Get Grounded: Habits to Help Cultivate Mental Health
Contributor: Primally Pure
Photographer: Primally Pure
With the demands of daily life and the hustle our culture has come to praise, it’s all too easy to become distracted and disconnected from ourselves, our hearts and how we want to live. Have you ever felt like you’re floating (but fast) through life, just going through the motions or operating on autopilot? Sweet friend, I’m right there with you.
If we’re not intentional about taking time to get grounded, living from that place can easily (and quickly) take a toll on our mental health.
Getting into the practice of establishing daily and weekly habits to help cultivate mental health is essential for creating solid ground to build a life upon that’s aligned with your values and vision – no matter what comes your way.
Here are some simple tips + habits to help support your mood, your mind and your overall well-being.
MAKE PLANS TO DO NOTHING
Our schedules can completely fill up if we don’t prioritize much-needed “me time.” Even if you’re the epitome of an extrovert, taking time to yourself to regroup, reflect and practice self-care is proven to support your overall wellness. Whether it’s spending time meditating + journaling or cooking a healthy dinner and dancing in the kitchen, block out intentional time and schedule in something that fills your soul – rather than just fills your calendar. If someone asks if you have plans, tell them you do (but by yourself).
Oxygen is everything: for your body, your blood and your brain. But when anxious feelings strike, short/shallow breathing becomes the norm – and doesn’t allow for your body to fully receive the fresh oxygen it needs to optimize your internal well-being (including your mental state). Implementing slower, deeper breaths as soon as you start you feel your heart rate rise, helps to engage your parasympathetic nervous system and allows the mind and body to feel more balanced and able to focus on reparative functions + restoring overall health.
To promote a calm, quiet mind, rather than your chest rising and falling with shallow, sharp breaths, be intentional about keeping your chest still and pulling your breath from your abdomen (aka diaphragmatic breathing). Not only does it deeply soothe your sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze), it’s a sweet, simple reminder to slow down, remain present, and welcome the process. Okay, let’s get grounded and take a few deep, diaphragmatic breaths together:
Inhale for 3 counts, fill your belly with fresh oxygen and watch it expand and rise. Hold for 3 counts. Then exhale for 6 counts (twice as long as the inhale to get out all of the stale air within you), feel your stomach sink towards your spine and feel your whole self start to deeply, immediately relax.
Did you know that your thought life directly affects your physical and emotional health? So no matter what thought patterns may be circling around in your mind (maybe it’s anxiety, insecurity, fear, unforgiveness), negative mindsets wreak havoc on the health of your mind, soul and body.
One powerful practice to bring more positivity and health to your state of mind is gratitude. Take time every single day to reflect on the things you’re thankful for. Whether it’s writing a Thank You card, creating a gratitude journal and jotting down 3 things daily, or spending time in prayer + thankfulness before even getting out of bed in the morning, this is one ritual that is proven to minimize toxic thoughts and replace them with a lighter, more loving mindset.
LOG OUT + UNPLUG
You guys, technology is taking over our world – and minds. It’s all too easy to become distracted and disconnected from our selves and the lives we want to cultivate because we’re hyper-connected, always available, and living in a social-media saturated society. Unplugging from technology helps to create space to fill with true connection, with yourself and with others. I know it may sound difficult (or next to impossible for some) to log out and unplug, but whether it’s for an hour, an afternoon or an entire day – DO IT.
Unplug for the sake of being present: Try taking a walk outside without bringing your phone (if you don’t post it, don’t worry, it still happened and no, that text isn’t as urgent as you think, I promise), get a cup of tea with a friend and keep your phone in your bag, or make an OOO auto-response (but let your boss know beforehand you’ll be out of the office!) and put replies on pause for the day. In today’s culture, this may be one of the most powerful and impactful mental health habits you could ever cultivate.
PHONE A FRIEND
Life is more meaningful when it’s shared. Celebrating and laughing in life’s mountaintop moments or supporting one another in the midst of sad or stressful seasons can help give you (and others!) the support, strength and happiness necessary to keep your head up. When you surround yourself with a community that cares, life becomes more fulfilling and enriching. Call a friend, get a coffee date on the calendar and feel the difference when you live a life that’s connected. And this is where I strongly encourage you to log out, unplug and turn off your phone (unless you’re expecting a call from the babysitter!) to be fully present with the person in front of you. Remove distractions for even deeper connection – and a happier mindset.
Movement is life. I say it all the time in regards to Gua Sha, but the same holds true for your mental health and well-being. Not only does moving your body boost blood and oxygen flow to your brain (remember the importance of diaphragmatic breathing?), it’s a proven practice to boost your mood and outlook on life, too. Getting active regularly has been proven to improve sleep, alleviate stress levels + anxiety, strengthen the immune system and most importantly, increase self confidence. I sometimes struggle with cultivating this habit (okay, fine, more than sometimes) so let’s make it a morning practice and keep each other accountable, okay? As you roll out of bed and your feet hit the floor, take ten minutes to move your body + stretch your way to better mental health. I think this is one mental health habit we might just get hooked on!
GET IN NATURE
Even better yet, let’s move our bodies in nature – barefoot. The healing power of nature has been scientifically studied to make us happier + healthier and being barefoot on the earth even has multiple mental health benefits. Breathing in fresh air, soaking in sunshine and connecting with the world around us refreshes our spirits and sense of wellness. Whether it’s a morning walk, a weekend camping trip or an evening stroll under the stars, surround yourself with reminders of how big and beautiful our world is and take a break from the rush of daily life. Spend your days at a desk? Bring a potted plant into the office and take time during your lunch break to go outside and get grounded.
TAKE A BATH
I probably sound like a broken record with this one, but it’s one of our favs over at PP. Seriously, schedule this simple self-care practice in your weekly planner (and protect that time!) to experience its relaxing and stress relieving benefits for your body, mind and spirit. Draw a bath, light a candle and lock the door – you deserve some much needed “me” time. Sprinkle epsom salts and essential oils into the tub to detoxify your body, soothe a tired mind and soak in vital minerals + healing properties.
Pair your epsom salt bath with your diaphragmatic breathing! The warmth of the water and quiet space for relaxation helps to support even slower, more meditative breaths – which has this incredible ripple effect for powerfully boosting your overall sense of wellness. Not a bath person? Maybe it’s time to become one.