- Stopped watching the news. I never thought I'd say this one. I was once a news junkie. I started every day with Morning Joe on MSNBC, then the Today Show, then some local news, then NBC Nightly News after work, and more MSNBC at night. It wasn't until a year ago that I realized watching the news and seeing news headlines on social media were causing me severe anxiety. I feel like news outlets only cover traumatic, horrific news that serves as clickbait and ratings. I use to have terrible anxiety about dying every day and it finally dawned on me that this was a huge culprit. My anxiety has reduced so much since omitting the news from my life.
- Stopped watching true crime shows and listening to true crime podcasts. I used to be a Dateline and true crime podcast junky, until the day I realized these families and individuals on the shows have suffered from so much tragedy, which is being exploited by the entertainment industry. Becoming a mom drastically increased my empathy and I just couldn't stand to watch these anymore. It breaks my heart what these families have gone through and again, more news about death was becoming heavy.
- Started reading for 20 minutes before bed. This is a new one for me and one of my favorites! I used to have trouble falling asleep. Sometimes it would take an hour or more to fall asleep because I couldn't stop my mind from churning through my to-do list, business ideas, upcoming events, you name it... By reading for 20 minutes before bed, particularly a book of fiction (I'm reading the Anne of Green Gables series), it serves as a break between your racing thoughts and sleep. Your mind transitions away from the racing thoughts and now focuses on what's going on in the book. About 20 minutes into reading, my eyes start to get heavy, I put the book down, and I'm out within minutes. This has been such a game changer. It's a great way to calm your mind and focus on something non-stressful before bed.
- Started power walking on treadmill for 30-45 minutes for 4-5 days/week. This is also a new one for me and I'm loving it! After years of trying every exercise fad out there, this is it. Just buy a treadmill for your home (or your garage in my case). I'm not a runner, but still want to move my body quickly and regularly. I set the incline on the treadmill from 6 to 9 to 12 and walk between 3.4 and 4.0 mph. I either zone out to music in sync with my steps or turn on a podcast. This one stemmed from a Mel Robbins podcast that was talking about the importance of entrepreneurs taking a break long enough each day to care for their body and exercise, and that from this time exercising, you clear your mind to have new ideas and end up becoming a better entrepreneur. If you take care of your body, you're taking better care of your business.
- Started practicing meditation and manifesting. This one is also new and wonderful. I've learned so much about how our mindset and energy impacts our daily life from Cathy Heller's podcast. Manifesting and meditation are not just "woo woo" practices. It's a beautiful, peaceful time to sit in quiet and imagine the life you want to create and think about how you're going to create it. Your life is a reflection where you focus your mind and energy. Just 5-10 minutes every day really makes you feel grounded and intentional about your day.
- Started ending every shower with 10 seconds of ice cold water, then wash my face in the sink with cold water. This is all about strengthening the muscle of your mind. It sucks, but it's nothing compared to people that do cold plunges for 2 minutes. Baby steps! During these 10 seconds, I say my affirmations and "I can do hard things." I'm training my mind to know I can do hard things and to not shy away from things that are scary. I don't know all of the science behind it, but I also hear cold water is really therapeutic for your body.
- Started my weekdays at 4:30 a.m. to listen to 2 hours of inspiring and motivational podcasts while I crochet. This is my "me time," but it's become so much more lately. This is often when I meditate, too. In the quiet of the office during those early morning hours when everyone else is still sleeping – is the best. The day can feel so busy and chaotic after my toddler wakes up and I have to get to work, so it's nice to have this calm, quiet time for 2 hours during the week. My go-to podcasts for the morning are Cathy Heller, Mel Robbins, or The Mindset Mentor. They have such powerful messages and fuel me with the fire I need to achieve my dreams.
Life can be hard. We live in an anxiety-ridden world full of uncertainties and it's up to us to keep our anxiety at bay and live a full, healthy life. During 2023, there were seven specific things I started doing (or stopped doing) to improve my mental health, and they've done such wonders for me. I'm so glad I got a jumpstart on these in 2023 and look forward to continuing in 2024. I'd love to share, in case you find these helpful...