health suffers. As someone who has had disordered thoughts in the past regarding my body, I try to be careful and keep that in check (you can read more about that in this post). So, it was time to change tactics. My mind needed my attention.
Was I instantly happy once I made this decision? Of course not. But over time, my moods have improved. It wasn’t always easy and every day wasn’t perfect and dandy, but I have found a few small things I can do daily or weekly that have helped tremendously. I also have a short list of more things I want to try. First up, what has worked:
Journaling, specifically bullet journaling. I have been journaling since I was a moody teenager, before that even. I remember my first “diary” had one of those locks on it that I soon realized was actually super easy to break into. But around this time I had definitely dropped the ball on journaling. I had also momentarily given up on my planner and creating my weekly to-do lists. Basically, I was completely unorganized.
I knew about bullet journaling but I always found it intimidating. Until I watched this video, around the time I was feeling down. Her spreads were simple but seemed effective. I finally felt inspired enough to run out and get my own journal, which was the exact same day my video went live. I spent the rest of the afternoon setting it up. I made lists and rewrote my goals from the beginning of the year. During the process I realized I had found a perfect system where I could organize my months, weeks, and days and have space to journal daily (which I am proud to say I have kept up with quite easily). I had merged 2 failing systems into 1 functioning system and it just felt right.
After all of the preliminary work, it was on to organizing my monthly spread for April. I stole Wendy’s idea for her monthly spread and added a tracker for habits I wanted to have that I could check off every day. I also added a mood tracker at the bottom. This mood tracker has been a major game changer. At the end of each day, I go to my monthly spread and evaluate how I felt that day. Depending on my mood, I draw a smiley face, a meh face, or even sometimes an angry/frustrated face. I actually thought I was going to have a lot of sad faces, but I haven’t had one since I started. I have had a fair amount of meh faces ( like this –> 😐 ), but to me there’s a big difference between a “nothing special” day and a bad day. Overall though, I have had mostly happy face days.
So basically, staying organized and reflecting/being aware of my feelings has been a big help. But I’ve done a few other things over the past month. For one, I have read 4 books. Reading is something that makes me incredibly happy, even if I do get into reading ruts on occasion. If I recall, I was in a bit of reading funk during my down time too, but then I finally found a book that held my attention and intrigued me. And then I found another, and another, and another. I’ve known this, but sometimes I have to remember that stimulating my brain is really good for my mental health. I’ve also been leaning more towards non-fiction books or novels that are uniquely written and I feel like I’m constantly learning something new.
Which leads me into my last point. I have gone out more in the past month than I have in a while, but I’ve also been really good at choosing activities or events that get me to think and feel. As you may have read in my last post, I saw a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, which was absolutely incredible. When I was in LA for teacher training, I caught up with a friend I grew up with that I hadn’t seen in 9 years. I went to The 14th Factory, an interactive art installation. I saw Emma Gannon, a blogger, author, and podcaster that I love, at the UCB Theatre co-host a storytelling event about online to IRL friendships/relationships. And just this weekend I went to the High Museum and saw the Daniel Arsham exhibit with my friend Becca.
And of course, yoga. Going back out to LA for another module of teacher training was such a gift.
While these have been working for me, and I will continue to do them, there’s still things I want/know I need to try. Like:
- Meditation. I try, but somehow it just doesn’t happen as frequently as I’d like.
- Continue to get out more. I’ve been eyeing The Curious Garden at the Botanical Gardens, and plan to go to another event at the High in a few weeks.
- Reconnect with friends. There are still some people that reached out to me after that video that I haven’t seen yet. And there’s some that haven’t reached out, but I would still like to see.
- Take a day away from the internet and social media. I’m really bad at having my phone on me basically always and mindlessly scrolling (which I have tried to improve upon), but I would love to have 1 day fully away from social media and any internet connection. I think disconnecting is something I could really use, but I also think it could be a great exercise into realizing how much more productive I can be.
What do you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis for your mental health? Please let me know in the comments! And if you want me to elaborate on any of these topics (bullet journaling especially) in either a video or another blog post, drop a comment or you can let me know on social media. Hoping you all have a “happy face” day today 🙂