Do These 10 Things Daily For The Sake Of Your Mental Health

Do These 10 Things Daily For The Sake Of Your Mental Health

Last summer,Gallup published a study stating that, worldwide, people are more stressed out than they have ever been. The reason why this should be relevant to you is that when it comes to things like heart disease, insomnia, depression, cancer, and even HIV — if stress is not the cause of these ailments, stress 1000 percent makes these issues far worse. Hell, even the common cold is thought to be brought on by stress. Not to mention the fact that stress can also throw your periods off, make it challenging to conceive, impair your moods and even make it hard to make wise decisions. Yeah, stress is a really big deal.

That’s why it truly can’t be said enough that it’s okay to put firm boundaries in place when it comes to any — and I do mean ANY — person, place, thing, or idea that triggers your stress levels. It’s also essential that you implement certain practices that can help to keep your stress levels down to an absolute minimum. One of the best ways to do that is to take optimal care of your mental health. And here are ten ways to do it.

1. Never Rush into or Out of Bed


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There’s a verse in the Bible that simply says, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” (Psalm 4:4 — NKJV) Ever since I happened upon it, it’s been a personal mantra for me. One reason is that it goes to show that there are a myriad of different ways to meditate. Another is because it’s a reminder that you can oftentimes avoid making unwise decisions by lying in your bed and being…still. So, if you’re someone who feels guilty about enjoying some extra time in your own bed, honestly, don’t.

Besides, did you know that there is such a thing as hurry sickness? Although it’s not a science-based medical condition, it is widely discussed among mental health experts. The backstory is, since stress and anxiety are prevalent among so many of us, a term was coined to describe what happens when we are constantly feeling urgency or the need to rush…when there’s no real pressing reason to. And yes, living this way can lead to things like headaches, fatigue, and lowered immunity.

That’s why, for the sake of your mental health, it’s best to create a sleep routine (check out “The Self-Care Bedtime Routine Every Single Woman Needs”) so that you’re not rushing into bed (that can create anxiety and make it difficult to fall asleep) and that you set your alarm to wake you up about 20-30 minutes before you actually need to get out of bed. Believe it or not, spending some of your morning time easing into the day can do wonders when it comes to pacing your energy and not pushing past your bandwidth until it’s time to come home and rest again.

2. Devote At Least a Half-Day to Nothing but Self-Care (WEEKLY)


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I am a traditional Sabbath observer. This basically means that I keep the Sabbath in the way that Jewish people do: from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Although I was born into this way of life, as an adult, it’s still a part of my self-care routine because, there is nothing that compares to taking an entire day off from the demands of the world to do nothing but rest (or as Shabbat literally means in Hebrew, “to cease from creating”).

During that time, sometimes I sleep in, sometimes I order takeout (I try and do it the day before so that I’m not overworking folks on the day when I don’t), and sometimes I’m doing a skin routine or nurturing my scalp (dead serious; check out “Treat Your Scalp To A Little Bit Of Detoxing This Weekend”). Whatever it is, it’s very self-care-focused — and I love that for myself.

It's unfortunate that a lot of people are hard-wired to think that pampering themselves (check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself”) is a luxury when, 1000 percent, it should be treated like a luxury (check out “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.”). Because how can you give your best to others if you’re not nurturing yourself, to begin with?

Listen, the day when you choose to do it is totally up to you; however, do devote at least half a day, each and every week (even if you have to break up the days) to nothing but self-care. It’s an investment that you will never — EVER — regret making.

3. Don’t Talk Yourself Out of Your “Gut No's”


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Back in 2019, I wrote one article entitled “So, Experts Have Something To Say About Your Intuition's Accuracy” and another entitled “When You Should Trust Your Gut & When You Shouldn't.” The method behind the madness is our intuition was never designed to do what I see so many TikTokers attempt: to weaponize. In fact, I firmly believe that without some serious self-awareness and humility (not one or the other…both), oftentimes, what people think is intuition or their gut instinct is really nothing more than projecting that’s been fed by their ego.

Keeping all of this in mind, while I definitely think that “my intuition is always right” could use some tempering, I also believe that when you’re asked to do something and your first mind is to say “no,” you shouldn’t try and talk yourself out of that — nor should you let other people do it.

You know, there’s an author by the name of Nick Chellsen who once said, “Boundaries are what you say 'no' to. Priorities are what you say 'yes' to,” and I think that summarizes the point that I’m trying to make here perfectly. Because we live in a culture and society that — let’s be real — can be super self-consumed, oftentimes, when folks want us to do something, our own needs and feelings about the request aren’t taken into account. Basically, so long as “they” are able to get their way, that’s all that matters (to them).

That’s why we have to listen when our mind, body, and/or spirit sets the boundary known as “no” — or at least wait. We need to step back and listen to what our psyche is trying to convey to us before making any kind of commitment.

Unfortunately, many humans seem to really enjoy pushing people out of their boundaries, almost as if it’s an Olympic sport. You can’t do anything about them; however, you can honor your own self by not giving them the room in your life to do so. So, if someone asks you to do something and you don’t feel good about it, instead of allowing them to talk you out of why, spend some time looking for the answer and then move from there. Trust me…they can wait. And if the answer is indeed “no,” chile, they’ll survive.

4. Take a Day Trip Every Couple of Months


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With the summer season technically ending (this year) on September 23, it’s interesting that, although around 63 percent of Americans had planned on going on some sort of summer vacation, reportedly, 58 percent won’t be able to because they can’t afford it (inflation is a mutha). What makes matters even worse is a lot of people won’t even try to figure out alternatives even though vacations are proven to help reduce stress, lower anxiety, decrease heart disease and depression risks, provide quality time with people you care about, and ultimately improve your overall quality of life. Yes, y’all, vacations are very necessary.

So, what if you get that yet your bank account doesn’t agree with you? Being that it’s also been proven that a mere change of scenery can do wonders when it comes to your moods and health and well-being, try and at least go on some sort of day trip before the summer season ends and then commit to “rinsing and repeating” every few months. Even going to the next town a couple of hours away to eat at a new restaurant with a couple of friends can feel like a breath of fresh air. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

5. Have “Phone Hours”


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I remember once having a conversation with an elder about why people seem to be more stressed than ever. Their reason, I found to be a very interesting one: “Cell phones are doing it. Back when I was young, you weren’t constantly on the phone, taking in all kinds of conversations and information all of the time. You drove without it. You shopped without it. You would go on a date and focus on nothing but the other person. These damn phones keep people so distracted that they can barely even function.”

She’s not totally off-base here. While some health professionals say that always having your phone on can trigger intense emotions and disrupt your quality of sleep, others say that limiting your social media time to no more than an hour a day and devoting 3-4 of your waking hours to not being on your phone at all will not only help to keep you in a better mood, it can remind you to put more energy into cultivating the relationships that you actually have offline. Not to mention the fact that constantly scrolling is very possibly standing in the way of you becoming more successful at work (no joke).

If you read all of this and you’re still trying to find ways to justify why you should keep your phone on 24/7, there is such a thing as being a phone addict. Currently, only a small number of folks fall into the category, yet the demographic is ever-rising. You can read more about it here.

6. Put Your Frustrations on a Time Limit


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Contrary to popular belief, you can control your emotions a lot more than you might believe. Some mental health professionals call it “emotional regulation,” and it’s all about deciding how you are going to respond or react to something. Many people see this as a sign of maturity because, while it makes perfect sense for, say, a toddler to throw tantrums and overreact (because they haven’t been taught self-regulation skills yet), an adult should not be acting the same way that they do.

So, what are some of the things that you can do to keep your frustrations from getting totally out of control? Meditate. Journal. Go for a walk. Deep breathe. Exercise. Speak with someone (you can trust who listens well and gives good insight). Take a nap. Consume healthy foods that are designed to de-stress you (check out “9 Foods That'll Actually Decrease Your Cortisol (Stress) Hormones”). Kiss your partner (it literally lowers cortisol levels). Spend some time alone to regroup.

Another thing you can do that is where the big girls and boys play? Give yourself a certain amount of time to feel the way that you do. If someone pissed you all the way off, give yourself permission to be mad as high hell for a couple of hours — and then decide that it’s time to take that feeling down a notch (or 10). I do this often, and you’d be amazed by how empowering it is to tell your feelings that they can’t “make you” do anything…that you are the one who manages them.

7. Declare Your Affirmations Out Loud



Negativity bias. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s a psychological term that centers around the fact that most people have a tendency to give more attention to negativity than positivity. This is why, if you ask most people to list five things that they like about themselves and then five things that they don’t, they will typically start off by listing all of the “bad stuff” first (SMDH).

Since cynicism is linked to heart disease, hostility increases stress levels (and depression-related symptoms), tension can cause things like digestive problems and fertility issues, and there are articles out in cyberspace like “Why Negative People Are Literally Killing You (and How to Protect Your Positivity)” — it is absolutely essential that you are hypervigilant and super proactive about “rerouting” negative thoughts by coming up with some affirmations that will cause you to feel good about yourself. There is a lot of data that says the more positive thoughts that you have, the more they are able to influence your actions for the better.

And why should you say them out loud? Research states that it helps with constructive thinking, problem-solving, and building self-confidence. Not to mention the fact that repeating good self-talk improves focus reduces stress, and makes you feel more fearless. So, whether it’s while you’re taking a shower, when you’re on your lunch break, as you’re working out, when you’re making dinner, or before you turn in, jot down some positive things about yourself and life in general, and verbalize them aloud. Your mental health will be oh so glad that you did!

8. Create a “Good Memories” Playlist


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The brain can be a tricky thing sometimes. For instance, did you know that, when it comes to listening to sad songs, science says that it can actually help to put you into a better mood — if not immediately, eventually? The logic is that if a sad song creates nostalgia, it can help you to process your emotions, and that can ultimately reduce anxiety and bring forth feelings of clarity.

At the same time, music that swings more to the happy (or newer) side can give you a “dopamine hit” that will put you into a better mood, boost your brain health, and help to make you a much more creative individual. So, even if you’ve got a playlist that’s devoted to ole’ what’s-his-name from your past, be intentional about also putting together a list of songs that will put a smile on your face and cause you to tap your feet underneath your desk, too (just make sure that it’s not super fast music; that can actually distract you and make you less productive during working hours).

9. Speak Your Love Language...to Yourself


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It always tickles me whenever I sit in sessions with couples who get upset that their partner sucks at speaking their love language. When I ask them if they speak it to themselves, more times than not, a blank look comes over their face. Listen, if you’re not prioritizing how to fully, properly, and effectively express love to yourself, why are you being so hard on those around you who aren’t the best at doing it either (hmm…)?

Virtually everyone knows at this point that the five primary love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Okay, but when it comes to what your “top two” are, how are you showing your own self that you love you? Do you speak positively about yourself (words of affirmation)? Do you schedule regular “me” time (quality time)? Do you make it a point to get yourself some flowers or save up to get something that you’ve been eyeing for a while (gifts)? Do you feel okay about hiring someone to do something that you hate (like maybe getting a housekeeper to thoroughly clean your home once every season (acts of service)? When’s the last time that you gave yourself a foot massage while watching one of your favorite shows (physical touch)?

French author Anaïs Nin once said, “My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. To take pride in my thoughts, my appearance, my talents, my flaws and to stop this incessant worrying that I can’t be loved as I am.” And you know what? It’s so much easier to not just say this but mean it when self-love is a daily practice — when you speak your own love languages to yourself…fluently.

10. Admit When You’re Wrong


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I will forever die on the hill that the reason why a lot of people struggle with admitting when they are wrong and/or apologizing to other people is because their parents absolutely sucked at modeling it to them (le sigh). That said, if you happen to be a parent who is reading this, one of the best things that you can EVER do for your child is teach them how to hold themselves accountable — and children learn best when adults lead by example (check out “What It Actually Means To 'Hold Yourself Accountable'”).

So, why do I say that admitting when you’re wrong is great for your mental health? It’s an act that requires humility. It helps to preserve relationships. It’s an awesome teachable moment. It teaches you, live and in living color, to not sweat the small stuff. In all honesty, it helps you to grow up.

People who don’t mind owning their errors in life are individuals who want to move forward instead of remaining stuck. They don’t care so much about their pride that they would hold onto it at any cost. They give the kind of respect to others that they would want to receive.

And how could operating in that frame of mind not be good for one’s mental health? Yep. Exactly.

Bottom line, own your ish. It’s worth it.

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Featured image by South agency/Getty Images

Originally published on August 16, 2023




This article is in partnership with SheaMoisture

Skylar Marshai is known for her extravagant style, and her hair is no exception. But now, she’s giving her hair a break and focusing on hair care with SheaMoisture’s Bond Repair Collection. “I feel like my hair has always been an extension of my storytelling because I know it's so innately linked to my self-expression that I've been thinking a lot about how my love for crafting my hair into these different forms and shapes has honestly never given it a chance to just be,” Skylar explains.


Listen, don’t even get me started on all of the sheer creative geniuses that the Gemini season produces (you can check out a mere handful of them via an ESSENCE article from a few years backhere); however, when it comes to my DNA and some members of my tribe, we’re Gemini deep too. My paternal grandparents are both Geminis. My mother, her late brother, and my own brother are Geminis. My mother’s husband is a Gemini. Both of my goddaughters are Geminis. Two of my closest male friends are Geminis. And yes, I am a very proud Gemini as well.