In New York City, a busy life can be both rewarding and incredibly hectic — there’s just so much to remember! Your many to-do lists likely pull you in a thousand different directions. So, staying alert from 9 to 5 can feel like a mental marathon, especially when you’re lacking sleep or proper nutrition. Don’t stress, though. If you’re having trouble trying to juggle it all, we gathered a list of ways to promote solid mental health.
Meditation is no longer some New Age fad that’s too intimidating to try. The practice has a host of health benefits, from better concentration to — yep — improved mental well-being. There are multiple methods of meditation that offer varying degrees of investment. That being said, the practice doesn’t have to be complicated: Try just setting aside five minutes for meditation when you wake up or before you go to bed. You’ll likely either start or end your day on a positive note.
Write in a journal.
Putting pen to paper can be a liberating and cathartic experience. Try keeping a journal or even just writing your anxieties and tossing them in the trash. A 2012 study found that writing what’s stressing you out and then physically throwing it away may help clear your mind. Experts also suggest writing when your worries are keeping you up at night.
Exercise at least a few times per week.
Endorphins are magical. When you exercise, your brain releases the feel-good chemicals, giving you an instant mood boost. Additionally, try to take your workout outdoors. Research suggests group walks (yes, walking is considered exercise) in nature can help ease depressive symptoms.
Do a digital detox.
Social media is basically just a highlight reel of someone’s life — but that most likely doesn’t stop you from feeling a pang of envy every time someone posts a photo of their fabulous party, their new car or their shiny engagement ring. Research suggests that people can feel depressive symptoms from scrolling Facebook, likely due to the internal social comparison that’s taking place. The antidote? A break. Ditch those devices every so often for the sake of your mental health.
Learn to say no.
It may be just two tiny letters, but this is your gentle reminder that “no” is a complete sentence. Burnout happens easily — in the office and outside of it. Make sure to spend some time alone and prioritize your well-being. If you don’t want to go to a party, don’t do it. If you feel overwhelmed by your workload, speak up. Self care is not selfish.
Talk to others about mental health.
You never know who you may be helping by opening up about your own experience. Celebrities from Demi Lovato to Colton Haynes and brave projects like documentaries and photo series have all addressed mental health issues this year alone — and our society is much better for it.
Play memory games.
There are online programs and apps that use games for memory retention, exercising your mind, and improving mental focus. Search your app store using the keywords “brain games” and “brain fitness.” Play them on your smartphone while sitting in the doctor’s office, riding the subway home, or waiting in line for your latte. You may start noticing results after a month.
Get rid of toxic chemicals.
Headaches can really interrupt your focus. If you find you’re getting headaches indoors, it may be indoor air pollutants (fragrance, cleaners, etc). Try detoxing the home to see if that eliminates the headaches, thus helping with mental focus.
Use essential oils.
Rosemary oil is thought to increase mental clarity. You can diffuse the oil or dilute it with a carrier oil in a 50/50 solution, then apply to your wrists and ankles. If you prefer to skip the oils, adorn your workspace with a potted rosemary plant. (Note: Essential oils are an amazing resource, but they are also very strong. Just because they’re natural, does not mean they are safe in all circumstances. Keep them out of children’s reach and always take precautions when using them. The use of Rosemary Essential Oil is not recommended for pregnant women and people with other conditions may want to consult with a healthcare professional before using essential oils.)
Create a to-do list.
No matter how sharp your mind is, you won’t be able to remember everything. And simply relying on memory can add unnecessary stress to your life. Whether you prefer an online tool or using good ol’ pen and paper, keeping track of your schedule will go a long way in helping you focus on each task you need to do.