We are almost a year into living through a pandemic. I just reached a year of motherhood and I just said goodbye to my dog of 11 years. I have done an intense amount of inner work these last few months. I’ve spent a lot of time processing grief and trauma. In doing that it has given me space to identify where I can make simple but impactful changes in my life. I think it’s safe to say the last year has taken a tremendous toll on all of us, in different ways yes, but it has been challenging to say the least. At the beginning of this year, as I thought about my goals for 2021, I knew I needed to prioritize myself, because if I didn’t I would have nothing left to give.
I’ve made some very simple changes to habits and behaviors that have had a tremendous influence on my daily life. I wanted to share them with you because they were easy to make but incredibly impactful. And it wasn’t until I actually did something different that I realized how much some of my daily behaviors were negatively affecting me.
5 Daily Habits That Improve My Mental Health
…and drastically improve daily life
1. No Phone Before Bed or When I Wake Up
For as long as I can remember I sleep with my phone NEXT to my head. I am embarrassed to admit that though I am probably not alone in this. My nightly ritual before bed would be scrolling my phone. My morning wake-up routine was opening my eyes and opening Instagram. It was absolutely toxic for me and on some days felt absolutely soul sucking. So I stopped. I put my phone so it is not within reach, which means I can’t reach for it when I wake up at 1am either. I do not check my phone or get on my computer in the morning until I have had coffee and breakfast. No more scrolling my phone in bed at night. It has done wonders for my mental health. 10/10 recommend.
2. Written Lists
It used to be an ongoing joke in my family and friend circle about the number of lists I would write. My Aunt always tells the story of when she stayed with us while my parents were away in high school and I had post-it notes with lists all over the place. Somewhere along the way I stopped writing things down and started putting reminders in my phone, but it’s not the same. For me writing things down and then being able to cross them off feels incredibly satisfying. It’s simple, but it’s effective. It also makes me feel more organized and I am less forgetful.
I made fun of my brother when we were in Barcelona for my youngest brother’s birthday two years ago because he had a daily planner that he used like a journal and wrote down what he did everyday. I think he was on to something because I love the idea of being able to look back on your year with little notes from each day.
3. Get Outside No Matter What
Might seem easy for some (most?). But in the dead of winter in Vermont, it’s not always the most enticing thing, though Vermonters would argue otherwise because nothing stops people here! Craig is really good about this and always has to do activity outside, he brings Marin out at least twice a day. I get easily sucked into work mode and feeling like I need to utilize every free minute of the day to being “productive.” Well I have found that I am most productive when I have a clear mind and spending a few minutes in nature is one of the best ways to do that. The key is to be present, take deep breaths, observe my surroundings and just allow my mind to go wherever it wants for a few minutes a day.
4. No TV In Bed
Craig and I don’t actually have a TV in our bedroom, but got into the habit of watching something on an iPad or laptop. We both agree we don’t sleep well when we watch TV before bed. We fall asleep faster and feel more rested without screens in our bedroom.
5. wake up early
I have always been a morning person and Craig even more so, but after I had Marin I found it harder and harder to wake up early. Of course in those first few months it was sleep deprivation but now that she sleeps 12 hours a night I found myself just laying bed until right before she woke up (Craig is up with her every morning anyway because he’s a very early riser). I didn’t like how it was starting my day, so I decided to start getting out of bed right when I wake up usually around 6-6:15. Having 45 minutes to an hour every morning to myself is so nice. That time to sit and have a quiet breakfast, read the news, have a child-free conversation with Craig and just wake up and feel ready for the day is absolutely priceless.