Here are 7 easy-to-establish routines that can enhance your overall wellbeing in 2016:
1. Take at least 10 minutes in the morning upon waking to center your mind, body and spirit before checking the cell phone or logging onto the Internet. Very few things can't wait a few more minutes while you attune to the new day. Even computers take some time to "boot up". Allow yourself the same courtesy. Meditate. Practice mindfulness. Embrace deep breathing. Be grateful. Focus on something positive, and then dive into the day!
2. Schedule "Move Around" breaks during the day. Our bodies are designed for movement. Unfortunately, our culture is increasingly a sedentary one as life centers more around electronic devices and keyboard communication. Put that phone to use and create "alarms" during the day as reminders to get up from the desk or away from the computer and WALK around. Go outside if possible, or simply stroll down the hallway. Each step is a step in the right direction.
3. Listen to yourself. We all have "instincts" that guide us, warn us, encourage us, challenge us. One of our biggest mistakes is to discount our instincts or minimize their power. Begin to hear and nurture your inner self. This self is our connection to our own higher purpose.
4. Make self-care a priority. We all have those things that make us the happiest and help us to feel our best. Maybe it is a relaxing massage, or a night in a cabin, or a walk in nature. Perhaps a manicure or pedicure. It could be calling a friend, writing a longhand letter, listening to music or just taking a long, warm bath. Whatever it is - tap into it and make it happen on a regular basis.
5. Be social and communicate. We are social beings and we need one another. Make an effort to schedule a lunch with a friend, or a walk, or a cup of tea. While social media and email can bridge long distances and certainly serve as communication tools, nothing can replace the comfort and sense of being okay like a face-to-face interaction with a trusted confidante.
6. Take at least 30 minutes in the evening before going to bed to center your mind, body and spirit. Even a computer takes some time before going "to sleep". Our bodies can't just flip a switch like a light and be "off". We need time and this includes turning OFF cell phones, tablets and disengaging from social media well in advance of bedtime. Prepare yourself and relish the quiet.
7. Get proper sleep. There is no one set of rules for sleep that apply equally to everybody, but good sound sleep is a must. Dark, cool and quiet are generally acceptable best practices when it comes to sleeping. Just think about the amount of activity and barrage of stimuli in any given day, and pamper yourself at night. Treat sleep as a re-charging necessity for the next day.
I realize some of these suggestions may incur some cost and may be prohibitive for some people in some cases. The larger point is to begin the year with a renewed focus on mental health, and a sincere desire to care for our emotional being in similar ways we care for our physical beings. The two are not separate, and each requires constant monitoring and attention.
I wish you all the very best in the new year and a big thank you for sharing some time with me this past year. Be kind to each other and to yourself. Happy New Mental Health Year!
© Copyright 2015 Douglas Layer, M.A., LPCC