We have a common misconception that tending to our well-being or mental health has to be hard. I don’t believe it has to be hard! Change is natural! Improved well-being and mental health can be as simple as adopting a few new habits. Here are eight small-ish changes I made that had big impacts on my well-being and mental health.
As a reminder: I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be! Any claims in this article are based on my personal experience and research. Please read my full medical disclaimer before engaging with my content or anecdotes. Also, as a reminder, this post contains affiliate links to certain products and I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you make a purchase based off of my suggestions.
8 Small-ish Changes I Made that Had BIG Impacts on My Well-Being and Mental Health
Writing Down my Gratitude
I started journaling my gratitude during COVID. I was living alone. I was a freelance travel marketer and I had just watched my entire business get wiped out. The world was in a weird place. To say I needed a mindset shift is an understatement.
I knew that I couldn’t control everything that was going on around me. But, I had to take my mindset into my own hands. I started to find the things I was grateful for, even amidst the chaos and uncertainty. And in that, I started to shift my overall mindset.
My gratitude practice helped me to:
•disconnect from toxic, negative emotions
•increase my happiness
•find satisfaction in the now
•become less materialistic
•develop deeper patience and humility
•create an overall positive mindset
Gratitude, while seemingly simple, is one of eight small changes I made that had a massive impact on my mental health and overall well-being.
Journaling My Accomplishments
It’s one thing to be humble. It’s another thing to downplay your accomplishments and not see yourself for the person you really are. Journaling my accomplishments (and reading them sporadically) helped me to develop a stronger sense of self.
If it’s something that made me feel good inside – it was an accomplishment.
If it’s something that I’m proud of – it was an accomplishment.
Where gratitude journaling helped me to thank God, the Universe, and the people around me for the positive things in my life… journaling my accomplishments helped me to thank myself.
Even on my lowest days – I still have things that I can be proud of myself for. Being proud of myself helps me to maintain a strong sense of self. Journaling my accomplishments has greatly impacted my mental health and well-being.
Putting Effort into My Appearance, Even if I Have “Nothing To Do”
I also started adopting this practice during COVID. I was starting to get really down with the state of the world. I knew that I couldn’t control everything that was going on around me. But, I could control myself. I realized I was treating myself as if I were sick. Wearing loungewear or pajamas everyday, leaving my hair up and not styling it is how I act when I’m sick. It was no wonder I was feeling down.
I wanted to create a healthier routine for myself. So, I started to wake up and get dressed and ready, even though I had “nothing to do”. Putting effort into my appearance is also one of the life lessons that I learned from my time in Italy! Italians love to make sure they’ve presented themselves in a proper manner, everyday.
This practice of putting effort into my appearance, even if I have nothing to do has helped to:
•boost my self-esteem/confidence
•enhance my mood
•create a routine
•nurture a more positive body image
•boost my productivity
Creating an Affirmation Practice
I had been journaling for about three or four years before I picked up an affirmation practice. Creating an affirmation practice helped me shift from journaling out of obligation, or a feeling of needing to “fix” myself to journaling from a place of self-love.
Affirmations have significantly helped me shift my perception of myself. They have helped me root into the truth about myself and helped to mitigate negative self talk. My conversations with myself are MUCH healthier since adopting an affirmation practice. If you’re interested in practicing your own affirmations I wrote up:
111 Affirmations to Tap into Your Feminine Energy (you don’t have to be a woman to practice these!)
55 Affirmations for a Positive Body Image (these helped me to love and appreciate my body, even when I was nearly 50 pounds overweight)
88 Affirmations for Abundance and Success (because who doesn’t want a little extra abundance and success in their life?)
Inviting Intention into All Aspects of My Life
If you take nothing else from this article – I hope you, at the least, take intention. Intention is one of the most powerful ways to make a shift in our lives.
Intention is purpose. Without intention you have no purpose.
Setting intentions for everything we do can shift something from mundane to impactful. From “eh” to “wow”! Inviting intention into everything we do has the power to add clarity and focus into our daily activities.
An example of inviting intention into my life that had a big impact on my mental health and well-being was creating an intention for going to the gym. I used to go to the gym out of obligation. I felt it was something “I had” to do in order to achieve a certain body type. However, that was putting a lot of pressure on my time at the gym.
Instead, I started to set the intention to go to the gym to take care of and feel good in my body. Since then my gym sessions have been much more impactful on my overall mental health and well-being. I may not achieve a certain body type, ever. However, with intention, I can feel good in my body every single time I step foot into the gym.
Eliminating Processed Food/Chemicals From my Diet
Eliminating processed food/chemicals from my diet seemed like a difficult feat, at first. But, it was pretty easy to adjust to. Learning about the connection between gut-health and mental health was my main motivator to clean up my diet. Essentially, the healthier our gut – the better chance we have to master our mind.
Many of the ingredients in processed foods are chemicals not compatible with our human biology. If you’re unsure about where to start with eliminating processed food/chemicals from your diet… fret not! Here are 7 ingredients I avoid at all costs, even in organic foods.
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Spending the First Hour of My Day Phone-Free
Starting the day screen-free has had a massive positive impact on my mental health and overall well-being. I like to spend my morning mindfully. Unfortunately, it’s hard to use the phone mindfully. There are so many potential pulls at us on the phone! From violent news updates to a text message that can throw us for a loop to people with triggering “picture perfect” lives and much more.
Choosing to start my day without any of those potential triggers helps me cultivate my intention and mindset for the day. After I’ve started my morning, mindfully, I choose to go into my phone inviting that same intention and mindfulness.
This helped me start my mornings on a better note! It has also helped me to cultivate a healthier relationship with my phone, social media and the news, in general.
Aligning With My Natural Circadian Rhythm
Aligning with my circadian rhythm is why I chose to title this article “small-‘ish’ changes” instead of just “small changes”.😅 If the concept of a circadian rhythm is new to you: don’t worry! You can read all about why I aligned my lifestyle with my natural circadian rhythm and how you can, too.
The most simple reason for aligning with our natural circadian rhythm is because it makes life easier. All of our internal processes from digestion to sleep to energy availability and so much more are controlled by the internal clock known as the “circadian rhythm”.
Aligning with our circadian rhythm can drastically increase our physical bodies ability to fight off all of the ailments above! This was the hardest change I had to make out of everything compiled into this article. I used to go to bed between 2-3am and now I go to bed between 8:30-9:30p. It took me about six months to adjust to this. I was a proper night owl! I started making the shift by trying to get to bed 30 minutes earlier each week. That way the overall change was much more manageable!
If we want to experience change in our lives – we have to make change in our lives. I hope that this list of eight small-ish changes that had big impacts on my well-being and mental health can inspire you! Have you made any other changes that have helped to positively impact your mental health and well-being?