Personally, I’ve never paid a ton of attention to my own mental health, chalking up any stress I feel from work/relationships/life as just part of adulting.
But with the holidays approaching, it reminded me to take a moment and think about what I was doing to support my mental health (I guess that’s the point of observing Emotional Wellness Month, huh?)—and TBH it wasn’t much. Juggling family responsibilities, household chores, and my regular 9-to-5 job plus a side hustle left plenty of opportunity for my mental wellness to get pushed to the bottom of my to-do list.
In hopes of moving it to the top, I decided to dedicate an entire month to prioritizing my mental health. My first action item? Downloading the Breethe app.
One of the most personalized mental wellness and meditation apps out there, Breethe serves up just-for-you support and tools (right to your fingertips) to help you face your stressed and anxious feelings with the playful real talk you'd expect of a BFF, paired with the expertise of a really great therapist or coach.
"With a combination of both immediate symptom-relieving tools (we want you to feel better right now!), as well as longer-term, habit-building support, Breethe helps to alleviate what’s bothering you in the moment (think, can’t sleep), but also helps to address the underlying root cause of your anxiety or stress (why you can’t sleep)," says Lynne Goldberg, Breethe’s co-founder and lead meditation teacher.
In my case, it happened to be the ideal companion to help me prioritize my mental health with some serious stress-busting self care, thanks to curated practices and meditations for stress. Scroll down to learn the essential tips I learned along the way that were total game-changers for my wellness routine, and to score a two-week free trial of Breethe in honor of World Mental Health Day.
Here's what I learned from dedicating a month to doing meditations for stress, plus a handy checklist to help you get started with your own personalized self-care routine.
Be realistic about your schedule
At the onset of my month of prioritizing my mental health, finding the time to focus on my happiness and well-being was a struggle with my busy schedule.
I was tempted to start with meditating 30 minutes every morning, but since I am totally not a morning person, I had to learn to let go of unrealistic expectations and tell myself it's okay to do what you can, when you can.
With the “Customize My Day” feature, Breethe helped me sneak in a few minutes of self care as I went about my day. You can choose from several different activities, such as starting the day, doing chores, working out, or falling asleep.
By setting the times when you typically do those activities, the app recommends what support would serve you best at that specific time. This "self-care on my schedule" approach meant less time scrolling through the app to find the track I was in the mood for, and more time de-stressing.
“When it comes to mental health and well-being, there is no one-size-fits-all approach,” Goldberg says. “Breethe is personalized for you and your needs. We like to think of ourselves as the mental wellness app that cares about you and truly understands you.”
I was having trouble sleeping and work has been super busy lately, so I set my two wellness goals in the app (there’s over 40 to choose from) as “Fall Asleep” and “Manage Work Stress.” Since the app is designed to help figure out the why behind my sleep struggles or anxious feelings, all I had to do was answer a few quick and easy questions rooted in behavioral science, and instant support was delivered.
Breethe shared personalized recommendations in real-time—including meditation, hypnotherapy sessions, sound and music therapy, as well as helpful talks—that not only addressed what I was struggling with in the moment, but also guided me in reaching my long-term goals.
By addressing my work stress, I started getting better sleep—and better sleep meant I felt less overwhelmed during the day—a win-win, if you ask me.
Start small when building habits
I’ve set out to meditate regularly before and failed. This time, my routine was sticking—and there’s a reason why. According to Goldberg—who would definitely know—when it comes to self care and meditations for stress, it’s okay to start small. Even five to 10 minutes a day can offer incredible health benefits, and that’s exactly why Breethe has several short and simple practices, like the “Two-Minute Stress Reliever” and “Five-Minute Anxiety” meditations, to easily get you started.
Similar to learning a new language, consistency is more important than session length. “Brief yet consistent sessions are better for your brain’s overall health than long meditations every once in a while,” says Goldberg. Her point in a nutshell? Slow and steady (or in this case, small and steady) wins the well-being race.
Even on my busiest days I can't pretend I don't have at least two minutes to spend on my phone—and I've been surprised at what an impact just a few minutes of relaxing self care can have on my day.
Enjoy your progress
The last of Goldberg's tips for using meditations for stress (and TBH, probably the one I struggled with the most prior to using Breethe): Keeping track of my wins—instead of my losses, aka the days I forget.
The app counts the hours and consecutive days you use it—which totally motivates me to keep my streak going—and it also sends friendly reminders to my phone, in case I get busy one day and forget.
I’m about two weeks in so far, and it’s making an even bigger difference than I expected: I’m sleeping better and feeling way less stressed overall. Something tells me this 30-day pact might just turn into a lifelong routine.
Want to try Breethe for yourself? Click here to score a two-week free trial now, in honor of World Mental Health Day.
Top photos: Breethe and Getty Images/Westend61; Graphics: Well+Good Creative
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