Updated: Feb 5, 2020
The overwhelming demands of everyday life have left many individuals feeling lost and tired which often result in the development of a mental disorder. Whether these demands are voluntarily or involuntary, it ultimately leaves our bodies mentally and physically maxed out by the pressing demands we place on it to constantly keep going. As a doctoral student, I can definitely vouch for this. Between 12 hours of classes each week, research teams, work, and practicum I find myself trying to find time to breathe, let alone workout or socialize. If you are also feeling overwhelmed with life and all of its responsibilities, try out these five research proven tips to reduce some stress and make your journey more enjoyable.
Create 3 different lists: monthly, weekly, and daily. List 8 specific things you want to accomplish for the entire month such as work out for 20/31 days or save $100; use specific numbers or goals, research shows you will be more likely to reach them. Next, create a list of at least 5 things you want to accomplish during the week such as meal prep or try out a new recipe. Finally, create a daily list of 2 primary things you want to accomplish in the day whether it be reading a chapter in a new book or going to the gym. Look at your goals in a funnel, starting with the overall big picture and then slowly trickling down into the smaller goals that will help reach the larger ones. Reaching your goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis improves mood, productivity, and overall mental state.
A healthy diet is not only a huge part of physical health but mental health as well. Food is the body’s medicine so you should expect to feel how you eat. Preparing your meals for the week not only saves you money and time but enables you to get the nutrients you need to be at your best. Prep meals with a goal of 1 each of the following: protein(meat/fish), starch (rice/potatoes), and vegetables. Don’t forget about snacks !! I personally love fruits, dark chocolate, and almonds.
Exercise has been proven to not only improve bodily function, but it also increases brain activity and overall mental health. You don’t have to become a gym guru who spends multiple hours a day in the gym to be healthy. Stick to three general rules that will leave you feeling better about yourself.
Never go more than 2 days without working out
Always take the stairs over an elevator or escalator
Don’t be afraid to lift weights, they tone your body more than any treadmill ever will
Don’t Forget About Self Care
With overwhelming schedules it can be hard or even seem impossible to find time for the things we love. MAKE TIME. By making a plan and sticking to it, you can create spaces in your schedule that allow you to indulge in some self-care whether that be reading a book or hanging out with friends. Set aside at least 2 different time slots that allow you to do something that you enjoy doing each week to reduce depressive symptoms and improve mental health.
Get to Bed On Time
Sleep is one of the most underrated tools of mental health. Your attitude toward the day reflects how much sleep you got the night before. While you may think skipping out on sleep and grabbing a double shot espresso will get you through the day, it won’t. Using coffee as a sleep supplement begins to not only create a bodily dependency leading to withdrawals, it also dehydrates, puts a hole in your wallet, and hinders sleep. Try to avoid drinking coffee 5 hours before going to bed and get NO LESS than 6-8 hours of sleep each night.