5 ways to keep your mental health in check

The state of my mental health has been my highest priority in every adventure I take on. It all started when I had a breakdown during my undergraduate degree. The stress of being able to finish my degree took a toll on me in my 4th year of university. After a walk-in therapy appointment and an open conversation on what I was going through, I changed my perspective on the importance of my mental health.

From that moment 3 years ago, I’ve taken an active role in ensuring that what I am committed to does not affect my state of mind. During the last 3 years, I went back to school, planned a wedding, and moved to a larger city. Now, I work a corporate job in a thriving tech company where taking a sick day means working from home. While there are moments you’re bound to have a bad day, I’ve developed a few habits to keep the health of my mind in check.

1. Check out after work

In an industry like technology where you can work anywhere at anytime, it is imperative to maintain that work life balance. My job is the leading cause of stress in my life, where many times I’ve worked late hours, or woken up in the middle of the night with a nightmare about work. When I first started my job, keeping up with the workload was my biggest challenge. I did not want to allow work to affect my personal life so I began to completely check out when I left the office. This means I manually sync my email, which means they don’t constantly come through as notifications unless I physically go into my Mail app. I set my status on instant messenger as “Out of Office” so no one messages me on IM. I’ve also implemented a similar setting for my calendar so that no one sets up a meeting with me after a certain time, allowing me to leave work at a manageable hour. These little tips ensure that I am checked out once 4:30pm hits.

2. Meditate

As an advocate of mental health, I’ve always known the benefits of meditating. But I used to imagine meditating as sitting cross-legged on the ground with your eyes closed. But to adapt to our busy day-to-day lives, I’ve discovered Headspace. Headspace has been essential for me over the last 2 years. The app has 10 sessions to start with and takes 10 minutes out of your day. Available on iOS and Android, this app has been key to keeping my mental state in check. Not having 10 minutes in your day to focus on yourself isn’t an excuse.

3. Colouring

You’ve probably already seen the rise of colouring books for adults! There’s a reason – colouring has become a method of therapy for adults. Just like painting, knitting, crafting, or any hobby that gives you a sense a peace – colouring does just that! I typically colour right before bed while watching a T.V show in the background. Currently, I’m working through The Time Garden by Daria Song with my favourite markers from Indigo. It’s such a great feeling of accomplishment when a page is complete!

4. Read

One of my favourite hobbies of all time. I loved reading as a child and the Harry Potter series was my way of escape. The older I grew, reading became more than just an escape. Reading meant I was able to be at peace for a little while, escape the madness around me and calm me down. Currently, I’m doing my second run of Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I’m attracted to love stories that are tied to tragedies (no spoilers, I promise!), it gives the story an extra edge.

5. Exercise

During my wedding, I had all the motivation to go to the gym. I really was in the best shape of my life. Once the wedding was over, let’s say I decided to let myself go. However, more than just gaining back a little bit of weight, I realized that exercising has helped me cope with bad days at work. I realized that working out after a bad day actually made me feel better. Yes, you read it all over the internet how exercise is soooo good for you – but it is. It really is!

These are five ways that I’ve developed as habits to not let the stress and chaos of real life get to me. These activities combined or on their own is my way to a healthier state of mind.

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