Habit changing tends to be a focus when we want to manage our time better. If you are having a hard time focusing on working from home or you’re dealing with ever growing to do lists, changing a habit won’t do the trick. There is always an underlying reason for your procrastination and time management stressors. When these challenges take over, they impair our ability to move through our days effectively. This vicious cycle then begins to affect our mental health, increases stress levels and ability to manage even more. We feel stuck and unable to move forward with even the smallest tasks…
How Our Environment Affects Our Mental Health
In my blog How Your Environment Affects Your Mental Health, I talk about what mental health is, how you can improve it and most of all what you can change in your environment to help your mental health.
Next time you clean up at home, pay attention to how it makes you feel. Even if it’s just doing the dishes or vacuuming the floors, most of us can relate to feeling a sense of accomplishment and relief at having put in the time to tidy up.
Just like unhealthy habits and procrastination start a downward spiral into inertia and feeling stuck, learning to take even the smallest of steps toward organizing our surroundings, planning and using our time more efficiently ripples into positive changes in other areas of life, such as healthier eating.
Habits For Better Mental Health
I’m a strong believer in prevention, being proactive and intentional. Nick Wignall, clinical psychologist, also talks about this in his article – 8 Habits For Better Mental Health. It’s difficult to address a problem without also addressing the unhealthy habits associated with it. These habits then keep you trapped in a place of bad mental health that can worsen and develop into mental illness.
Mindfulness – Integrating this approach of being present helps you self regulate your emotions and stay on top of self care. It trains you to be less reactive and more responsive, first in daily exercises like breathing, meditation or yoga and eventually in other stressful situations. Developing our own mindful practices reminds us that we might not be able to control what life throws at us, but that we are in control of how we react to it. If being present is challenging and triggering, it’s recommended to get professional support so that you can work through what is coming up in a supportive environment.
Exercise – Particularly cardio is most effective when dealing with depression and anxiety. You don’t have to do it alone! Finding a workout buddy allows us to connect socially, but also keeps us accountable to our goals. Exercise also helps with appetite which may be an issue for those who struggle with anxiety. It’s a win all around!
Morning + Evening Routines – This is one of the first things I do with clients once we’ve addressed the clutter in their spaces by decluttering and organizing what’s left. Having a healthy and productive morning can keep you on the right path for the rest of the day. An evening routine ensures that you get a good night’s sleep and are ready to meet another day refreshed and reenergized.
Growth Mindset + Being Proactive – A powerful habit to grow is getting regular feedback from others on how you are coming across, where you can grow and if you are communicating clearly. It’s all about perspective! It helps with depression and psychological flexibility because instead of being stuck in one way of being or thinking you are able to look at a situation from different angles. Approaching it this way allows you to take charge and feel empowered rather than powerless.
Let it Out – Don’t ruminate if something is bothering you. Talk to someone, write in your journal, breathe deeply or simply move your body. This helps emotions move instead of getting stuck or growing bigger. Combining movement with mindfulness is another way to get connected and overcome fears of feeling uncomfortable emotions, thoughts and feelings.
How Do Eating Habits Affect Your Mental Health
The key to thinking clearly, being more alert, focused and having the ability to learn new information is eating healthy. If you have a diet that consists of too much sugar and flour then you are likely to develop an addictive relationship to these types of foods that also cause inflammation. Inflammation is the key source of illness and inflammation in the brain causes fatigue, emotional instability, poor decision making and can lead to stress and depression.
To learn more about how food affects your mental health and what you can do read Eating Well for Mental Health.
How Does Time Management Affect your Mental Health
Beverly Flaxington from Psychology Today notes that time management is more about personal management than getting things done. The key to being efficient and organized is finding what makes the most sense and works best for YOU. However, if we are not psychologically flexible, getting organized is challenging because we are unwilling to change things and in turn loose an opportunity to improve our mental health.
By being effective and intentional with your time you are more likely to sleep better, make time for self can which in turn means less stress and better mental health. If you are in the same environment all the time setting boundaries around your time and how you spend it can be challenging. However, setting boundaries around your time is key to helping you decide what matters the most, your health and well being.
Scott Dust from Psychology Today notes some ways to improve your time management are:
Being able to filter and pick and choose what tasks to do
Stay inside the system – set boundaries around your time and stick to a schedule
Prioritize first then do – it’s so easy to ping pong from one task to another so be intentional about what you are doing and when
Be mindful about being a manager or maker – do you need to put your energy into being in collaboration with others or do you need to make time to focus and be unavailable for a set amount of time.
How Being Organized Can Help You With Your Mental Health
It supports you in being more intentional how you spend your time
Makes it easier to stay on top of self care, ie. being active, eating well and following a sleep routine
Have the time to connect with others during meals
Empowers you to take care of yourself instead of having others do things for you that you can do yourself
When we are feeling down and not at our best we are less likely to have energy to make a healthy meal. Being organized in the kitchen is key to supporting our overall health. What this could look like is having prepared meals in the freezer, lots of healthy snacks on hand, and a regular grocery and meal prep routine.
Being organized helps you to be more mindful and intentional with your time. Making a point to connect with others weekly. Going for a walk or phone chat means you get out of your head and have a chance to share with others what’s on your mind. This helps any situation feel less overwhelming as well as normalizing your experience. It’s very likely the person you are sharing with will have experienced something similar.
It’s very easy to be isolated in the culture we live in today. You could easily never leave your home because anything can be delivered to your doorstep. Try mapping out your week and making a point to make time to connect with others. Leave room for life to happen. I have noticed that clients who struggle with life and mental health either plan too much or don’t plan at all. Find your balance!
And most importantly take one small baby step at a time:)