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This post is about improving mental health in the New Year.
Mental health is something that has been talked about more and more, but its something that’s far from where it needs to be. There are tons of things that can affect your mental health, and sometimes it can seem really hard to get under control.
College is a really hard time for people who struggle with mental health, and it’s the time that a lot of people discover that they have a mental health problem (according to my lovely therapist.) This being said, make sure you educate yourself on mental health, go to therapy (even if you don’t think you need it,) and take time to invest in self-care.
Self-care is very different from bubble baths and chocolate. Bubble baths and chocolate are self-soothing things. Self-care involves deliberately doing something to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. For example, I love the self-soothing activity of snuggling with my dog, and I regularly like to engage in the self-care act of cleaning the cluttered spaces in my house. See the difference?
In this post, I give you the best tips I have for integrating a self-care routine into your schedule. The New Year is a great time for self-care and it ties in perfectly any New Years’ resolutions. These are my best self-care tips, and I include my own self-care routine down below.
Here are 16 self-care tips perfect for starting out the New Year.
Self-Care Tips and Routine
My Favorite Self-Care Activities
Here are my absolute favorite things that I do to focus on self-care. All of these things integrate perfectly into New Years’ resolution goals. Self-care consists of small changes you can make throughout your life, that make your overall life a lot better. These self-care activities are easy to integrate, you just need to be consistent!
Make a Healthy Diet Change
Eating healthy is a common New Years’ resolution, but it is also a self-care activity. Instead of trying to change your entire diet and then giving up after a week, try just making one healthy diet change. For example, instead of eating so much pasta, I’m trying to make sure that I eat equal amounts of vegetables as I do my pasta.
Keep a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Your sleep schedule is so much more important than people realize. Make sure that you get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, even on the weekends! I try to go to bed at 11 and wake up at 7, only changing the go to bed and wakeup time by an hour at the most. This helps a lot! I feel a lot better, and I notice that when I wake up at 7 I’m surprisingly wide awake and energized.
Drink More Water
Drinking water has such an effect on both our physical and mental health. I try to make sure I drink two 32oz water bottles a day! This surprisingly isn’t that much, and I feel really off if I don’t drink that much water. Here’s the water bottle that I use:
Gain Control of Finances
Check your credit score, open a savings account, and make sure that you get your spending in check. Keeping and sticking to a budget is so important. If you’re stressing about money, spend time thinking outside of the box on how to make more money, or work on your spending. Gaining control of your finances helps so much with your wellbeing in the long run.
Mindfulness can really help keep your stress and anxiety at bay. There’s a multitude of mindfulness apps, podcasts, and you can look up some guided meditations on youtube. If you find that you’re having trouble focusing while meditating, you can work on learning a new breathing technique in 2-4 minute intervals.
Journaling is a great way to keep track of your emotions, or document big events in your life. A journal is a great place to unwind from the day and really let everything go. Dumping everything from every day can make it a lot easier to fall asleep, and it can be a great way to practice letting things go.
It’s clear that screentime is hurting our brains and eyes significantly. Screentime can sometimes be unavoidable, especially if you are in school or have a job that uses a computer. Do your best to limit this screentime when you have the opportunity to. For example, I try and read books or do something that doesn’t involve screentime when I have some downtime.
Improve Time Management
Time management is a skill that can take a while to learn, but it’s one that needs to be practiced and maintained. Working on not procrastinating, showing up to appointments and events early, and working efficiently are all skills that are a big part of time management. Learning time management skills and sticking to them is a fantastic self-care activity!
Exercise Three Times a Week
Whenever I used to hear that I needed to exercise 3 times a week, I would think to myself that there’s no way I could see myself going to the gym 3 days a week. As time went on, I found that I like essentially every form of exercise except for going to the gym. I love taking my dogs for a walk, rock climbing, going skiing, or going for a hike. If going to the gym isn’t for you, try to get up and move three times a week in a way that interests you.
De-Clutter Your Spaces
Take a weekend, and go around your house and de-clutter all of your spaces. If you put on a good podcast and move quickly, this really doesn’t take that much time! I bring a garbage bag for garbage and a box to put items I intend to donate in with me, and I just move from room to room. I always feel so much better after decluttering my spaces.
Work on Relaxing
This can be done however you would like. I personally love to clean all of my spaces, set up a heating pad (it’s super cold where I live) and settle in to read a book. For some people relaxing can include meditation or taking a bath. Find what relaxes you, and make a habit of it.
Read Before Bed
I mentioned limiting screentime earlier, and this is one of my favorite ways to do just that. Making sure that you don’t look at screens at least half an hour before bedtime is vital to getting a good night of sleep. Try reading before bed to take a break from the screens and be able to fall asleep a lot better.
Create a Morning and Night Routine
Keeping your body on a good sleep schedule is important, and this sleep schedule should come a morning and night routine. When making your routines, integrate skincare, cleaning, preparing for the next day, eating a good breakfast, and finding productive ways to end each day and start each day. Your routine is completely up to you, but sticking to a plan for each day can help a lot.
Write a To-Do List, and Finish It
This one is simple enough. Make a list of things you need to do, especially things that you have been avoiding, stick it on your mirror or the fridge and get to work on it. Taking control of everything in your life is vital to keep stress and anxiety at bay.
Social Media Break, or Limit Social Media Time
We all know that social media can be extremely harmful to our self-image. Before taking a social media break, I recommend going through all of your social media and unfollowing anything that could potentially frustrate you or change the way you think about yourself. Then, take a break! Find other things to do, and see how your life is without social media for a week or two. If you decide you want to come back, make sure you’re limiting social media time, alongside screentime, and you continue to unfollow anything that could be harmful to mental health.
Say Yes and No When You Really Mean It
This self-care tip goes hand in hand with just gaining total control of your life, choices, and emotions. Don’t beat around the bush, answer like you truly mean. This doesn’t mean telling people you don’t like them, but it does mean not answering truthfully just because something makes you scared. Stand up for yourself, and make sure that you can not only fully back up your answers but you can also completely hold yourself to them.
My Self-Care Routine (Sunday, Thursday)
On Sunday and Thursday, I dedicate time to self-care to help myself recuperate. I find that with the craziness of college, keeping up with this blog, clubs and other volunteer work, I really will put self-care on the back burner. So, every Sunday and Thursday, I have a little routine that I do to make sure that I stay on track. I found that in the long run, this helped a lot with preventing burnout and making sure I keep a healthy work-life balance.
Sunday – Prepare For The Week
On Sundays, I try to completely set myself up for success for the upcoming week. When I start my week out completely prepared, I have so much more of a productive week. Starting my week out on the right foot has become vital for keeping myself on track and making sure I don’t fall behind! Here’s exactly what I do, every Sunday, to set myself up for the upcoming week.
Fill Out Planner/Google Calendar
I like to look at assignments I have to do during the week, blog work that needs to be done, and any other general things that I need to get done. Then, I put all of these things into my planner. After this, I use my planner to plan out each individual day and make a plan as to when I can get all of these things done.
Clean The Apartment
I go around the apartment and quickly Swiffer mop the wood floors, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, and pick up any clutter. This helps a lot with my productivity throughout the week.
Do Laundry and Put It Away
I usually have the most time on Sundays, and I find that this is the perfect time to get all of my laundry done for the week. I usually will be tempted to just leave it in my laundry basket after I wash it instead of put it away, but I have been holding myself to actually completely finish the task I started.
Just like doing my laundry, I like to get the grocery shopping done during my time on Sunday. I create a list based on my budget, and what I have time to make throughout the week. Usually, I end up just planning what meals I can keep in the fridge for a few days depending on how busy I am.
Right after I grocery shop, I come home and prep some meals for the week. I’ve found that if I don’t prep food in advance, I’ll usually end up skipping some meals because I get too busy. This is really bad for me, so I always make sure to set aside time to cook some food.
I look at my google calendar, and I see what events I will be attending for each day. If I have any early mornings, I set out those clothes the night before to make my mornings a lot easier. Having an idea of what I’m going to wear in advance helps a lot to make my mornings go faster.
Set Goals for Week
I take some time on Sunday to set goals for the week, and then stick to them. I try to make these goals achievable, to prevent myself from getting discouraged. I just put simple things on this list, like finishing reports, working on my blog Pinterest, doing laundry, etc.
Take an Hour to Relax and Unwind
After I finish everything I need to do for the week, I take at least an hour to just relax. I enjoy spending time in my newly cleaned spaces away from screens, and I usually will read my book for a while. This is a nice time to recuperate and mentally prepare for the week ahead.
Thursday – Reground/Prepare for Weekend
By Thursday, I usually have fallen behind on a few things, I probably need to make some more food, I can guarantee I need to clean, and I always need to plan out my weekend. During school, I usually work every weekend. This means that instead of using my entire weekend to recollect and get everything together, I just dedicate some time on Thursday to make sure I prepare accordingly. Here’s what I like to do to get myself back on track –
Adjust Planner and Google Calendar
By Thursday, things are probably really hectic. I adjust my google calendar and planner accordingly for the things that I was unable to complete at the beginning of the week, and I add in all of the things I would like to accomplish for the weekend.
Make More Food
By this time in the week, I usually have to make some more food. I try to have this food on hand to prevent having to run to the store, but sometimes I still need to run to the store to get some more produce.
Again, I run through my apartment and just spruce everything up. Rather than doing more of a deep clean that I do on Thursday, I just clean up the clutter that I’m sure has accumulated over the beginning of the week.
Set Goals for Weekend
Just like how I set goals for the week, I set goals for the weekend. I try to be as productive as possible over the weekend since I don’t have any classes. I try and use this time to get ahead on as much stuff as possible for the upcoming week.
Read Longer Than Usual
After resetting everything on Thursday, I take some time to relax again. This really keeps my stress and anxiety levels down and helps me slow down and take a step back before diving into the weekend.