Well-being is multifaceted; psychotherapy and medication are two critical tools for promoting and sustaining well-being. Lifestyle modification is often overlooked and, to be perfectly honest, I spend a lot of time with my clients looking at their lifestyles and identifying where changes can be implemented.
Slight modifications or tweaks to your daily routine often take little effort, and rarely cost money, but result in huge payoff! Below are some of the things I recommend most often.
A consistent evening routine with a stable bedtime. Whether it is shower or a bath, having a dance party, lighting some candles, reading, journaling, or praying/meditating, it is so important that every night you engage in at least one activity that helps you relax. Busy lives can make it difficult to go to bed at the same time each night, but aim to go to bed around the same time, give or take 30-45 minutes, each night. Predictability is incredibly soothing for our nervous systems and actually decreases feelings of depression, anxiety, and emotional dysregulation.
A consistent morning routine gently transitions us into our day. Try to keep the same routine every single day regardless of your plans for the day; for example, no matter what you’re doing in a given day, brushing your teeth, washing your face, and changing into daytime cloths are appropriate.
Move your body in ways you love! The focus of exercise shouldn’t be on burning calories or punishing your body, but inviting fun, playfulness, and energy into your life. For example, I see a woman who loves kickboxing classes. She doesn’t, however, love the burpees in the warm-up routine at class. I’ve challenged her to stop doing the burpees. Jumping jacks are a great, whole body alternative that, if they feel friendlier to you, can easily be swapped for the burpees!
Watch the substances: nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, marijuana, stimulants, and so on. Often mixing substances - especially depressants like alcohol and stimulants like caffeine and nicotine - can create a type of mood yo-yoing that leaves you feeling agitated and hopeless!
Bullet journaling is a quick yet efficient way of monitoring yourself. I suggest my clients use a type of bullet journaling to track their mood each day; Pinterest has dozens of lovely examples. This takes 15-20 seconds from your day, but translates into weeks of more objective data, which can help elucidate triggers and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.
The world can be a scary place and we need and deserve every little bit of self-care we can get!