Without getting into too many details, most of us can agree that May has been a difficult month with too many tragedies to keep track of. As we move through our grief, many of us are feeling extra heavy right now, wondering what comes next and how we can help.
Believe it or not, one of the most important things — if not the most important thing — you can do right now is take care of yourself. Self-care is key not only to moving through tough times with grace, but having the energy to take action and make a real change in the way you want to. Here are seven easy ways to take care of yourself right now.
1. Get outside and move your body
The weather is finally warm in most parts of the country, which means getting outside and moving your body is easy. Take a walk, go for a run, do some jumping jacks, ride a bike, go for a hike, or engage in any other type of movement that brings you joy. The combination of moving your body and spending time outside will work wonders for your nervous system and help you feel a little lighter.
2. Disconnect from the news
Yes, staying informed is important, but going down a news rabbit hole can be very unhealthy, to say the least. We've written about what to do if the news is bringing you down before, and one of our top tips is to moderate your intake. After a certain point, knowing more about the tragedies sweeping the country won't help—so make sure you turn it off and tune it out from time to time.
3. Find real social connection
One of the very best, and least talked about, forms of self-care is connecting with others. And no, we're not talking about over text or social media. Call a friend or family member, or make a plan to spend time with them. Social connection can make a world of difference in our mood, so make sure you're spending time with people you love.
Spending time with other people can have a huge impact on your mental state.
4. Engage in something that gets you into a "flow state"
The thing that gets us into a flow state will look different for each and every one of us. For some, a yoga class or meditation is enough. Other people need to have their brain more fully engaged, like in a brain game, a good book, or something else. If you're having trouble figuring out what your flow state "thing" is, one great tip is to do something you've never done before—for example, a workout class that requires all your attention to follow. That way, your brain won't have the capacity to think about anything else.
5. Get enough sleep
We can't overstate the importance of sleep, especially right now. As Amy Poehler wrote in her memoir Yes Please, "One good night's sleep can help you realize that you shouldn't break up with someone, or you are being too hard on your friend, or you actually will win the race or the game or get the job. Sleep helps you win at life." She's right: Sleep can help change our perspective and help make hard times seem more bearable.
If you're having a hard time sleeping, try practicing good sleep hygiene. Keep electronics out of your bedroom (you can access the news on them, after all!), go to sleep at the same time every night, and keep your bedroom cool and dark.
Journaling is a powerful way to remove circular thoughts from your head and get them out on paper. Like sleep, journaling is a really great way to care for your mental health, because one great session can help you feel so much better. Whether you choose to brain dump, list your worries out, or simply write about what you're grateful for, you'll be better off after your journaled than you were before.
7. Talk to someone
It's always a good idea to talk to a mental health expert when you're struggling with anything at all, because they're trained to give you an unbiased perspective and help you rewire any destructive though patterns or behaviors you may have. If you need a referral, speak to your primary care doctor or insurance company—they should be able to point you in the rich direction.
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