May 7, 2018

Mental Health Monday: Mentally Healthy Habits

Lately, as I've been juggling the 15 pounds I picked up over the last six months or so, I've been trying really hard to focus on changing the bad habits I've gotten into. To name a few of them:

  Drinking coffee again (and adding cream and sugar, making it 130 calories per mug!)

  Eating way too much ice cream



  Eating when I'm not hungry

  Being lazier (not terribly, but my hobbies aren't active ones)

  Drinking alcohol (not very frequently, but when I do, I can't stop with just one or two--I used to have no problem having a glass of wine every night, but recently, I've been wanting more and more).


... And several other things, I'm sure. My habits are nowhere near as bad as they were when I was obese, but I need to nip these NOW before they continue to get worse.

However, that's not what I was planning to write about today. For "Mental Health Monday", I thought I'd write about some habits that are good for my mental health. This is a lot tougher for me, because I'm very hard on myself.

Here are some habits that I'd like to break (or make):

  I want to stop focusing on and pointing out all of my flaws when I look in the mirror. I could list all the things I don't like about my looks, but then I would just be feeding this bad habit. Jerry said it drives him CRAZY when I point something out to him--"Look how gross this loose skin on my thigh looks" or "Look how jiggly my butt is", etc. I want to consciously think about and dismiss any bad thoughts about my body. My body looks how it looks, and there isn't much I can do about it except take care of myself.

  I want to start going to bed earlier. I am in the terrible habit of staying up until after 1:00 in the morning, and then getting up at 6:00 with the kids. So, I'm not getting much sleep. The problem is, I'm never tired at night! It's hard to make myself go to bed as early as I do--otherwise, I'd probably stay up until 3:00. I'd like to develop a good bedtime routine that will teach my body it's time to sleep at a decent hour.


  I've written before about how my biggest fear is getting Alzheimer's disease. I am more scared to get Alzheimer's than I am of dying. I watched my grandma go through it, and then after having that huge scare in the hospital (I wrote about it in the link above), it's in my mind all the time. Exercise (30 minutes, 3-4 times per week) and getting enough sleep are two major correlations for prevention; but also, using our minds in ways that we don't get to every day. So, I'd like to get in the habit of doing some mind games (memory games, problem solving, etc.) to use my brain a little more.

These are a couple of puzzles that my dad's friend made out of wood. They were the
most challenging puzzles I've ever done!! Looks can be deceiving. 

  I want to stop convincing myself that I'm a failure when I make a mistake. This week, for instance, I didn't follow through with several of the goals I set last week--and I'm pretty sure I'm going to see a gain on the scale on Wednesday. Already, I'm starting to hear my mind calling me a failure, and I really need to believe that mistakes will happen, and it doesn't mean I'm a failure.

  I've been listening to some good podcasts lately, and they have helped me in all sorts of ways. There are a lot of inspiring mental health podcasts, and I especially like to listen to other peoples' stories of success (overcoming obstacles in their lives). So, I'd like to continue to draw inspiration from these. Instead of listening to music when I run, I listen to podcasts.

  I'd like to create a vision board. Even if they are hokey, I think that by looking at the positive things I'd like to change/make happen can do nothing but good. I think it will make me feel good just by looking at it. The thought of starting this is overwhelming to me, because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I really need to stop thinking about it and just do it already!

  I want to reduce the stress I put on myself. I am a big procrastinator, and it causes me a lot of stress and anxiety. For example, I get overwhelmed with email, and instead of tackling a little each day, I just put it off until I finally just spend a whole day replying to emails. Then I feel guilty that my replies are so late! I really should make a good schedule for blogging and emails, which will reduce my stress a lot.

  Even though this one will be hard for me, I'd like to start calling a friend on the phone once in a while to chat instead of always texting. I used to LOVE talking on the phone, but somewhere over the last 20 years, I started getting very anxious about it. However, I think it would be a good way to connect with friends--always a good thing to do for my mental health.

  Finally, I'd like to make sure that I take time every single day to do something that I enjoy--even if it's  completely unproductive. One of my favorite things to do is just sit on the steps of my front porch and listen to a podcast while I drink some tea or water. It's peaceful, and just 10 minutes of that sounds great!

What are some mentally healthy habits that you all do? I'd love some more ideas!


25 comments:

  1. Are you familiar with the author/speaker Brene Brown? I love the two part podcast she did on Super Soul Sunday’s with Oprah. Her words/ideas have helped my anxiety and perfectionist obsessions a ton!

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    1. I just listened to that this week! I am loving Super Soul Sunday's!

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    2. I love Brene Brown and Super Soul as well! Perfect recommendation! And, do the vision board! I've done it for about 18 months and been amazed at the progress I've made on my goals. It's also wonderful for budgeting-- I put a picture of a bigger purchase (like furniture) and wait 6 months. If I still want it I buy it! Often it's on sale!

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  2. I listen to podcasts while doing chores. I like comedies most as it takes my mind off stressing and getting the washing done is so boring otherwise!

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  3. Hi Katie! Thanks for sharing some great tips! Would you mind sharing what podcasts you enjoy listening to please? I have just gotten on the podcast train and have really enjoyed listening to them while walking the dog! I recommend listening to 'Ladies we need to talk'. It's very open and talks all topics uncomfortable from a woman's perspective. There's a great episode on alcohol that has made me look at my relationship with it. :)

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  4. I too have been eating a ton more ice cream.....its always my favorite "go to" snack but then I end up eating the entire carton. .....ugh!

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  5. These are great habits to aspire to! I actually identified with several that I would also like to implement in my life. And they're all very positive! Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Also, you look great in that picture with the colorful dress! :)

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  7. Have you heard of the Sleep With Me Podcast? I know of someone that had a hard time falling asleep at a decent hour and when she started listening to the podcast at night, it helped her fall asleep earlier. Since you like podcasts and want to go to sleep earlier, it might be worth a shot!

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  8. Thank you for sharing great healthy habits. You look great in that beautiful dress.

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  9. In regards to your bedtime, are you clicking on your computer or scrolling through your phone all the way up to 1 am? I've learned that if I stop all tech (but some TV) after 8 PM it makes a huge difference in my sleep. My mind is able to shut off and I'm not over-stimulated with blue light. You may also want to try just tucking yourself into bed at a goal time and use it as a time to read or journal.

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    1. How did you get started with that? I've heard that this is really effective, but it's hard for me to justify in the moment.

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  10. My daughter has a really difficult time with sleep. One thing that has helped her is to develop an actual step by step routine to try to "train" her brain to recognize when it's time to sleep. Doing the same thing night after night helps. So does lavender anything! She puts lavender essential oils in her diffuser, takes a bath with lavender oils and puts on lavender body lotion. It helps, even if its just the routine of it! Hope that helps! Thanks for sharing, as always!

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  11. Could you check if taking melatonin for a week or two to shift back your bedtime is an option for you? I wouldn't make it a regular thing, but might help you get on the right track. Alzheimer's is my biggest fear too, my mom passed at 66 from it. I'm so sorry about your grandma. I feel paralyzed with fear about it too :( I never saw your post about it. I'm going to read it now. I hope to get back on track with you! I weigh every morning (best strategy for me I've figured out over the years). This morning I was 145 / 145.5, so I'm hoping that is a good sign I am getting on a downward trend. (My scale measures in 0.5 lb increments).

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  12. Hey Katie, I also deal with both depression and sleep issues, so I wanted to share some things that are helpful for me. I volunteer once a week at the dog shelter walking and training the dogs, and when I was going through a really bad period of depression, it was honestly my saving grace. Having something that got me out of the house and made me feel useful really helped, plus it was two hours where I didn't have to focus on me and what was "wrong" with me. I also try to do as many new things as I can that get me out of my comfort zone and kick my brain out of the what I lovingly call the cyclone of despair. We (husband and I) try new restaurants, we've gone on hikes to places I've never been and just generally try to tick off that list of local things we've said we're going to do and have put off for years. There is something about going somewhere new and doing something different that really has helped me both with the depression, and with the sleeping. I think my brain gets so stimulated with that stuff that I'm actually tired when I finally get to bed at night. I know you had talked about taking a sign language class with the boys after your Boston trip, maybe that would be something new you guys could do that would be fun, and you guys could parlay it into a volunteer experience!

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    1. YES, yes, YES to all of this! The number #1 thing that helps me with my anxiety is getting out of my own head space, and doing for others - our family volunteers with a local refugee resettlement organization and we serve as mentors for other families. We take them to the library to set up library cards, visit local parks with them, cook together, just hang out. It's so rewarding. I also became active with another cause dear to me and I am involved in political action with that. We volunteer once per month at the local food bank. Nothing makes me feel better than getting out of my own way and circular thinking and doing for others. It's the best medicine, I swear, and everyone wins.

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    2. I just want to say, you and your family are amazing for volunteering with the refugees. Seriously. Reading this just made me tear up!

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  13. What a good list!!and not only not pointing out my flaws...but graciously accepting compliments!!!

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  14. Hey girlie - Thanks for the list. I am also interested in what podcasts you are listening to. Could you share a few?

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  16. I have a "living" vision board. It's a magnetic dry erase board - I can write things, hang things, move them around, and trade them out. No worries about perfection - just keep changing it up!

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  17. I've been going through a lot lately and my mental health has suffered as a result. My friend recently suggested that I start a gratitude journal. On the first page, I wrote my name and then surrounded it with all of the people I have in my life who support me...it's this visual representation of all the people I can turn to when I fall. After this first page, I have started writing 3 things that I am grateful for...some of them are pretty boring (like the Alberta sunrises and sunsets that go on forever or something cute that a student did) and others are a truly special moment. My friend said this has helped her look at life differently because when you look back on your entries you realize that there are so many good things about your life even when you feel like there's no hope. In addition, I hope that in six months when I look back on what I've written, I'll be able to see recurring themes of things that really helped me and will be able to hold on to them when times get tough (the things that make me happiest).
    I'm not much of a journal writer, but I think this is has the potential to be very therapeutic.

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  18. I knit while I watch TV at night. It's supposed to be good for the brain and calming, too, and I always feel like I've been productive even if I've just been sitting watching TV, so that's good for my mental state. I'm a novice knitter, too - I took a class at Joann's to get started – so it's not like I'm an expert.

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  19. There is NO substitution for a good night's sleep. No TV or smartphone. Invest in a good black out mask, lavender oil on the pillowcase, a melatonin (1-2 mg)if needed... Give your family a heads up "Wake up only in case of blood or fire"... It takes practice...

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  20. Have you ever thought of doing 23 and Me to find out the medical history / outliers (that might not be the word) but I found out that I do not have the genetic variants for Alzheimer's, nor Parkinson's.

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :) (I had to turn on comment moderation due to a ton of spam comments; but I will approve your comment asap!)

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