How to Take Your First Actionable Step Towards Mental Wellness

It’s intuitive to think that the first step towards mental wellness starts, well, in your mind. That’s true for the most part. You need to recognize that your current mental state is not working for you and decide you want to improve it. However, the first actionable step you need to take is actually physical. You can’t embark on a mental wellness journey without taking note of the daily things in your life preventing you from achieving wellness.

Are you eating shitty foods that make you feel sluggish and unproductive? Are you not getting enough sleep to maintain sufficient energy levels? Are you getting stuck in routines that are fueling toxic habits?  Your eating choices, sleep schedule, and daily routine have a major affect on your mental health. They affect your energy levels, attitude, productivity, and so much more. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but take it from someone who has also heard it before, tried it, failed to stick to it, tried again, failed again, and so on — it’s true.

I'm not saying it's your fault but it's your fault gif

Some of the most mentally sound periods of my life have been when I put in the work to improve my diet, sleep, and daily routine. Why? Because it puts your body in a place where it’s healthy enough to work on your mind. Think about it, we’re animals. Our first instinct is to survive, so naturally, our body protects itself before our mind. If your body is not in a good place, then you best believe that your mind isn’t going to look so pretty either. Even just focusing on improving one of these things leads to improvement in others. Eating better foods leads to better sleep which leads to higher energy levels which leads to more productivity which leads to a stronger daily routine which enforces a more positive attitude, and if you lump all these things together you are paving the way to a better “mental” you.

So ask yourself, what better day is there to start than today?? Today marks the beginning of a new month and a new work week, which makes it the perfect excuse to start investing in the physical steps that will help create a space in your life to dedicate to your mental health.

I’ve recently gotten myself stuck in a rut of eating incredibly unhealthy foods –  Did someone say extra cheesy pizza??? I’ve been staying up late into the night and waking up at the last possible minute to make it to work on time. I’ve allowed my living space and workspace to become cluttered, which is a nightmare to my OCD brain. This rut has led to weight gain, irritability, reduced productivity, negative attitudes, and has affected my relationship with myself and others. As someone who struggles with weight, depression/anxiety, and who knows what it’s like to see improvements in these areas, the revert back to this way of living has put a serious strain on my mental wellness.

Of course, I recognize that this will happen. It’s normal to fluctuate in your mental wellness journey. There will be good days, weeks, months and bad days, weeks, months. Like I said earlier, I’ve tried and failed a handful of times, but the important part is to know that those setbacks should be temporary. You have to find it in yourself to try again.

So, with that said — I’ve decided to embark on 3 challenges this month to help get my body where it needs to be to focus on my mental wellness again:

  1. Complete The 30 Clean

    This is a variation of the Whole 30 I did with some of my colleagues back in January. Although I only made it to Day 23 before my love for greasy foods conquered all will power, it was by far my favorite diet I ever did. This is likely because the focus was really just on choosing the right foods. I didn’t feel pressure to count calories or starve myself. I just picked from the compliant foods and ate until I felt full; and let me tell you –  I felt AMAZING! I never felt bloated. My jeans would slip on without a struggle. I was sleeping so much better and waking up feeling energized. My attitude improved tremendously. I no longer felt overcome with anger the second I walked into work. I felt the need to be social and to do things with my day other than napping and watching TV. All this came from just changing the foods I ate! So this time, I’m attempting to actually make it to day 30 which means I’ll need you to send me your Whole30 approved pizza recipes, cause this is going to be rough!

  2. Adopt a Morning Routine

    I am not a morning person. Let me repeat, I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON! I actively hate mornings. I am very much the type of person who has multiple alarms going off every ten minutes and will wait until the very last second possible to get up with enough time to comb my hair, put on clothes and run out the door to make it to the office by 8. Full disclosure — sometimes I skip the hair combing part. What does this extra sleep get me? Besides getting to work looking like a bum with a bad attitude, NOTHING!

    It’s time to change that. My goal is to adopt a morning routine that gives me time to prepare myself physically and mentally for the day by (1) waking up early enough to do a least one thing I enjoy, whether that be a cup of coffee in the comfort of my own home, a podcast episode, or some light reading, and (2) making my bed every morning. I won’t get into the countless studies about how something as simple as making your bed can have drastic effects on your daily productivity levels, you’ve seen them.

  3. Build a Skin-Care Regimen

    Okay, so you’ll either deeply relate to the following or find yourself silently screaming: I don’t wash my face every day or wear sunscreen or moisturize regularly…… Skin-care freaks — take a deep breath, it will be okay. Everyone else — welcome to my blog. Truthfully though, I’m not proud of it. I’ve just been blessed with good skin my whole life and never felt the urgency to take care of it, but I know how important it is. I can hear Jonathan Van Ness screaming at me all the way from the Fab 5 Loft, so I am challenging myself to wash and apply sunscreen on my face daily; not only to help my aging skin but to dedicate some daily time to self-care. Ya feel?
Jonathan Van Ness Gif

If your feeling down in the dumps or like everything in your life seems to be screwed on a little crookedly, it’s probably time for a change. Whether you’re looking to improve your mental wellness or not, these small changes can have drastic impacts on your life. I know it’s easier said than done. Trust me, I have first-hand experience with this. The trick is trying. Even if you don’t have 100% success with your new adjustments, the simple act of trying can change your mentality. So what do you say –  are you with me?


Disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical professional. My advice comes from personal research and experience. If you are looking to make any major changes or need medical advice, please consult your doctor.

5 Comments

  1. I feel personally attacked by your skin care regimen, but I’m proud of you girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks girl! Your blog really inspired me to start investing in my skin-care. This youthful glow won’t last forever.

      Like

  2. Kerriann's Korner

    Hi, Vanessa. Interestingly, your post reminds me of my writing style a lot. I enjoyed it! I just killed two quesadillas, feel bloated like crazy & know tomorrow I’m going to feel like crap. But! Not for long. Just have to keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was interested to see your shift from focusing on working with your thoughts to working with your body. For some people, they may need to work with their thoughts before they can make or implement the choices to exercise or eat right, but for others, this may be just the perspective shift they need and may seem much more doable than diving straight into the realm of thoughts. Plus, I can see how this sets you up to stand on a stable foundation from which you then retrain your brain. In fact, the process of taking care of yourself physically may already begin retraining your thoughts. Thank you for the insight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I agree the process isn’t for everyone. I found that for me personally, whenever I tried to work on my mental health straight on I would get overwhelmed and feel defeated. I was stuck in this perpetual state of overthinking where my state of mind was fueling my bad habits and my bad habits were maintaining my state of mind. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to conquer my thoughts and shifted my focus to working on my daily habits, that I saw an instinctual change in my way of thinking. When I first tried this approach, I only focused on one change. I started going for a walk once a day and I loved it! I felt like it naturally decreased my stress levels for the day so I slowly started to implement other changes. Now that I’m much more in-tune with my toxic habits and am familiar with how to make adjustments to my lifestyle, I feel more capable of implementing multiple changes at once. However, when I first started it was one at a time.

      Thank you for reading. I share my experiences and processes with the hope that it resonates with at least one person, so although this process may not work for everyone I hope it works for at least someone 🙂

      Like

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