The year 2020 has been tough on everyone. Even if you’re still employed and not facing serious financial challenges, you may be struggling to take good care of yourself and to maintain a positive outlook.
Watch Your Diet
Stress can lead us to consume things that give us comfort instead of health. Donuts and potato chips make us feel good; they either return us to our favorite childhood foods or they give us a taste bud party while we’re checking online for more bad news. Make sure that every meal includes something fresh and raw. Avoid over-processed foods and watch your salt and processed sugar intake.
Be very specific about your caffeine intake. Many of us need coffee to get rolling in the morning, but if you need coffee every day after lunch to keep your energy up, you’re probably not getting enough rest to keep your brain and body healthy. Too much caffeine can be detrimental to your health and can affect other aspects of your life such as quality of sleep. When you need to wind down and rest, make the adjustments in your caffeine and sugar intake to allow your brain to slow down and drop into deep sleep.
Guard Your Thoughts
Be really careful about your intake. If someone on social media is posting things that upset you, unfollow them. Even better, try to take breaks from a variety of media so that you can relax your mind. Make sure that you have a shut down time that allows you to wind down from the stress of the day. Additionally, try to find conversation points where you can agree. You may have a family member that you love and enjoy spending time with, but you can’t abide their politics. Do your best to find other talking points so you can continue to spend and enjoy time with them. Do what you can to keep lines of communication open with loving family members. This will ensure that you still have a great support system which can greatly benefit your mental health.
Move Your Body
If you live in a large city, getting out in nature may be a challenge every day due to the high amount of people. Instead, try some tai chi or gentle yoga after work or before bed. Head over to the stairwell and do some single step climbs, then take two steps at a time for one flight, then go back down and take them again. At home, if you have a treadmill or an exercise bike, set a personal rule that you must be moving to watch television or scroll through social media. Keeping your body moving can release positive natural chemicals in your body which can be beneficial to your physical health. Again, take care to set a quitting time so you can physically wind down before bed.
Try to spend part of every day outdoors. Go for a walk over your lunch break, take your dogs or a neighbor’s dog out for a walk early in the morning. Block out time once or twice a week to enjoy the sunset. With very little gear, you can enjoy camping in California or a hike at a local park. Even if you don’t have the time or inclination to camp, consider packing up a blanket, a water bottle, a sandwich and a book and heading over to a local park. If there aren’t trees readily available, make sure you take a hat to protect your skin. Enjoy a couple of chapters in the fresh air!
Keep your bedroom cool and dark. If you use your phone as your alarm, set the alarm, put it on the charging cord, and put your phone across the room or in the next room. This placement gives you two benefits:
- You have to get out of bed to shut off the alarm
- You can’t lay in bed and use your phone
Constant exposure to data when your body is tired will keep your brain from resting deeply. If you can’t rest deeply, your body and brain aren’t being cleansed of the toxins we all pick up every day. One of the big challenges when trying to maintain good health is that getting outside increases our exposure to free radicals. Free radicals are cleansed from the body with antioxidants, and this tissue cleansing requires deep, good quality sleep. Don’t use electronics in bed!
Finally, try to do something every week to help someone else. Serving others is a great way to create positive change in your community. Find a local charity and drop off a few things that someone else might need when you do your weekly shopping. Declutter your home and donate clothes that still have some life in them. Put part of every week into service to give your spirit a lift.