Lately, I have been trying to put myself first - which hasn't always been easy. I've been able to make some larger changes to prioritize my mental health which looked like: quitting a job that was causing more stress than it was worth, quitting a toxic job shortly after, and making more time for creating (even if it's not for a client and just for myself).
BUT remembering to prioritize my mental health in smaller ways doesn't always occur to me. So I'm writing this mostly as a reminder to myself.
Prioritizing my mental health looks different during different "seasons."
I notice my mental health starts to suffer when I try to avoid big emotions, when I forget to slow down, when I go too many days without journaling and self-reflection, or when my work life balance dips. The key is to try and catch my stress before it turns to burnout. If I'm not paying attention, burnout can quickly turn into panic attacks, days of low moods, irritability with people I love, lack of creative drive, and forgetting to do simple things.
So how am I putting my mental health first right now?
1) I slow down and find time and space for quiet.
2) I return to my tools. I remind myself that "I've been here before and gotten out of this slump before." I remind myself that I already have all the tools I need and researching anxiety or depression won't change anything - I just need to implement what I already know.
3) I go for walks as often as possible.
4) I write a gratitude list even when it's difficult.
5) I journal stream of consciousness style to get all the feels out.
6) A good ol' cry usually helps (if I'm being honest).
7) I meditate. 5 minutes is usually enough to feel calmer.
8) I drink a large glass of water and I make sure I eat something nourishing. Sometimes when I'm experiencing a tough day I forget to take care of myself in the most basic ways, so it's always good to check in on this.
9) I cuddle my pup.
10) I clean. Maybe that sounds like a chore, but it usually makes me feel like life is more manageable when the environment I'm spending time in is clear of clutter.
11) I allow myself time to "do nothing." I watch a favorite movie, lay in my pjs, and forget about the to-do list momentarily. My value is not determined by my productivity.
Those are just a few that are top of mind - I even keep a list of these on my phone so I can reference it quickly when I notice my mood dipping and I am able to ask myself "which one of these can I do right now to change my day for the better" (even slightly).
I would love to hear how you are putting your mental health first and what your go-to list looks like!