One of the reasons I love weekends so much – besides the fact I can sleep until noon, stay in pajamas all day and work on personal projects – is because I get to take a break from most responsibilities and just focus on taking care of myself and my mental health.
Here’s a list of 19 things you can do to improve your mental health and take care of yourself.
Therapy has taught me to appreciate and value meditation a bit more, and it’s one of my go-to activities after a stressful day at work. Personally, I prefer using YouTube videos for guided meditation, but there are also plenty of apps out there (such as Headspace or Calm) that do the same.
Start a diary
One of the things that my mental health benefits most from, is writing down my feelings and thoughts. It makes it so much easier to understand where my anxiety is coming from, and writing my worries down on paper gets them out of my head. You can buy a diary, download printables, or use an app like Evernote to keep track of your thoughts.
Take a long bath
Living in an apartment that only has a shower, I miss this so much. Back when I lived with my parents, I used to take a long bath every Sunday, accompanied by relaxing music, something to drink and bath products.
List your strengths
Once in a while, it can be useful to write down everything you’re good at. Whatever your strengths are, write them down. All of them. Every skill is useful and something to be proud of, and you’ll quickly come to realize you’re better at so much more than you thought. Keep the list and re-read it whenever you feel bad.
Write down everything you love about yourself
Similar to writing down all your strengths, write down everything you love about yourself. You can either make a list of everything, say it out loud, write a love letter to yourself, use my self-love printable or use a self-love journal.
Yoga is one of my favorite ways to relax during the weekends. It’s enough exercise to give me a sense of accomplishment after finishing the session, yet not too intense to make me feel exhausted.
Clean your desk
Whenever I start feeling anxious at home, I declutter my desk and living room. Burned up candles are thrown out, that cup of tea I had in the morning gets cleaned and put back on the shelf, and old to-do lists go straight to the trash. And having a clean apartment is one less thing to worry about or be annoyed over.
Take the day off
Take the day off. Do nothing. Just relax. After a busy week at work, I love relaxing and just not having to worry about anything. Not doing anything at all is a great form of self-care as well, in my opinion.
Talk to someone about your feelings
Whether it’s a therapist, a friend, partner or random stranger on the internet, talking about your feelings can feel so great. If you usually keep to yourself this can be scary at first, but it’s ok to take baby steps.
Going for a walk won’t fix all your mental health related problems, but getting fresh air and sunlight is a great way to relax and clear your head. If you don’t feel comfortable going in public, having your breakfast in the garden instead of staying inside can do wonders already.
I love making art, not only is it a great way to relax, it also allows me to express my feelings in a different way. Making a collage about my mental health can be so much easier, yet just as effective, as talking about it.
Go out eating
Not having to worry about making food (and cleaning up afterward) feels really great, so going to my favorite restaurant is a great way to eliminate extra worries and stress.
Plan the next month
Setting off some time to get organized can prevent a lot of stress in the future, and you can actually save a lot of time by planning things in advance.
Make a list of things you’re grateful for
At the end of each day, I list a couple of things I was grateful for. There are a lot of gratitude journals out there to guide you with this, or you can just say it out loud to yourself or a friend. I often do this exercise together with my boyfriend, as it also strengthens our relationship.
Share your mental health journey with others
Blogging has helped me manage my anxiety so much better and has taught me to accept the ‘weirder’ parts about myself. It’s such a great way to connect with others, and I can actually help other people, which makes me feel incredibly good.
Set realistic goals, but don’t beat your self up if you didn’t accomplish them all in time. Every step you take, no matter how small, is an accomplishment and one step closer to achieving your goals.
Go to a spa
Spa’s can be expensive, so it’s not something I do every week. But I love setting off a day that’s entirely focused on self-care and relaxation, and once every couple of months I pay a visit to the local spa. There’s no better way to treat yourself than getting a massage, relaxing in different saunas and enjoying a nice cup of tea by the pool, if you ask me.
Book a therapy appointment
If you think therapy can benefit you, or if you just want to give it a try at some point, make an appointment and just go for it. Depending on where you live the waiting list might be long (although I got an appointment within a couple of weeks), but at least you took the first step already.
Take a break from social media, answering emails, working and binge watching your favorite Netflix show, and go completely offline. Go to a spa, rent a cabin, start a new art project or hang out with friends. Just take a little break from everything that’s going on online.