The start of spring is an exciting time as the weather clears up, the plants start to bloom, and a new season begins. Many use this as an opportunity to organize their lives and revamp their daily routines, and finding ways to de-stress and improve your mental health is a great way to start fresh. While it feels rewarding to develop new habits, too much all at once can cause stress, which can have a negative effect on your overall health. Stress is linked to serious health issues like insomnia, heart disease, anxiety, and headaches. If you’re looking for obtainable goals this spring, consider developing new habits that can reduce your stress and help boost your emotional wellbeing.
Address Your Mental Health
To start, it’s important to be self-aware and understand your current mental state. According to MentalHealth.gov, our mental health determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s undeniable that people of all ages have dealt with stress and are struggling with mental health. According to a report from Mental Health America, “the number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed.” Luckily, there are plenty of ways for you to have a relaxing and mindful spring.
Many people strive to get in shape as the weather gets warmer and you spend more time outside. However, exercise doesn’t just improve your physical health, but your mental health as well. Exercise has been proven to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression by increasing endorphins and taking your mind off worries. Meeting exercise goals can help improve your confidence and expose you to more social interaction. Something as simple as meeting new people at your local gym or seeing a neighbor while out on a walk can help boost your mood.
Working out for even 30 minutes a day can help significantly improve your state of mind. The internet is a great resource for ways to keep active. You can find free exercise videos online, along with fitness plans. Consider using fitness apps to set yourself up for success with a routine and exercises to follow.
Create a Budget
It’s no secret that finances can impact your mental health. If you’re worried about money, you’re not alone. Whether your stress stems from debt, unexpected expenses, or loss of a job, financial worry is a common stressor in modern life. According to a study done by the American Psychological Association, 72% of Americans feel stressed about money at least some of the time.
Creating a budget is helpful to see where your finances stand. Make a list of your expenses and income to get an understanding of your current financial state. Using budgeting apps can help you organize your spending and determine where you need to cut back. Get organized by looking at the balances and interest rates on what you owe.
If you’re looking to save up some extra cash, try creating extra sources of income. Side hustles like freelancing on top of your typical income can be a great source of extra money. You can also potentially save money on your monthly expenses by shopping around for lower insurance rates or looking for ways to lower your monthly phone bill. If you’re a homeowner, look into how and when to refinance a mortgage to save some extra money. By taking advantage of lower interest rates and utilizing the cash-out refinance option, you’ll be able to secure additional funds to cover any larger or unexpected expenses.
Pick Up a Hobby
Hobbies have the potential to create happiness and positivity in your life, as well as the capability to relieve stress and lower blood pressure. You may have been involved in sports and clubs as a child, but it’s just as important to keep learning, growing, and doing things you enjoy in your adult life. Having an outlet you can lean on for mental stimulation and stress relief keeps you feeling fulfilled in life. A hobby doesn’t have to be anything difficult or expensive, rather an activity that you enjoy doing in your leisure time.
Many hobbies are home-based and can be done safely during the pandemic, such as arts and crafts, reading, puzzles, drawing, and knitting. Connecting with nature can support your wellness and music has also been proven to elevate your mood. Slow tempo music allows for a relaxing effect by calming your mind and lowering the stress hormone cortisol in your body. While listening to music can be considered a hobby, creating music can also be a powerful way to alleviate stress. Learning to play an instrument can be an obtainable hobby this spring.
Take Time for Yourself
Between balancing your social, home, and work life, you may feel like you have a lot on your plate. Having a busy schedule is when you need to practice self-care and focus on your mental health the most so you can feel your best this spring. Create time throughout the day to recenter and focus on yourself. Even carving out 10 minutes out of your day to practice deep breathing and meditation can positively impact your mental health. Creating time to speak to a mental health professional or using apps that help with anxiety can significantly improve your emotional wellbeing.
Be sure to settle down at the end of the night. Sleep deprivation can be both a cause and effect of stress. It’s known that little sleep increases your risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Your daily habits significantly impact your stress levels and sleeping habits. Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet and stop consuming caffeine 6 hours before bed.
Mental health has an effect on many aspects of our health, including emotional, psychological, and social wellness. Use the start of a new season to focus on de-stressing and understanding the importance of your mental health.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.