These 18 Real-Life, Tested Mental Health Strategies Really Work
When it comes to taking care of your mental health, everyone has different ways of coping, managing, and giving themselves some TLC. What works for one person, might not work for you, and vice versa. So it takes a little bit of trial and error to truly find out what strategies and habits you should incorporate in your life to better your mental health.
The good news is that there are so many options out there. You could journal. Maybe having a nighttime beauty routine helps you unwind. Getting enough sleep is never a bad thing. Exercising could be your way to unwind and let shit go. You can even get into meditation. Or maybe having a mantra, motto, or saying that you like to repeat over and over helps put you in a better place. The possibilities are endless.
Right now, your mental health might be on a wild roller-coaster ride. There is so much uncertainty, fear, and feelings of loneliness because of social distancing. Whether you've gotten into a good routine for your mental health or are still struggling to find new habits, I find it's always helpful to see what has been working for others, just to get some ideas on new things to incorporate into my own life. So I polled our staff at THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear to get an idea of what they've been doing during quarantine. Here's what they had to say below:
"Walking is one thing that always clears my mind, so I've been making a habit of getting socially distanced steps in every day—wearing my favorite New Balance sneakers. There are so many beautiful places in my neighborhood I've never explored before, which have been fun to discover." — Kristen Nichols, Who What Wear Managing Editor
"No matter how tired or unwilling I feel at the outset, breaking a sweat never fails to leave me feeling incredible. My roommates and I have started an unofficial habit of tuning into Ryan Heffington's Sweat Fest sessions each Sunday afternoon on his Instagram, and although we may look ridiculous doing our grapevines and sashays around the living room, we've each got a goofy smile plastered to our faces throughout the class that lingers the rest of the day. The rush of endorphins combined with Heffington's feel-good energy is a mood booster like no other. When I'm not taking his dance class, though, I usually opt to take a jog outside, especially along the river here in New York, which always puts my mind at ease." — Anna LaPlaca, Associate Editor, Who What Wear
"I've been doing Melissa Wood Health for a while now but have come to appreciate her workouts more than ever. Not only is her voice magically soothing, but her workouts are quick yet so effective. It's something I wake up looking forward to every morning and is the perfect kick-start to the day. You can do all of her workouts with your own bodyweight but can also incorporate props to help kick it up a notch. These are the props I've been using: resistance bands, Pilates ball, and ankle weights. I usually follow it up with a Matcha Turmeric Tonic Blend. I just recently tried this Golde product and I'm totally hooked." — Alexandra Flowers, Senior Analyst, Affiliate & Content Strategy
"After reading a horoscope that the month of May was the time for me (and any of my other Sagittarius sisters) to reconsider my relationship with health and routine, I took the plunge by signing up for Sculpt Society's 28-day challenge. An unlikely move from a woman who has worked out probably 10 times total in the past three years. I'm on day 18 of working out every day, and I'm hoping to continue the practice, even if I slow down to five days a week. It costs $20 a month, and not that we can work out anywhere besides our homes right now, but just for fun, I crunched the numbers of cost savings of a digital subscription versus the average boutique workout class, which costs $24. If I were to take a workout class IRL for every class I'll take online in a month, I would have spent $700 more. The thrift!
"I'm going to add that to my good feelings about what I'm doing. The instructor, Megan Roup, is lovely and encouraging, and I get so much satisfaction from crossing off each day's completed 'assignment' on the 28-day calendar I printed out. It's a lot of sculpting, as the name implies, but when we do cardio dance, the routines are approachable for someone who struggles with choreography. I am already seeing changes in my body, including less arm jiggle and a tighter and more lifted rear, and there's no question it helps with my mental state too. My only tiny complaint is the music isn't the hits you know and love, but that's a flaw with every online streaming class. I'll end with saying that I was gifted with a subscription to another popular streaming workout company, and I've been choosing to pay for this one!" — Kat Collings, Editor in Chief, Who What Wear
"For me, it's been the double Rs—running and reading! Funny enough, I was never a big runner pre-quarantine (unless it was an interval class like Barry's), but getting up super early before everyone else wakes up in Los Angeles to run has been game-changing. Of course, I keep a safe, six-foot distance from my fellow Angelenos and wear a mask, but I've noticed more than any other workout, running kicks up my mood, wakes me up, gives me energy, and helps temper my anxiety. It's something I'm planning to continue even after we're allowed back into our gyms. (These APL sneakers are my favorite!)" — Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor, Who What Wear
"I wasn't working out at all during the first several weeks of quarantine (and let's be honest, many weeks before as well), but I was inspired by Amanda Kloots to buy a jump rope. She's a trainer whose husband is battling COVID-19, and her positivity is really amazing to see. I can be very lazy, and jump-roping is such a simple way to get my heart rate up quickly. Instead of committing a big block of time to work out, which inevitably means I won't end up doing it, I just do several few-minute sessions throughout the day—mostly when I'm procrastinating with work. I bought this cheap one on Amazon, and it gets the job done. Other than that, good TV shows are truly helping me get by right now. I'm obsessed with Money Heist, The Stranger, Never Have I Ever, and Little Fires Everywhere, among others. — Erin Fitzpatrick, Senior News Editor, Who What Wear
"I've been doing yoga twice a week in the mornings since my self-quarantine began, and I feel like a completely different person at the end of the hour than I did at the beginning. Not only does it physically help me by stretching out all those muscles that are getting a lot less use at home these days, but it also starts off my day on a really calm and positive note that definitely stays with me throughout. Sometimes I do private sessions over zoom, but I also love the classes on the Alo Moves and Obé Fitness apps." — Nicole Akhtarzad Eshaghpour, Senior Market Editor, Who What Wear
"I've also been taking The Nue Co.'s Nootro-Focus supplement each morning, which has been helping me maintain focus while working from home." — Nichols
"Honestly, when the safer-at-home orders were put in place, I sort of felt like I was on vacation—like it didn't matter what time I went to bed or woke up. But I'm such a creature of habit, so I felt totally off those first few weeks. I've found that just sticking to my regular schedule and routine has really kept me feeling normal (or as normal as someone can feel during this weird time). I wake up early, do some form of strength training before walking the reservoir, and it's honestly just so nice to be able to get outside when there aren't many people out." — Caitie Schlisserman, Managing Editor, Branded Content
"I've always had a very regimented self-care routine, but witnessing mass suffering and having to grieve all that's happening in the world, it's personally reinforced the importance of self-care during this time. I've adopted what I'm dubbing the five Rs to help maintain mental clarity through this time: reading, rituals, reflection, recognition, and remedies. Through this time, reading has been great as a form of escapism, and adopting small rituals like making coffee each morning or trivia night with friends has helped make time feel less daunting.
"In addition to reading and rituals, the most important thing for maintaining mental well-being is recognizing the need to do so—recognizing that some weeks will be easy, and some will be hard—and ultimately creating routines that work for you to get you through this time. Personally, a part of my recognition process has been using this time for reflection through meditation and journaling. I can attest to how much it can help you not only recognize what you need to heal but to also make space for better mental well-being. And finally, the other aspect that's been essential when all else fails is trying to help remedy some of the world's issues in small ways like donating to nonprofits like No Kid Hungry, texting senate representatives, and offering help to those around me. Mental health really is about finding multiple outlets that help you cope in the manner that works best for you." — Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, Audience Engagement Editor, Who What Wear
"For the first few weeks (or month, honestly) since the official stay-at-home order began, I had a hard time finding the motivation to work out or be productive around the house. I've turned to a few apps that have really helped me find my groove during this time, like the Libby app, which has tons of audiobooks available for free, and all you need is a library card for access. (I am currently going through the Harry Potter books for the third time.) I've found listening to lighthearted audiobooks while cleaning around the house or working out helps me get excited to move and keeps anxious thoughts at bay." — Schuyler Youngstrom, Manager, Email and Partnerships
"I've always been the biggest book worm, but the habit has definitely intensified. It's very soothing for me to start and end my day with a really good book (especially if there's coffee involved), and I've been plowing through at least one or two weeks while at home. My roommate and I are obsessed with Book of the Month club, and we always look forward to when the new titles are announced so we can delegate who's ordering what." — Jahns
"I have plenty of anxiety on a good day, so I've tried many strategies over the past couple of months to get through this time, some of which I haven't done much of in years, like puzzles and baking. I usually focus my time and energy on things that are productive, but working on a puzzle while I half-watch TV at night has been really therapeutic." — Allyson Payer, Senior Editor, Who What Wear
"I've never been much of a TV watcher, and the thought of spending all day or evening on the couch binge-watching a Netflix show honestly sounds so unappealing to me. Instead, I've really leaned into my love of reading over the past two months. It's not only a great way to entertain myself, but it passes the time well too. So much so that I will sometimes look at the clock at 8:30 p.m. only to realize I forgot to eat dinner, and I never skip meals. I'm on my 10th book of quarantine already, and so far my favorites are Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (the movie comes out in 2021), and Normal People by Sally Rooney. And yes, I know I will eventually cave and watch the TV adaptation of that last one—sue me." — Michaela Bushkin, Senior Fashion Editor, Branded Content
"I've always loved to bake but can never find the time, so that's been a silver lining. I wish I could go crazy and make a layer cake or something, but then I'd have to eat it, so it's just been healthy things like gluten-free banana bread (shocking, I know) and cookies made with coconut sugar and almond butter." — Payer
"To be honest, I don't think I've gotten a full night of truly restful sleep since this whole thing began. One way I've been encouraging my body and mind to relax is by taking warm, soothing baths at least twice per week. Actually, I've always loved baths, but these days I find myself relying on them for that hour or so of much-needed release that really helps prime me for sleep. I'll soak in the tub while listening to a podcast or even while watching an episode of reality TV (my weakness!), and by the time I'm done, I'm so relaxed that sleep comes infinitely more easily. This period of isolation has taught me that treating myself with grace and kindness goes so much further than weighing myself down with pressure to perform, achieve, and produce when I'm feeling down. I think the best thing we can all do for ourselves now is to practice positive self-talk and gratitude as we move through this moment in time. And baths! More baths!" — Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor, Who What Wear
"Another app I swear by is Calm, which has incredible 'sleep stories' that help me fall asleep in minutes, which is a delight for someone who normally takes over an hour to doze off." — Youngstrom
"One of the things I've missed the most since social distancing started is going out dancing with my friends. Since I cook and bake a lot, I've made a point to turn my moments alone in the kitchen into small parties: I turn the lights down low and blast whatever I'm feeling in the moment, whether it's Whitney Houston's hits or the latest release from Charli XCX. I'm sure my neighbors don't appreciate it, and I know my boyfriend thinks I'm nuts, but whatever works, works! And speaking of my boyfriend, our at-home date nights are such pick-me-ups after long days of staring at a screen. I can't recommend putting the phone and computer away enough." — Aralyn Beaumont, Copy Editor, Branded Content
Next up: 24 Little Things You Can Do for Yourself and Others Right Now
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