I recently discovered that January is the most common month for depression. Many people call it “the Monday of Months.” You might ask yourself, “Isn’t this the month when everyone starts fresh and sets goals and aspirations for the upcoming year?” Well, yes, it is! It is also the month when most of the United States is experiencing colder temperatures and realizing how much weight they’ve gained post-holiday. It is also when many people receive their statements for their Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza/Dia de Los Reyes shopping. With financial burdens, weight gain, and frigid temperatures combined, it can make the perfect concoction for the winter blues.

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As a mother, full-time employee, grad student, and podcaster/business owner, I, too, have thrown myself into projects to ignore my emotional well-being. I’ve found that by distracting myself with projects, there is never time to slow down. Mental well-being is a journey. Each of us has to figure out the path to take to be in tune with our mind, body, heart, and soul. 

Here are a few things I’ve done to show self-love and work on my mental well-being post-holiday and beyond.

1. Have a daily practice

Every person has different needs and schedules. When I commit to a routine at some point in my day, I am less stressed and have more energy. Most self-help gurus swear by morning routines. That is awesome if you can wake up at 5am, work out, and meditate. My schedule changes daily, so having consistent practices I can do as I see fit works best for me. I am determined daily to work out and learn something new (via book or Ted Talk), whether in the early hours of the morning or mid-day. I am committed to planning my day and journaling my gratitude with my Panda Planner.

2. Move your body at least 30 minutes a day.

I once heard that you change your mind when you move your body, and I believe it! When I first moved to Texas from Florida, I got out of the habit of working out daily. I noticed an increase in depressed and anxious feelings. Through my training, I saw significant improvement in my mindset. I ended up signing up to run the Honolulu Marathon at the end of 2022. My go-to now is Apple Fitness+. Their dance workouts are fire, and they just started a kickboxing series. Hiking is also a new family favorite activity, and there are amazing hikes around Austin.

3. Get in tune with your spirituality. 

Whether you believe in a religion or not, it’s crucial you take time to check in with your soul. Whether you pray, meditate, stretch, or go on a nature walk, this is a sure way to help you reconnect to your humanity. I use the 10 Percent Happier app for mediation for myself. My kids love the Sada series. We often use the Surfing and Sunflower meditations for bedtime, and the kids pass out in minutes. Which gives me more quiet time at the end of my night.

4. Therapy, baby!

The human experience is built like a roller coaster. There are ups, downs, spins, and twirls. Some adventures bring joy to our faces, others tears. We all have trauma we need to unpack. I started my therapy journey in 2020 during the pandemic. I was navigating COVID’s impact on educating my kids and my work environment. On top of moving. I also never profoundly reflected on the struggles I had in my life and how they impacted me. The tornado of life completely stopped during 2020, and I had time to recognize that my baggage was heavy. I signed up for Better Help, and it has been magic. I have also signed up my oldest son for Sonder Mind. We prefer virtual, but there are so many options out there. Therapy has helped our entire family talk through our feelings and needs and not let the scary loops of life run the show.

5. Learning the difference between self-love and self-care

Getting my hair and nails done for the longest time checked the box for self-care. On my podcast, I interviewed a life coach named Tiffany. She helped me realize that my version of self-care only helped me improve my external appearance. I lacked a practice for self-love. Pre-Tiffany, I would look at all my imperfections any time I passed a mirror. I would wish my post-kids body matched my 19-year-old collegiate physique. I am currently working through decades of body shaming from cheerleading, gymnastics, and just being a woman on planet earth. Nearly 98% of women have had an “I hate my body” moment. I am committed in 2023 to embracing every nook and cranny of my miracle, baby-making temple. Some of my self-love practices include:

  • Reading books and consuming content that’s uplifting.
  • I set daily affirmations that inspire me.
  • I respect the chapter I am in.

When I look in the mirror, I see the tummy that brought 4 kids into the world. I see the breasts that gave them nourishment. I see the wrinkles and moles from all the laughter and joy I’ve experienced from traveling this beautiful planet. Every day I choose to embrace my imperfections and love myself a little more.

Though we have a few months more of winter in Austin, we know the weather will be inconsistent. One day it’s 80 degrees; the next, our windshields are frosted. However, we have the power to bring consistency to our lives through our choices. I am committed to improving my mental wellness, and I hope these 5 tips help inspire you to improve yours.


Do you have another best practice? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Zana Carbajal
Zana is wife to Esteban and mama to her four children, Joaquin, Teodoro, and twins Roma & Rosalind. She is a Senior Retail Technology Manager and Co-host of The Strong Sunflowers & Los Girasoles Fuertes podcasts. She was a competitive cheerleader at Hawaii Pacific University, where she pursued her Bachelor’s in Public Relations and Advertising. She is currently working on an online Master’s in Global Strategic Communications from The University of Florida (Go Gators!) She advocates for whole-hearted living and constantly looks for ways to improve her mind, body, heart, and soul. She loves songwriting, singing, and musical theatre and has already warned her kids when they are all over 18+; she is moving to New York City to audition for Broadway.


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