I recently shared a personal post on social media for Bell’s #letstalk campaign (which is focused on raising awareness and funds for mental health). I shared that while I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, I’ve struggled on and off with my mental health since adolescence. I’ve been very fortunate to have had many incredible people support me over the years in my mental wellness journey.
Over the past few years, especially during the pandemic, I’ve been doing my best to focus on my habits and practices, learning and recognizing that there are many small. simple things that I can do (that really don’t require a whole lot of time or effort), that help shift the way I feel in a noticeable, positive way.
I’ve put together a list of ten of those things, in the hopes that even a few of them might be helpful to others. And here’s the best part, all ten of these practices can be done in ten minutes or less (I promise)!
1. Make my bed in the morning.
Ok I know this one doesn’t sound fun and I actually do not enjoy the process of bed making (or any type of domestic housework really), but I do love how my room looks when the bed is nicely made and it gives me a sense of accomplishment to start the day: ‘look at me, I already did something productive'!
2. Read or listen to something inspirational first thing in the morning.
Last year I signed up for this free web site called The Universe Talks and every morning I wake up to an email in my inbox with a little personalized note from the universe that has a thoughtful/inspiring/funny message for me. I love reading them - it’s a great way to start the day.
3. Put on tunes and move my body (preferable outside if I can make it happen).
If you follow me on Instagram you know that I’m kind of a dance enthusiast. During the pandemic, I kind of forgot how much I love music and dancing – how it’s an instantaneous energy shifter and mood booster for me. I often don’t feel like dancing but what I’ve realized is that if I just crank a really good song, I usually can’t stop myself from moving. For me, it’s the thing that’s most helpful in getting me out of my head and into my body. When I’m connected to my body, I feel good.
4. Do a 5 minute positive focus.
I learned this one in a course I did called Strategic Coach. The idea is that you just spend 5 minutes writing down all the things that are going well in your life. We all suffer from this thing called the ‘negativity bias’ where we tend to focus on the things that aren’t going the way we want, what we’re worrying about or what we want that isn’t happening for us. This exercise flips that way of thinking to what’s going well (and there’s always a plethora of good things going on for you if you actually take the time to think about them). No ‘good thing’ is considered too small or insignificant. Try it – you’ll likely be surprised at how many good things you can write down in 5 minutes.
5. Do something kind for someone else.
The absolute fastest, easiest way to make yourself feel better is to do something nice for someone else. It helps shift your focus away from yourself and your own perceived struggles, it makes someone else feel better and in knowing you’ve made a positive difference for someone else, it automatically lifts you. My new thing is that I voice text people. It’s easier for me than typing a message, there’s no need for them to reply and I just let them know I’m thinking about them or share some funny thing that happened to make them smile. They can hear the energy behind my voice (which doesn’t translate the same way on text) and it’s easy and fast to do. I also keep a pack of Kindness Cards on me and try to give them out as often as I can (a simple, easy way to make a total stranger’s day).
6. Make a gratitude list.
I’m sure by now you’ve likely heard a lot about the practice of gratitude and the impact that it has on our happiness. The reality is a gratitude practice works because the more we focus on the good, the better we tend to feel and when we feel good, we attract more good. It’s the law of attraction (if you’ve never read or seen The Secret, it explains it well). I recently made a gratitude list but instead of writing down the things I’m grateful for, I instead wrote down all the people in my life I’m grateful for and why (the difference they’ve made in my life). I even included some people on the list who aren’t necessarily my favourite but who I recognize have served an important and necessary role in my life and have helped me learn something valuable along the way. I wrote the list from a heart-centred place and it felt really good. It made me realize how many amazing people have been a part of my journey so far and the immense value of my relationships.
7. Look back through your camera roll or Instagram feed.
I know this might seem counterintuitive, like why would you want to look back on all the good, fun times when you’re in a crappy place but I love doing this and I do it often. I love looking at myself when I’m happy and having fun. It reminds me of how I feel and look when I’m feeling good. I feel a sense of abundance and joy just looking at the photos. It transports me back to that moment in time and it also reminds me of the temporariness of things and the importance of being in the moment and really appreciating and soaking things up when you’re having fun and feeling good.
8. Go for a quick ten minute walk.
Listen to tunes, talk to a friend or just soak up the fresh air and the sights and sounds around you. This has been especially important for me over the last couple of years since I’ve been working from home. Being in my house all day behind a computer on zoom calls does not make for a happy mind or body. I know this.
9. Take a deliberate, mindful pause, get still and quiet and just take some deep breaths.
The easiest way to centre and ground yourself in the present and calm your nervous system is to slow down and focus on your breathing. There are a ton of amazing breathwork apps (which I don’t really use). But I did watch this Max Strom Ted Talk a few years ago called Breathe to Heal, where he describes a very simple, effective breathing technique, which I still use regularly.
10. High five yourself in the mirror (and ideally talk to yourself while you do it).
This one’s courtesy of Mel Robbins and I know it sounds weird and it’s kind of awkward to do at first but then you get into it and realize it actually helps (because if you don’t cheer yourself on, who will)? I high five myself and usually say something simple like “you’re amazing – you've got this.”
I hope some of these tips are helpful for you! I’d love to know – what are the little things you do to feel better?
Alyssa Kerbel is an entrepreneur, dreamer, personal growth addict and the Founder of mini mioche. Follow her over on Instagram at @AlyssaKerbel.
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