As the days are getting shorter and colder, it can take a toll on our mental and physical health. The two are deeply connected. Our mental health affects our ability to maintain good physical health. Our physical health has an impact on our mental health. When one is down, the other suffers. And so it goes.
Thankfully, we can push ourselves out of tough places, by our own will and with a little help from our friends. It is possible to strike a balance, jive to new rhythms, and have fun while we wobble through life.
The struggle of maintaining balance is something everyone deals with. Even though some people look like they have their sh*t together, they struggle too. Life is hard work. Maintaining a physical health routine is hard work. Walking through mental health challenges is hard work.
But we were made to do hard work.
Walking the self-care balance beam. Everyone’s self-care needs look different. What do you need? Where do you need to push yourself? Where do you need to say ‘no’? Spend some time getting to know yourself, your limits, and your boundaries. There will be times when you need to push yourself and exercise, and there will be times when you need to take a nap. There will be meals of eating healthy, and there will be times when you just need to indulge in that gourmet donut. There will be moments where taking a day to stay in and relax is the medicine you need, and there will be times when you need to tackle that to-do list. Balance, boo. Balance.
Nourish your body and mind. Filling your body with healthy, nourishing food and drinking lots of water will benefit both your physical and mental health. Certain foods can boost your mood—dark chocolate might be the thing you need as a bit of a pick-me-up. Like everything else, balance is necessary when it comes to what you’re putting into your body. Paying attention to the connection and the relationship you have with food will help deepen your self-awareness.
Mindful movement. Movement is medicine. When we move our bodies with intention, we pull our focus into our movements. It gets us out of our heads and into our bodies. Movement can look how you want it to and be whatever you need it to be at that moment. It’s a great way to move through what you’re feeling. Whether you’re shaking it out or swaying with yourself—create a safe space for you to move and connect with your body.
Sweat it out. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling off, keeping your temperature close to the optimal 98.6 degrees. When your temperature rises, your sweat glands release water to the surface of your skin. As your sweat evaporates, it cools your skin and your blood beneath your skin. Sweating is a natural and necessary process, and it has many benefits for your physical health.
Sweating promotes healthy circulation, removes toxins, helps fight sickness, encourages healthier skin, lowers your body temperature, and speeds up healing. We’re exposed to different harmful toxins on a regular basis. Toxins trapped deep within the skin are pushed to the surface when you work up a sweat. As you sweat and work out those toxins, your immune system is also getting a boost.
Work up a sweat, baby! Whether you love a hardcore workout or having a dance party in your kitchen, you do you and sweat out those toxins! It might even bump you into a better headspace too.
Ground yourself. You know those anxiety spirals that can suck all the gratitude out of you and launch you into never getting out of bed and only believing that the world is a dumpster fire? Grounding has pulled me out of many of these spirals. Find:
- Three things you see
- Three things you hear
- Three things you feel
- And three things you are grateful for.
When you do this, you’ll pull into your body and your breathing. Take the biggest, longest breath you’ve taken all day, and be with yourself. Whatever you are feeling—joy, grief, anxiety, frustration, peace, patience—is fleeting.
Having a mantra to hold close can also break a spiral.
“I am peace.”
“I am enough.”
“I am calm and confident.”
“I am steady. I am strong.”
“Everything is an experiment.”
“This too shall pass.”
Inhale and exhale your mantra. Write it down and leave it in a place where you look often. As you move through your day, wherever that takes you, you can carry yourself through whatever you face. Because you’re a badass. And we believe in you.
Know when to seek help. Sometimes we can't do it on our own. And that is okay. It’s okay to not be okay. Talk about your struggles or concerns with the people in your life that you trust and know when to seek professional help. You are always worth the time and effort.
Be gentle with yourself. Life is hard. Be gentle with yourself and take time to create a self-care practice that works for you. Look at yourself with kindness and with gratitude. Shake off all that doesn't serve you and keep doing the hard work! All we can do is the best we know, and then grow—one step and one breath at a time.
Jade is a writer, potter, and gardener living in a sleepy town in Northern Ontario. They love growing food, creating functional stoneware, and hermiting with a book as much as possible.