Planting the Seeds for a Happier and Healthier Future

Woman hugging dog outdoors for a happier healthier future - Vitality

Some things take time and taking care of your mental wellness is no different! While it can sometimes feel like an uphill climb to overcome negative thoughts or patterns, taking small steps to plant the seeds for a healthier tomorrow can help to jumpstart your journey to feeling mentally refreshed. Ready to start planting the seeds for sustainable habits? Give these activities a try.

Get a good night’s rest
Feeling like you woke up on ‘the wrong side of the bed’ can set the tone for a restless day ahead. Not getting enough sleep, feeling anxious about an upcoming deadline, or extended scrolling on your phone before bed can ultimately leave you hitting the snooze button in the morning.

  • If you’re used to going to bed later at night, try starting small by committing to an earlier bedtime for a few days out of the week.
  • Too many thoughts running through your head at night? Try incorporating relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine. Whether it’s stretching or tidying up before bed, finding peace of mind at night can lead to more restful sleep and a better start to your day.
  • Endlessly scrolling on social media at night can make it difficult to fall asleep. If you find yourself scrolling a bit too much at night, try putting away your electronic devices an hour before bed.
  • Vitality Members: Enabling Vitality’s Sleep Well cycle for 30-days consecutively can also earn you points for limiting the use of electronics too close to bedtime.

Step outside
Getting a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery can help break up your day and improve your mood. If you’re feeling stagnant after a full day of meetings or if you could benefit from stretching your legs, spending time outdoors can boost your energy and leave you feeling accomplished and refreshed.

  • Grab your headphones on your way outside and put on your favorite podcast or album. The right soundtrack can make your ‘me time’ feel even more valuable.
  • Having a destination in mind can help motivate you to put on your walking shoes. If you tend to lean towards planned activities, map the path to your favorite park or new coffee shop in the area.
  • Vitality Members: Tracking your steps can be a great motivator to be more active and can earn you Vitality Points for doing so! Use your fitness device or compatible fitness app on your smartphone on your walk and see your Points add up to a higher Vitality Status and a healthier tomorrow.

Start your day with mindfulness
It can be easy to put your mornings on autopilot – wake up, get ready, go to work; but when you don’t have enough time for yourself in the morning, it can feel like the day is gone before you know it. We understand that it’s not always possible to create time for yourself – especially if you’re taking care of a family or working an early shift – but if you have the capacity to create a routine, try incorporating one or more of the following tips into your mornings:

  • Don’t reach for your pho­ne right after turning off your alarm. Instead, try leaving your phone on your nightstand while you go about the first parts of your morning routine like brushing your teeth or making a cup of coffee.
  • Eating a balanced breakfast benefits both your mental and physical health. While it may not always be easy or feasible to cook your own meals every morning, prepping your breakfast in advance can help take away some of the in-the-moment stress of your morning routine.
  • Incorporating movement into your morning helps to get your blood flowing and muscles warmed up for the day ahead. Stretching regularly can also positively impact your mobility and posture, especially if your job requires you to spend most of your day at a desk.
  • Vitality members: starting your day with meditation can also earn you Vitality Points! Just be sure to use a compatible meditation app like Calm or the Breathe app on your Apple Watch.

Try something new
So often we see other people doing activities and think to ourselves, ‘I wish I could do that.’ Financial, physical, and mental barriers may give you pause when pursuing new hobbies or experiences, but don’t let the fear of not being an immediate expert stop you before you start.

  • Think about the things in life that really bring you joy – maybe it’s running, cooking, or taking care of your plants.
  • Once you’ve given more thought to the kinds of activities that make you happy, try to find a community of people with common interests. Whether it be virtual or in-person, spending time with people who enjoy the same activities as you do is sure to boost your mood.
  • Create a bucket list of activities you’d like to try in the future and check things off as you go. There are no deadlines on adventures, so take your time and stop to smell the flowers along the way.
  • Vitality Members: Set a new Vitality Goal to help keep you on track! Checking into your goal once a week can earn you Vitality Points and help you keep your new activity top of mind.

Consider your financial wellness
Financial stress can have a serious impact on your mental wellbeing. Finances are nuanced and differ from person to person, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed and aren’t sure where to start, try these tips:

  • Track your spending to better understand how much money you’re earning, how much you’re spending, and where you’re spending it. This will allow you to assess your financial standing and where you can make improvements.
  • Once you’ve looked at your expenses, create attainable but ambitious goals for the future. Whether it’s contributing to a savings or retirement account or incrementally working to pay your debts, knowing where you’re headed and creating a plan for getting there will help you achieve your goals.
  • Trends come and go quickly these days. Treating yourself is important but feeling constantly influenced into buying the next best thing can lead to overconsumption. Try taking a break from social media accounts that make you want to reach for your wallet.

Seek help with a treatment plan
Mental illness is isolating and can make you feel like you don’t know who to turn to, even if you have a caring support system. Seeking help may be scary at first but talking about your experiences with a professional can give you the tools you need to create a long-term management plan.

  • Feeling anxiety about seeking help? Write down your concerns and bring them with you to your appointment – this will ensure that you don’t forget about anything you wanted to discuss with your doctor.
  • Always remember that you’re not alone. Asking for help when you need it is a pivotal step in your journey and can be an important part of treating your mental illness.
  • If you need immediate help and aren’t sure where to find it, use these free and confidential helplines recommended by the CDC to connect with a trained mental health professional.

Making lifestyle changes starts by taking small steps toward your goals, nurturing the seeds you’ve planted, and celebrating your victories no matter how small. Don’t get overwhelmed by making too many changes at once or feeling like there’s no room for mistakes! Go for a slow and steady approach and remember that starting small can still lead to big results.

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