Steps to live your best spring life
The arrival of spring doesn't just remind us of cleaning out that storage closet we've left abandoned for months. The season change can also be a reminder for us to check on our mental wellbeing. It can be easy to disregard prioritizing our mental health when we're busy with everything else in our lives.
No matter if we're in a season of stability and security, or if we're feeling overwhelmed and confused, there is always room to examine our thinking and evaluate how we might be able to love ourselves more, despite the state of our season.
Simple strategies exist to help us when we're braving the weather of our day-to-day. Here are just a few to help us support our well-being, no matter the season we experience.
1. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness quiets your mind, your anxieties, your worries. It is a beautifully simplistic process, but it does take some practice.
During times of stress, it's harder to purposefully direct your thoughts. Have you ever thought about what you're thinking? Being purposeful with where we allow our thoughts to travel can influence our actions, our behaviors, how we interact with others in our world.
Mindfulness stops you. It's a short red light when you're burning all of your resources - a quick reset to help you cool down so you can give your whole self in your present moment.
So how do you do it?
Mindfulness, simply put, is when you focus on your present. You calm distractions and feel your whole self in that exact moment. You mentally smack away your little, nuisance thoughts.
...the laundry is still in the washer...and the dryer...and on the couch
...what time is the baseball game is this evening?
...have we rsvp'ed for that dinner?
...wait - when are taxes due, again?
...when was that science project due?
So, simply put - it can be a Thoughts, Get Out exercise.
Here are some examples of exercises (thanks to this guide by Mayo Clinic)
Pay attention. It's hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. Try to take the time to experience your environment with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste.
Live in the moment. Try to intentionally bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do.
Focus on your breathing. When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help.
Not sure where to start? YouTube has a plethora of guided meditation exercises for beginners. Check it out - what do you have to lose?
2. Practice Healthy Habits
By now, most of us have given up on our New Year's fitness goals. The changing of the season is a reminder for us to revisit those healthy goals we so confidently established on January 1st. There's no question - consistent exercise, a balanced diet, and plenty of sleep is key for a healthy mental well-being.
Sleep allows our mind and body to reset. Without plenty of rest, it's more challenging to control our mood.
Eating healthy foods gives our mind and body the vital nutrients it needs to increase wellbeing and decrease stress.
Exercise helps you feel better about yourself, but more, importantly, plays a key role in releasing powerful hormones like serotonin and dopamine - which help us feel good.
3. Dive Into Your Social Network
No matter the size of your social network, community is invaluable. We are not to live this life alone - we are #bettertogether. Forming connections with others, re-engaging those connections we've accidentally left to deteriorate, helps us combat stress, find support, and normalize our experiences some (aka help us not feel alone in our situation).
Spend some time thinking about the friends that bring you joy - are you staying connected with them?
If not, create a goal to reach out to them. And follow through on that goal.
4. Practice Positivity
The research behind positive thinking has been growing over the past decade. No question, there is a link between positive thinking and overall health. While the correlation may be related to a multitude of combined factors, there is no argument that thinking positively helps you in some way. Not a positive person? I feel ya - here are some tricks to help you feel more positive.
Gratitude journaling. Sounds fun, huh! All you do is write down what you're thankful for each day.
Are you so busy that you feel like you don't have time to write? Wake up and think about specific things, events, people you're thankful for.
Too busy in the morning? Write about what you were thankful for during the day before you go to bed. It could even be the pen you used during your meeting today. Pens can something incredible to be thankful for.
Compliment someone. Compliments are a mood-booster, for you and the complimented. Delivering genuine compliments to others can help release those good-feeling hormones. Good-feeling hormones help us feel happy, productive, and encouraged.
Mental wellbeing takes persistent attention. Identifying an external reminder to help you remember to check yourself is always helpful. "Spring cleaning" doesn't just have to mean you clean the baseboards and fans. It can also mean cleaning your energy, your thoughts, and developing healthy habits.