10 Mental Health Life Hacks for Long-Term Sobriety
Taking care of your mental health is paramount to maintaining long-term sobriety. It can take some time to build up your repertoire of coping mechanisms for managing the hiccups and speed bumps of life, but knowing keeping these 10 mental health life hacks for long-term sobriety in mind can make the path run much smoother.
#1: Taking Medication? Put It in An Obvious Place
There’s no shame in taking medication to help you manage depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders. It can be tempting to want to bypass the meds on good days or even on more challenging ones- but don’t. These medications aren’t cures- the purpose here is to help correct the biochemical aspects of a mental health disorder so that you can focus on learning to manage your symptoms and lead a happier, healthier life. Let them do their job.
If you have a habit of forgetting your medication, you can correct that tendency with a fairly simple life hack: put them in an obvious place. Try putting them next to your alarm clock, tooth brush, or car keys. Set a reminder on your phone to make sure you’re taking them at the same time each day: consistency goes a long way! Just remember: it only takes a few seconds out of your day to help keep you in a good head space.
#2: Keep A Self-Care Journal
Sometimes we get too swept up in all the other things happening in our lives and we neglect to take care of ourselves properly. To combat that, keep a self-care journal. This mental health life hack is about being accountable for taking care of yourself just as you would for other things like work and schooling.
Track your self-care. Write about your bubble baths, your meditation, your crafting project- but more importantly, record why you needed a moment of self-care. These kinds of notes will help remind you that it’s okay to take a moment to yourself and put yourself first for once.
RELATED: Acts of Self-Care: 25 Things to Try
#3: Form a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Sleep is important for maintaining your mental health. Keeping up a regular sleep schedule helps regulate your hormone levels and keep you well-rested and prepared to face the day. Set yourself a bedtime and stick to it- yes, even on the weekends. Doing so helps you stay consistent and on top of your game!
Setting your alarms for the same time also gives you the opportunity to make the most of each day. You can incorporate that time to relax a bit that you keep missing or get a quick workout in. Whenever you have some down time use it to improve yourself, even in the smallest ways. Make the best decisions to get you to the places you want to me.
#4: Use Your Smartphone
You have an amazing mental health life hack in your pocket right now (or you could be using it to read this!) It’s your smartphone- or rather, it’s the apps and websites you can access using them. When you are having a rough day in your recovery or struggling with your mental health, finding inspiration and encouragement through blogs, social media groups, or recovery forums can be just what you need to turn things around.
Follow others who are on this journey with you and build each other up. Download educational ebooks, apps for helping you deal with anxiety, and other useful tools you can use when things get rough. Just For Today and other daily reflection apps are perfect for keeping your focus on recovery.
#5: Make a Gratitude Jar
Sometimes we get too caught up with the negative things that are happening in life, dragging ourselves into a funk. That brings us mental health life hack #5: making a gratitude jar. These little crafting projects are focused on reminding you to find something in each day to be grateful for. While typically you would want to start this on the first day of a new year, you can pick up this life hack at any point!
Grab a simple jar (or any container) and decorate it with little things that make you happy life flowers or ribbon. Be sure to keep a few pieces of scrap paper on hand and, at the end of the day, write down at least one thing that you’re grateful for in that day. It’s okay if you have a few days where all you can be grateful for is the chance to see the day through to the end, but try to find something unique to be thankful for experiencing. Recognize your own strengths and growths in your gratitude jar, too. This is a journey, not a race.
#6: Spend a Little Time in the Sun
The warmth and natural light of our sun is a great natural mood booster and the easiest mental health life hack in this list. Spending a little time in the sun could mean a short walk in the morning or on your porch instead of in the kitchen. If you’re feeling off-center or just a bit down, try opening your blinds and windows for a while or changing your scenery all together. It only takes a few minutes of sun to take advantage of this life hack. Plus it’s free!
#7: Dedicate Daily Time to Wind Down
This one goes hand in hand with setting up a sleep routine. Having a routine for winding down before bed is a fantastic way to keep yourself on track mentally and physically. Start with having dinner at a specific time (great for your physical health overall), then a shower or bath. Write in your journal to recap your day including your emotions and a mental check-in. Being aware of these things is important for recognizing the onset of vulnerable periods and triggers.
Reading at bedtime helps you slow down and relax. Try not to watch TV: the stimulation can actually keep you up and cause insomnia. Try some aromatherapy- but make sure you blow out your candles and incense before you fall asleep. Classical music also calms the nervous system, aiding in getting a restful night sleep.
#8: Choreograph a Mood Boosting Playlist
This one is another fun life hack that is easily accessible. Having a playlist of your favorite, upbeat music that makes you feel good on hand can help you turn yourself around when you feel like things are headed in a negative direction. Music can be powerful in changing your mindset or mood.
Google Play Music has an amazingly choreographed playlists that you can search through based on your mood or activity- check them out! Pop on some energetic music for house cleaning or working out. Try some inspirational, uplifting metaphysical music for relaxing while doing something creative like painting or writing. Create the perfect soundtrack to your new life!
#9: Draw It, Paint It, Write It Out!
Speaking of creativity- use it to express your emotions in a productive way. Some things are easier to express through the arts. Pick up a pen or paintbrush and let it out. Try some freeform painting where the focus is putting your feelings on the paper, not creating a picture. Write an associative list to find the roots of why you’re feeling what you’re feeling.
Getting crafty as a mental health life hack also extends to your favorite hobbies, too! Things like knitting and crocheting are great for helping with anxiety because of their repetitive nature. Focusing on tasks like playing an instrument or sculpting serve as both distractions and mood boosters. Another perk of using the arts to maintain your long-term sobriety? The things you create can easily become gifts for those who love and support you.
RELATED: 15 DIY Therapeutic Craft Projects!
#10: Write Letters to Your Feelings
This last mental health life hack is all about taking back control. When you recognize that emotions are things that you feel but don’t have to be in control of your life, you find the strength to power through them. Being able to say to yourself ‘yes, I am feeling anxious, but I will not let it dominate me’ is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.
Write to your feelings to identify their roots; it’s a much more positive and beneficial use of your focus and energy. Viewing your emotions as a personification makes it easy to take it on and overcome.
Which of these 10 mental health life hacks are you going to incorporate into your life? Comment below!
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.