Fort Wellness Counseling

Therapy with Fort Worth Therapists: Building Good Habits and Routines

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Attending therapy with Fort Worth Therapists can help you improve your habits and build healthier routines.  Did you know that building routines and habits are especially important when it comes to improving your mental health? It’s true.  In this article, I’m going to discuss why routines are important to your mental health and emotional well-being.  I’m also going to discuss some healthy habits and some creative ways for you to track your progress.  Lastly, I’m going to give you a tool that you can use when setting goals. 

Routines Are Important for Your Mental Health

Our brain responds to things we do on a consistent basis much more than to those that we do occasionally. This applies to all areas of our lives, and especially our mental health.  Your mental health is closely connected to the routines and habits you implement in your daily life. 

Healthy habits and routines have a positive impact on your emotional well-being. Good habits can lead to improved mental health and positive changes in the brain that can lead to cumulative gains (Bernacer, Lombo, & Murillo, 2015). Exercising, for example, is not just good for your body, but also for your brain and your emotional well-being.

4 Beneficial Habits to Improve Mental Health

But what are some habits that are especially good for your mental health? Below, I have outlined 4 different habits that might be helpful for you to start doing to improve your mental health. 

1. Practice Gratitude

Feeling and expressing gratitude is good for your emotional well-being. It helps you to focus on the positive aspects of your life.  It can also strengthen your relationships with other people. Gratitude is an essential element for your happiness and well-being (Sansone & Sansone, 2010).

Gratitude can help you feel happier and less depressed because it centers your attention on everything that is good and worthy of thankfulness, rather than on those things that need improvement or are seen as flaws. Over time, practicing gratitude helps you see the good and feel more satisfied with your life. In addition to improving symptoms of depression, Gratitude can also help improve symptoms of anxiety. Next, I’ll talk about ways that you an practice gratitude.  

You can practice gratitude in a couple of different ways.  First, keep a gratitude journal and write down what you are grateful for. Secondly, make a point of showing your gratitude to other people. You can do so by sending them cards and letters.  You can also show your appreciation verbally with words and also with gifts. By practicing gratitude, it will change the way you feel and improve your emotional well-being. 

2. Practice Meditation

There is a lot of research that shows meditating is beneficial. The more you practice meditation, the more you will benefit. It’s a good idea to incorporate meditation into your daily life.  Even if it just for a few minutes (Goldstein et al., 2020). You can pick any meditation practice that works for you. For example, mindfulness meditation has been especially well-studied and has shown great results (Goldstein et al., 2020). Next, we will talk about some strategies for how you can practice meditating.  

First thing to know about meditation is this: there is no right or wrong way to meditate. You just need to find a way that is right for you.  Try to focus on something specific, or on absolutely nothing at all.  You can still benefit even if your mind wanders, and you struggle staying focused. Meditation can be practiced with the help of an app.  You can do it during your commute or in any other time that is convenient for you.

Meditation helps you to see improvements in your happiness and mental health.  Just remember, meditation is like a muscle that requires practice. Do it for several days and just try to get 1% better at it each day.  Don’t expect to be a pro after your first session.  

3. Start Journaling

Writing about your feelings, both positive and negative, can also have a positive impact on your mental health (Smyth et al., 2018). Journaling helps you gain a better perspective on your experiences.  It also helps you express your emotions in a healthy way.  Journaling can also help you to discover new things about yourself and improve your self-awareness.

Journaling is easy to implement and accessible for anyone. It is a practice that only takes a short period of time.  Journaling helps you reflect on everything that happened in your day.  This will help ground you and improve your emotional awareness. 

4. Experience Nature

Being outdoors and surrounded by green spaces is a great way to reduce your stress and improve your well-being. You can do it even if you are in the heart of a big city.  Natural spaces can help reduce the levels of cortisol in your body – a physical marker of how much stress you are experiencing (Hunter, Gillespie, & Chen, 2019). Fort Worth and the surrounding area has a lot of areas for you to do this.  If you haven’t already, check out the Fort Worth Nature Center.   

Exposure to nature is especially important for people who live in urban environments. Having plants around and going outdoors for lunch or for a walk can make a big difference in how well you feel during the day.  Surely you have 10 or 15 minutes in your day where you can go outside.  Make it happen.  Buy a small plant and keep care of it.  I have a few in my office and they are in the picture at the top of the article. 

Morning Routines Benefit Your Mental Health

One particular tip to improve your mental health and well-being is by building a stronger morning routine. A routine involves a set of habits that contribute to your happiness and that become easier to implement because they follow each other and connect in a way to maximize well- being. A routine makes each individual habit easier to follow. Some people refer to this as habit stacking because you stack one habit on top of another. 

Why You Should Have a Morning Routine

Why make it a morning routine? There are several reasons. First, morning routines are easier to follow. You have the energy to do it and you are less likely to be interrupted by other people, like roommates or your partner. The morning can provide a peaceful space that belongs to you and that is not tied to other commitments.

Morning routine help you start the day off right. It gives you an advantage because you get the right mindset and helps you to feel a sense of accomplishment. Imagine if you started all of your days off feeling accomplished.  What else would you accomplish throughout your day because you started off on such a good fit.  Morning routines help you take care of yourself.  They also allow you to face the day with energy and positivity (Eversion Wellness, 2015). 

You can make your own morning routine by incorporating the habits that work for you. You might start with a meditation, some exercise, breakfast, reading, journaling, or any other habits that you enjoy and that helps you to feel better. A good tip is to combine different habits that stimulate your mind, your body, and your spiritual self.  This will help the routine to feel more comprehensive and get you energized in various ways.

A short meditation with some journaling, a little exercise, and a nice cup of tea can make a strong combination.   The idea is that you create a routine that works for you and that sustains your well-being.  If you want to learn more about building good habits by reading Atomic Habits by James Clear.  You might be telling yourself that you don’t have time for that or that there isn’t enough time in the day.  Not having time is just another way of saying that it isn’t a big enough priority for you.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  

Be Realistic with Yourself

Another important aspect of morning routines is to make them sustainable. Make it something you can do on a consistent basis and not too hard.  Complicated and difficult patterns set you up for failure. It’s better to start with a single habit and go from there than plan to implement five things and give up after a couple of days. Make sure your goals are realistic and easily attainable. 

A morning routine should not be an unpleasant obligation but a way of taking care of your mental and emotional well-being. It should involve things that are good for you.  It should also involve things that help you feel good. Some habits that are generally positive might not work for you, and that’s OK. Find what works for you.  Play to your strengths. 

The way to implement your morning routine is to make it a habit. Repeat it every day with consistency to get the best results and make sure to follow through. If you must stop it once, that’s fine, but try to retake it the next day. Missing something twice in a row can make you less likely to take it up again. Focus more on the lifestyle that you are hoping to achieve. 

A morning routine is so much easier to implement if you are getting the right amount of sleep. If you have a hard time waking up in the morning, it could be a sign of sleep deprivation. Try to go to bed early so you can rise earlier.  Accomplishing your goals and having good habits is difficult when you are feeling exhausted.  Set yourself up to succeed.  Don’t forget that sleep is one of the basic foundational elements of a good health.

Morning Routines Improve Emotional Well-Being

A morning routine can become an effective way of making your life better and supporting your mental health. It’s a good tool to build in several good habits into your day. You get to develop your routine however you want to maximize your happiness and improve your quality of life. 

Track Your Results – Therapy in Fort Worth, TX

Therapists in Fort Worth help hold you accountable and get support from a trained professional.  You can also use something to hold yourself accountable and track your results objectively.  Use a calendar and circle the days you do it or give yourself a check mark.  Put the calendar on your fridge or in a place that you see multiple times per day.  You can also do things to make sure your goals get done.  For instance, by placing your workout clothes out the night before you go to bed, you are more likely to get the ball rolling and to make it happen when you wake up in the morning.  Or by placing your gratitude journal on your night stand or by the coffee maker.

Making SMART Goals in Counseling

When it comes to making goals in counseling, I’d encourage you to make them SMART.  And by SMART goals, what I mean is making goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.   Here’s some more information on SMART goals:

  • Specific – You need to make sure that your goals are specific. It’s easy to make vague goals.  But they will not get your far.  I’m going to start working out is not nearly as good as I’m going to work out 3 times per week.
  • Measurable – Your goals need to be measurable. They need to be objective.  We need to look at your goal and be able to determine if you accomplished your goal with a simple yes or no.  Make sure that your goals are measurable. 
  • Achievable – It’s important that your goals are achievable. Make sure that you are not setting yourself up to fail.  Losing 100 pounds or running a marathon would be a huge undertaking.  It’s better to break down big goals into smaller goals.  Achieving small goals helps to improve your self-esteem and build momentum. 
  • Relevant – You also need to make sure they are relevant. Relevant to a bigger arching goal that is.  If you are trying to become happier, make a goal that will help you to become happier.  For instance, something that has to do with a gratitude journal or exercise. 
  • Timely or Time Bound – Finally, the timely component. You want to make sure that your goals are time sensitive.  Set a target date for accomplishing your goals.

Wrapping it all together, a good goal would be that I’m going to work out 3 times per week times 30 minutes per day until April 1st, 2022.  Or I’m going to lose 5 pounds and weigh X pounds by April 1st, 2022.  By making SMART goals, you can be more objective and hold yourself accountable.  This will help you thrive and live your best life. 

Therapy with Therapists in Fort Worth to Build Healthy Habits

Did you know that you don’t have to have some emergent issue or extremely pressing problem to attend therapy?  By attending therapy with a therapist in Fort Worth, you can have a way to hold yourself accountable and get some professional support in achieving your goals.  Especially when you are not motivated to do it.  Therapy can be beneficial and help you gain motivation and achieve the results that you are looking for.  Don’t forget. You deserve to thrive. 

Helpful Blog Articles About Therapy by Fort Worth Therapists

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References

Bernacer J, Lombo JA and Murillo JI (2015) Editorial: Habits: plasticity, learning and freedom. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 9:468. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-43263-001

Eversion Wellness. (2015). Rise and Shine: Why Morning Routines Matter and How to Get One. Retrieved from https://www.envisionwellness.co/why-morning-routines-matter/

Goldstein, E., Topitzes, J., Brown, R. L., & Barrett, B. (2020). Mediational pathways of meditation and exercise on mental health and perceived stress: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Health Psychology, 25(12), 1816–1830. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318772608

Hunter MR, Gillespie BW and Chen SY-P (2019) Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers. Front. Psychol. 10:722. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00722/full

Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: the benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township))7(11), 18–22.

Smyth, J. M., Johnson, J. A., Auer, B. J., Lehman, E., Talamo, G., & Sciamanna, C. N. (2018). Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mental health5(4), e11290. https://doi.org/10.2196/11290

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