In this podcast (episode #382) and blog, I talk about how to make your home a mental health haven.
When the world feels like a mess (a common sentiment these days!), it is important that your home is a haven—a place where you can rest, relax, and feel happy. Thankfully, there are many ways we can create a joyful atmosphere at home, including:
1. Intentionally bonding with your loved ones at home. We are made for deep, meaningful connections. When we feel connected and part of a community, we boost our mental resilience and toughness, as well as our mood. As I point out in my book, 101 Ways to Be Less Stressed, meaningful socialization helps us feel happy and at peace within ourselves, balancing the energy in the brain and helping us build up our cognitive resilience. Some ways I love to bond with my family and friends are:
- Walks/exercising together.
- Cooking family meals or baking together.
- Playing board games like Scrabble or Clue, building puzzles or making up Lego sets.
- Watching our favorite movie or TV series (we are big Lord of the Rings fans!).
- Planning and going on trips together.
- Sitting on the floor in each other’s rooms and chatting about life.
- Watching funny videos together.
- Sharing cute pictures of our pets in our group chat.
2. Practicing good mental self-care. Often, we tend to focus on our physical needs, and forget to meet our mental needs! But mental self-care is as important as eating, hydrating and exercising, because we don’t go 3 seconds without thinking! This includes practices like:
- Self-regulation. As a cognitive neuroscientist, I have found that the most effective way to manage unhappiness in the moment and boost my mood is to practice intentional, directed self-regulation. I do this using my Neurocycle mind-management technique, which I discuss in detail in my latest book, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and app Neurocycle. The Neurocycle is a way to harness your thinking power through mind-management that I have developed based on years of research and clinical practice; any task that requires thinking can use it, which means everything can, because you’re always thinking. In fact, this de-stressing, self-regulation technique can really work with any issue, and can be done anywhere, any place and at any time—all you need is you! There are 5 steps in this method:
- Gather: become aware of how you are feeling emotionally and physically and how you are behaving, as well as your perspective and attitude in the moment.
- Reflect: ask, answer and discuss in detail what you gathered awareness of in step 1. Ask questions like “What does this mean?”, “When do I feel this way?”, “Is there a common pattern?”, “How do I experience unhappiness?” and “Why was I triggered?”.
- Write: write down your answers from steps 1 and 2, which will help you organize your thinking and gain more clarity into how you feel and why, so you can take steps to change your thinking and heal what is making you unhappy.
- Recheck: In this step, do what I call a “mental autopsy”. Recheck what you wrote down, looking for thought patterns and triggers, and think about why you feel the way you do and how you can be happier.
- Active Reach. Work out an action for the day based on your recheck step, which will help you practice what you learnt about yourself, such as building more fun into your day to help bring some joy back into your life. Maybe take a long hot bubble bath, bake your favorite dessert or watch your favorite feel-good movie. Allow yourself to have fun and be happy!
- Taking what I call “thinker moments”, where you just let your mind wander and daydream for a few minutes, also helps calm the mind, reboot your thinking and improve your mood. I talked about these in depth on my podcastand in my books Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and Think, Learn, Succeed.
- Brain-building, which involves deep thinking to learn and build memory. This is a great way to boost your mood by exercising your mind. You can do this with any information, whether you are listening to a podcast, watching a documentary or reading a book or article. The goal is to think deeply about the information in chunks and then teach back what you have learned to yourself or a loved one (or even a stuffed toy!). I talk about this in detail in Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess.
3. Bringing the outside in. I am sure by now you have heard of the phrase “plant mom”; these are people that love filling their homes with indoor plants and greenery. But this shouldn’t just be a social media trend. Fresh, living greenery and natural light can have a profoundly positive effect on our mental health, helping us calm down, breathe better and feel more at peace in our living and working environments.
For more on making your home a haven, listen to my podcast (episode #382). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
You can now also join me on Patreon for exclusive, ad-free content! Sign up for a membership level that suits you, and receive access to ad-free exclusive bonus podcasts. These episodes will include more targeted, step-by-step guides for specific mental health issues AND some fun, more personal podcasts about topics like my favorite skincare products and favorite books, as well as live Q&As, fan polls and requests, and exclusive digital downloads!
This podcast is sponsored by:
BetterHelp. One of my resolutions for 2022 is to treat myself like I would my best friend, and one way I am doing this is to spend more time doing the things that make bring me joy, such as walking my two puppies or reading novels in the bath. Therapy is another great way we take care of ourselves. Indeed, you don’t have to be in a crisis mode to benefit from therapy. Therapy can provide preventative and protective strategies, so that when things do get tough, you will know what to do—it is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. And, this month, BetterHelp online therapy wants to remind you that you matter just as much as everyone else does, and therapy is a great way to make sure you show up for yourself! BetterHelp is online therapy that offers video, phone and even live chat sessions with your therapist, so you don’t have to see anyone on camera if you don’t want to. It’s much more affordable than in-person therapy and you can be matched with a therapist in under 48 hours. Visit betterhelp.com/drleaf, and join the over 1,000,000 people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. In fact, so many people have been using BetterHELP that they are recruiting additional counselors in all 50 states! I am proud to say that this podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp, and Cleaning Up the Mental Mess listeners get 10% off their first month at betterhelp.com/drleaf.
Athletic Greens. With ONE, delicious scoop of Athletic Greens, you’re absorbing 75 high-quality vitamins, minerals, whole-food sourced superfoods, probiotics, and adaptogens to help you start your day right. This special blend of ingredients supports your brain, your gut health, your nervous system, your immune system, your energy, recovery, focus, and aging. All the things! To make it easy, Athletic Greens is going to give you a FREE 1 year supply of immune-supporting Vitamin D AND 5 FREE travel packs with your first purchase. All you have to do is visit athleticgreens.com/leaf to take ownership over your health and pick up the ultimate daily nutritional insurance!
Thrive Causemetics. When it comes to our health, everything is connected—even our makeup and skincare. But, with so many choices on the market, it can be hard to know what to buy or wear! This is why I love Thrive Causemetics, high-performance beauty and skin-care products made with clean, skin-loving ingredients. All their products are free of parabens, sulfates, or phthalates, and certified 100% vegan and cruelty-free! Now is a great time to try Thrive Causemetics for yourself! Right now, you can get 15% off your first order when you visit thrivecausemetics.com/DRLEAF.
1:02 Why it is important to make your home a haven
1:40 Finding a healthy work-life balance, especially at home!
2:40, 5:22 The power of bringing nature into your home
6:10 Why natural light is so important
7:15 How a clean environment can positively impact our mental health
8:18, 12:10, 16:40 Why we need to make time to bond with our loved ones at home
17:20 Practicing self-regulation & mind management at home
This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.