Fall can be a busy time. School is back in session, which can often mean stress for parents, students, and teachers alike. Changes in routine, earlier mornings, homework...everything adds up and can leave us all feeling a little frazzled. Even if you or your kids aren't dealing with school, the change in season can be difficult to deal with. It can be hard to jump back into a regular routine after the fun, less structured months of summer. Wherever your fall stress comes from, here are five quick tips you can use to help improve your mental health this season.
Focus on just one thing.
Bringing our attention to the present moment and being mindful of our experience helps us let go of negative emotions. An easy way to start is by bringing your focus to the little things you do everyday, like walking, eating a meal, taking a shower, or even just breathing. Notice all the physical sensations you experience. What can you feel? Taste? Smell? Touch? Hear? It's normal for your mind to wander during mindfulness practice, so just bring your attention back every time you notice your thoughts drifting off to something else.
Take care of your body.
Eating right, getting enough sleep, and getting exercise don't just impact your physical health - they play a big role in your mental health, too. Pay attention to what food you're putting in your body. Food nourishes your whole body, and that includes your brain! When it comes to sleep, make sure you develop good sleep habits such as avoiding screen time right before bed. Usually, 7-9 hours of sleep per night is the right amount for most people. And finally, exercise. Just 30 minutes of physical activity each day can not only improve physical health, but also help reduce stress and boost your mood. Taking a walk is a great way to get in your daily exercise, and being outdoors also helps you get a little extra vitamin D.
Research has shown that gratitude is closely related to increased happiness and overall well-being. Each day, try to think of one thing you're grateful for. You could even start a gratitude journal where you write down your grateful thoughts. When you're having a really tough day, flip back through your journal and let all those grateful feelings warm your heart.
Take a break.
Kids adults both need breaks sometimes. When things feel overwhelming, you might find it helpful to take space for yourself. Do something else for a while. You can find another activity, take a walk, or even simply focus on slowing down your breathing. It might sound overly simple, but taking just 10 slow, even breaths can help reduce feelings of stress or anxiety almost immediately.
Unplug for a while.
Set down your smartphone, turn off the television, close your laptop, and take some time to disengage from all the screens in your life. It might be hard to not check your e-mail or social media, but taking a break from technology can be wonderful for you! Spend time doing something else you enjoy, go outside, or spend time with someone face-to-face.
How will you work to cultivate better mental health this fall?