Mental health should always be one of your top priorities, no matter who you are and where you’re from. However, it can be challenging to take care of your mental health when you’re occupied with school, work, family, and everything in between.
Whether you’re going through a difficult time in life or merely undergoing a stressful situation at school, here are my top 10 favorite ways to feel better in a pinch:
- Sob it out.
Ever since we were young, we were all conditioned to believe that crying is an indication of weakness and vulnerability. While many people may agree with this idea, crying does NOT mean you are weak. As a matter of fact, I think crying shows that you are a strong person who isn’t afraid of displaying his/her emotions.
Remember that it is perfectly okay not to feel okay. Cry whenever you need to, however long you may need to. Feel free to cry for hours on end, or for just 15 minutes! Regardless, I can promise you that you will feel significantly better than how you felt before you began crying.
- Talk to a friend.
It helps to have someone in your life who can listen to all your problems without any judgment. Talking with someone about your problems will help you lay everything out and soak in the situation you’re currently facing, which may alleviate your stress. You can also choose to ask your friend for advice, which is valuable in giving you a new sense of perspective on the situation at hand.
By all means, don’t feel restricted to just your friends or acquaintances! By “friend,” I mean somebody you can trust, which may mean your best friend, mom, dad, significant other, or therapist.
When you’re feeling down, exercise may be the very last thing on your to-do list. However, it is scientifically proven that doing at least 7 minutes of physical activity boosts your mood tenfold (source)!
Find what type of physical activity you love the most and make time for it in your schedule every single day. For example, if you love jogging, try fitting at least 10 minutes of jogging into your daily life, whether it be in the morning as soon as you wake up, or during your break between school and work.
Being consistent with your exercise routine not only helps you feel better mentally, but it can obviously increase your self-confidence as well. By feeling and looking good, what is there to lose?
- Take a nap.
As someone who loves sleep, I know that I feel way more refreshed after getting at least 8 hours of shuteye each night, but I am fully aware that this is impractical with the hectic schedule I have. To accommodate for the lack of slumber, I usually take naps in the middle of the day to ensure that I’m squeezing enough rest for myself, even if it’s after school before I head out to work.
The best way to feel better after taking a nap is to know how long your body needs to sleep in order to feel refreshed afterward. Some people are more comfortable taking short, 15-minute naps, whereas others love taking naps for up to 2 hours. Personally I can only take daily naps for a maximum of 30 minutes; anything more leaves me feeling disgruntled. Do what you feel is more comfortable and stick to it.
- Say “Yes” to everything.
You may have days when all you want to do is cry and lie in bed 24/7, but this will only exacerbate your feelings of stress or sadness. Forcing yourself out of bed and making plans may help you forget about your heartache for a while and gives you something to look forward to every day.
If your friends are inviting you to eat dinner with them, say “Yes” and go! If your family wants to go hiking with you, say “Yes” and put on your favorite sneakers! If nobody is inviting you to any events, however, make the plans yourself. Ask your best friend if she wants to go get frozen yogurt with you, or invite your sister to go shopping at the mall with you.
Keep yourself occupied so that your mind doesn’t spiral into worse feelings, but be sure to not put too much on your plate. You want to be able to balance time for yourself and time with those you love. Be cautious of your daily schedule, and don’t be afraid to take off a few plans if you don’t have sufficient time for them.
- Help out in your community.
Volunteering is a phenomenal way to not only feel better, but to also make another person’s day! It shows that you’re involved within your community and that you care about the welfare of those around you, even if you may not personally know them. (Plus, it looks great on your résumé or college applications!)
Studies show that at least 100 hours of service per year will increase your happiness (source). If you think about it, that’s only 2 hours per week! Try volunteering at an animal shelter for one hour every Sunday, and then tutoring middle school students for another hour every Friday. By fitting some volunteering into your weekly schedule, you will feel much more content within a short span of time.
- Write down 10 things you’re grateful for.
Do it right now. If you’re feeling completely despondent, grab a piece of paper near you – it can be a notebook, receipt, flashcard… anything works – and, using a pen or pencil, write down 10 things you are thankful to have in your life. It can be anything: your house, your family, your pets, the shoes you purchased the other day, the meal you just ate 15 minutes ago, etc.
As normal human beings, we tend to thrive off the horrible parts of our lives, dwelling on hurtful memories and negative people. By acknowledging the factors that make our lives amazing, we get to put them in the spotlight rather than constantly focusing on the disheartening aspects of life. Feeling and expressing gratitude gives you a sense of euphoria, especially when giving thanks to those whom you may not realize you are thankful for.
- Treat. Yo. Self.
Though this quote is mostly known for its hilarious scene on Parks and Recreation, it rings true! Treating yourself is one of the most crucial ways to feeling better instantly. Whether that means using a face mask or grooming your nails, do what makes you look and feel like a better version of yourself.
My favorite way to “treat myself” is to do an entire full face of makeup. Though it takes me an hour to do it, it genuinely boosts my self-confidence and leaves me beaming as I head out the door.
Find your favorite way to treat yourself and do it every single time you feel stressed or miserable. Don’t be afraid, though, to switch it up every now and then! Perhaps you’ve been splurging on clothes for the past few months, and now you’d like to grab your favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from your local Vons. Whatever you want to do – as long as it isn’t self-destructive – treat yo’ self!
- Create short-term goals.
When we’re told to make goals for ourselves, we tend to go over-the-top with what we would like to achieve. For instance, being a millionaire may be a goal, but it isn’t something that would be realistically accomplished within a day.
Instead, create goals that you can complete each day. Rather than writing “Finish all 30 pages of homework tonight,” consider breaking it up into smaller chunks that you can easily manage, like “Finish 5 pages of homework tonight; do 10 on the weekend.” This way, you can feel more accomplished with the simple goals you make for yourself as opposed to feeling inadequate for not being able to complete one gargantuan goal.
- Cook your favorite healthy dish.
With fast food restaurants growing rapidly upon us, it is very easy to neglect the comfort of creating your own meals for yourself in exchange for the simplicity of tasty, yet unhealthy foods. Despite the steep incline of convenient foods that you can purchase at 3 a.m., it’s vital to your health and happiness to eat home-cooked meals.
Try whipping up your favorite omelette, or follow a recipe you’ve never tried before! Make foods that you’ve always wanted to try but have never gotten the chance to, like ratatouille or barbecued shrimp. Cooking and consuming your favorite healthy dishes – even if it takes much longer than driving to your closest McDonald’s – will be way more beneficial for your health in the long run. Plus, you get to appreciate your meals more if you were the one who prepped them!
Those are my 10 favorite ways to boost my mood when I don’t have much time! I hope all these tips help you feel better, no matter what you are going through. By all means, don’t feel the need to do every single item on the list above. You can simply do one each day and feel the difference immediately afterward. It’s all about what you can realistically accomplish.
Remember that I’m always rooting for you and your happiness from the sidelines, even if you may not see me!
As always, I will write again very soon! ♡