The Los Angeles alt pop artist offers her favorite ways to de-stress and re-center to wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but practicing mindfulness and taking care of yourself is important all year long. Check out these tips from Zosia to cap off the month, and be sure to share what you learn with your friends and family to spread the love!
Disclaimer: I haven’t had any formal training in mental health, but this is what I’ve learned after years of battling with mental health issues. I hope you find something useful in this list. And if you have any tips that have changed your life, I’d love to hear about them!
Everyone can benefit from talking with a therapist. Someone neutral who won’t judge. Someone whose only purpose is to help you feel better. I’ve seen a few therapists, and I didn’t love the vibe of the first two. I thought therapy would always feel uncomfortable. But my current therapist is so easy to talk to, and I have no qualms about seeing her. It’s all about finding the right fit, and sometimes it takes a few tries.
I know therapy can be super expensive. If your insurance plan doesn’t cover it, check out the links below or look into an online service like BetterHelp.
You may benefit from medication. I started taking pills for my mood disorder a few years ago and it completely changed my life. It took a few trials to find the right prescription, but once I did it reduced my anxiety almost immediately and has helped me manage my depression. For years I thought maybe I should be on medication, but I put it off. You don’t have to wait until you reach a breaking point like I did. Sometimes all you need is a low dose. Don’t let anyone else’s judgement prevent you from looking into it.
Art can be amazing therapy. Writing songs helps me understand and deal with my emotions. Sometimes I’ll just mess around on the piano and sing whatever comes to mind, like verbal journaling. Creative projects can shed light on subconscious thoughts, ease your anxiety, and give you a boost of dopamine. You don’t have to be a skilled artist to experiment with music, drawing, dancing, or other creative outlets. Essential Art Therapy Exercises by Leah Guzman is a great book to start with. I also recommend the podcast Unleash Your Inner Creative with Lauren LoGrasso.
Practice some mindfulness techniques. There was a time when meditation was a lifeline for me. I went to meditation groups for a while, and that environment always lifted my mood. I regularly do breathing exercises because they only take a few seconds and are so effective at lowering stress and anxiety. Taking just a few deep belly breaths can signal your nervous system to lower your heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol. YouTube and the Insight Timer app are my go-tos for guided breathing exercises. When I have panic attacks I search ‘guided meditation for panic attacks’ on YouTube. Those videos are lifesavers! I also find it helpful to say or write down three things that I’m grateful for. It’s a good habit to get into.
Read insightful books. I’ve read a few books that really improved my mindset. I recommend The Power of Now by Eckhard Tolle, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Conscious by Annaka Harris, and Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana.
Listen to calming music. My favorite is piano music or lofi beats, especially ones with rain in the background (again, YouTube!). It might also help to listen to musicians who are open about their own mental illness; artists like Halsey, Lucidious, Billie Eilish, Daughter, Until the Ribbon Breaks, and Lana Del Rey to name a few.
Get outside. Sometimes just going on a walk or changing my scenery can begin to lift my mood. If you’re up for it, exercise is great for your mental health. Get some sun or use a full spectrum light (especially if you have seasonal affective disorder). I use one when it gets overcast.
Spend time with animals. I don’t have a pet, so I love to visit with my brother’s dog, Dakota. The joy in his greeting is so infectious. Being around with animals lowers cortisol and boosts oxytocin which gives you feelings of love and comfort. If you don’t have a pet around, you could volunteer at a shelter.
Check out Zosia’s EP Symptoms of Nature below, and take care of yourself and your circle!