Many of us know the hard way how important prioritizing mental health is. And during a pandemic, it’s even more urgent and important, but the irony is that taking care of our mental health is even more difficult!
How are we supposed to take care of ourselves when we’re suddenly working from home…but our childcare is gone? These are strange, difficult times, filled with grief and fear, but what I’ve found is that when I do make a point to prioritize my mental health, I’m better able to handle what’s going on at work and in my family.
I know we’re all struggling right now, so I wanted to share five ways to put your mental health first during a global pandemic:
- Focus on your mornings
- Move your body
- Rely on natural aids
- Make affirmations part of your daily routine
- Get help
Mindset Shifts to Help You Embrace Putting Your Mental Health First
Before I begin to explain how to put your mental health first, I first need to share some important mindshift changes you might have to make before you’ll be able to prioritize your health. I’ve already mentioned one of them–it’s ok to take care of yourself first.
In fact, I’ve started to understand that it’s not just ok to prioritize your mental health, it’s vital.
How can I help my kids, my family, or my friends if I’m not healthy? Being responsible to care for myself is part of keeping my entire community healthy and well–it’s really not selfish or all about me at all!
Asking for Help Isn’t Selfish or Weak–It’s Better for the Community
The other important mindshift change you might have to make to put your mental health first during a global pandemic is to trust that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness or neediness–it’s a way to involve your community, endear them to you (don’t we all love helping other people?), and keep yourself strong and healthy so that a small problem doesn’t turn into a bigger problem later.
Asking for help, whether it’s from a medical professional, through medication, hiring team members like housekeepers or childcare (when you can), or enlisting the help of family and friends for specific tasks, keeps your whole community healthy and growing.
It’s another very important way to prioritize community over competition.
Ok, ready for some of my favorite ways to put your mental health first? Here we go!
1. Focus on Your Mornings
Small habits lead to big changes, and that’s so true when it comes to mornings.
You might be in a season where your children are so young that waking up before them would mean a) losing precious sleep and b) basically waking up in the middle of the night, so you might legitimately need to skip this section and go on to #2–sleep is important!
But if that’s not you, waking up a few minutes before your kids (or pets!) to enjoy a focused self-care routine could (pretty much literally) change your life. Here are some things you could do in the morning:
- Take a walk
- Practice yoga or meditation
- Get in a workout routine
- Drink your coffee while it’s still hot (!)
- Read a book
- Do something indulgent or luxurious just for you (try my five-minute holistic skin care routine or use a gemstone roller to give yourself a facial massage)
- Journal (here are 58 journaling prompts, plus my favorite essential oil blends)
- Practice art therapy (here are 12 art therapy activities you can practice)
2. Move Your Body
Exercise and good mental health go together like peanut butter and jelly. Regular workouts can improve everything from depression and anxiety to your memory and cognitive function to how your body handles stress. Exercise can even help you sleep better at night!
I know what you’re saying right now: girl, I know exercise is good for me. I just don’t have the time. I hear you!
Here are some ideas to help you pet your mental health first via exercise:
Find Something Fun
Sometimes we don’t prioritize something because it feels more like a vitamin than dessert. How can you make exercise less chore-like and more something you look forward to?
You might thrive on competition or a good challenge–try a couch to 5k or sign up for a marathon!
Maybe you need some serious variety in your life, or you’re missing your in-person classes–obé fitness has tons of live and on-demand classes from top NYC instructors.
Want something gentle and focused on your prenatal or postpartum needs? Try Every Mother.
Need accountability or a friendly face? Ask a friend to walk or run with you (just don’t forget your face masks!) daily.
Stack Your Habits
Habit stacking is like multitasking; it’s combining habits in meaningful ways, and it’s especially helpful when you really, truly don’t have much time (hello, postpartum, work from home life!).
Can you walk on a treadmill or walk outside while you take a call? Can you do a ten-minute yoga flow while the kids are eating lunch and watching Paw Patrol (ain’t no shame in a yoga mat in the kitchen)? Can you take date night or family night outside?
One of the quickest ways to sabotage any exercise routine is to go all in. I know that sounds weird, but everything we know about habits and productivity at this point tell us that starting small is the only way to make lasting changes.
Small changes tend to feel good and make us feel like we’re winning–which means we’re more willing and able to try them the next day. A ten-minute daily walk can eventually become an hour-long daily walk.
3. Rely on Natural Aids
My fellow hippie oil-lovers, if ever there was a time to cash in on allllll the benefits essential oils and other natural wellness aids offer, it’s now! When it comes to putting your mental health first during a global pandemic (or any other time), essential oils and crystals can be serious game changers.
Here are some ways to use essential oils and crystals:
- Diffuse or roll on an inspiring roller blend first thing in the morning or for emotional support during the day (essential oils like ylang ylang have been proven to help with anxiety and mood disorders; use them alongside of our crystals for feelings collection)
- Use crystals around your home for everything from self-love and forgiveness to motivation (more on how to use crystals with oils)
- Wear crystals and oils together
Need recipe inspiration? Here are a few fan favorites:
- Our DIY guide Beyond Lavender is FULL of recipes to help you put your mental health first
- Karen Serrano’s Unicorn roller blend, Brave blend, and Think Happy blends are perfection
- Kacey Jane’s Mellow Mama blend is amazing for emotional support
- And our followers loved Stefanie’s Be Still roller blend and Work Day diffuser blend!
4. Try Affirmations
An affirmation is a sentence designed to anchor your routine and/or your day in positive thinking. They’re not nearly as woo-woo as they might sound; we know how powerful the brain is, and how much what we think impacts how we behave and experience the world around us.
The truly great thing about affirmations is that they plug in so naturally to so many other parts of your day (habit stacking FTW!).
You can choose an affirmation for your morning routine (pair it with a morning EO blend) or you can choose a go-to affirmation for stressful times. Regardless of what or when, repeating your affirmation thoughtfully and out loud can help you reset your thinking, engage your mind, and affirm yourself.
This post about our wearable diffuser bracelets has great examples of affirmations; here are a few more:
- My heart is open to love and joy; fear and uncertainty have no place in me.
- I am strong and full of life; I can face the future with confidence and hope.
- I won’t compare myself to others; I am unique and valuable the way that I am.
- I am worthy of love; I open my arms to receive it.
- I will be present in every moment today.
5. Get Help
Friend, I hope after reading this article that you feel like it’s ok to ask for help. I know for some of you reading this right now, you might need professional help–from doctors or counselors or both.
So many of us have been there, and I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that needing help doesn’t make you less of good and wonderful person! This article has helpful information about how to find help right now. Please take care of yourself–we need you!
How are you taking care of yourself right now? Tell us in the comments–we want to know!