Keeping it together when times are "normal" is already a task in itself. When we find ourselves in times like these, when we're dealing with pandemics, school is about to start, work is uncertain, and economic challenges are code red, keeping yourself mentally strong feels like being in the advanced class of life that we may or may not have signed up for.

For so long we've casually nodded at the recommendations to take care of ourselves, but it's no longer an option. The world feels a bit out of control for many East Texans and we're struggling to keep our heads above water.

Yet the world goes on. And it's up to us to keep ourselves strong. Great, another challenge. The upside? When the world is out of control, it's comforting to know that we do have some control over our own little corner of the universe. AND when things do settle, perhaps we've learned some new habits that will serve us well.

Here's a few ways to keep your mental edge so you can walk strong and be at your best during difficult times:

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Make sure sleep is a priority. Hah--this is coming from someone who struggles with insomnia anyway. But, if we take it seriously and take the proper steps, we can make it easier to get the healing rest we need. On average, humans need between 7 and 9 hours each night. Some more than others.

Please eat things that are nourishing to your body. Although sometimes it feels that way, food is not primarily entertainment. What you choose to put in your body has an immense effect on your mood and energy levels. Notice how after one two many junk food meals you're exhausted after you eat?

Move your body everyday. Even just a little. So, maybe you don't have time to exercise and stretch for two hours every day. That's okay. Even just 30 minutes, done consistently, is a game-changer. Not just for your body, but for your mental health, too. Remember, they're all connected.

Learn to clear your mind. Building new habits are hard. The good news is, we CAN. Our minds are incredibly adaptable. It may take a bit of time, but it's worth it. Here's an exercise you can do to clear your mind of the worries that are mentally exhausting you. Take out a sheet of paper and write it all down--all of the things, however small, that are worrying you. If these things keep you up at night, knowing you've written it down will free you and calm you so you can get the sleep you need, knowing you don't need to worry about forgetting anything.

Simple enough? It is, but believe me, I understand that doesn't mean it's easy. But these are habits worth building, will improve your life tremendously, and give you the strength you need and that mental edge that's so important--especially right now.