To become resilient, routine and mental health are paramount. Let’s dive into a practice that achieves both, and create a Healthy Daily Mental Health Routine.
Morning Routine: Set Your Intention
Starting the day with an intention can be a very positive, a very important first step. So often, we just wake up and we let the day, and the stress of the day, hit us without thinking of how we want to be, how we want to respond.
Some of the best athletes and the best leaders that I’ve worked with set their intention for the day when they wake up in the morning. They think through what the day might look like. They think through how they want to navigate it, how they want to be.
They can’t control what comes at them, but they can control how they want to respond, and the type of person that they want to be—living more closely to their values, being the leader that they want to be. By setting that intention, they’re giving their minds direction on how to handle that daily stress, or the emotion they feel when it comes.
Setting an intention can be an important component to anybody. Not only will it help performance, but it also can help with well-being. So often we’re dealing with anxiety and depression, and a lot of that is because we’re attending to things that don’t give us joy. Don’t give us happiness. Don’t give us meaning.
Even in tough times, we can focus on things that are worthwhile. And when we take that perspective, and we align our minds with that perspective, we can walk through those challenges much more easily.
It’s that easy and it’s that difficult. But it takes a routine, and it takes consistency to do it.
When people wake up in a rut, or in a depressed state, one thing that we recommend people do is just act differently. Choose a behavior that’s different from the behaviors that have gotten them into that state of mind.
If we can act differently, and focus our attention on acting differently, we often start to feel different.
I’ll use myself as a case in point.
When I wake up in the morning and I’m overwhelmed by the day, I’m thinking of all the things I have to do and how I’m not prepared to do any of it. I can stay in that worry, or I can bring my focus back to the present and think, “let’s just get to the shower. Let’s just get downstairs and get that cup of coffee. Let’s put my attention less on the entire mountain, and more on the task right in front of me.” And then, if I can squeeze in some gratitude thinking, and say, “at least I’ve got a great cup of coffee in front of me. At least I have X, Y, or Z,” it starts to shift how I think.
We just have to consistently do it. It’s not like a light switch. We have to do it over and over again. Doing so will move the needle in a more positive direction. It won’t jump from depression to joy, but it will lift a little weight from your shoulders.
“I feel a little better here after I get out of the shower. I feel a little better after I get my exercise in.” When you start stacking these variables on top of one another, you begin to feel and act differently.
The problem is that most people try to take the whole mountain on at once. They say, “I can’t do it. It’s too much.” And when we take it on in its entirety, it is too much. But if we take it one step at a time, and we say, “look, I can get through this one step. Even if it’s difficult or painful, I can do it,” and we compartmentalize every step of our day, by the time we get to the end of it we’ll be surprised by how much we accomplished.
It’s the simplicity of bringing the mind back to these present moment tasks that can make a difference in our well-being.
We recommend ending each day with three things for which you are grateful.
When we just spend a little time reflecting on things we’re grateful for, the science tells us it can improve the wiring of our brains, our biochemistry, and even our sleep.
If we can spend even a few moments going through the things we experienced that day that were meaningful to us, that brought value to our lives, then we can enter and leave each day with a much more positive mindset.
Give these practices a try. Keep at them. Keep going.