On the surface, self-care is simply defined as taking care of yourself. In actuality, it encompasses much more than that. It isn’t just about canceling plans to have one night for yourself, it’s about setting boundaries for yourself mentally, physically, and socially. This helps us to avoid becoming overwhelmed and burnt out. It’s important to take a holistic approach by thinking about your body, mind, and social environment.
We’ve put together some tips to help you make the most out of practicing self-care. If you have a serious mental health condition, it is critical to continue with your provider’s current treatment plan (medication, therapy, etc.). These tips can help complement that plan on your healing journey.
Get proper rest
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health. It’s crucial to get the proper amount of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can increase anxiety, depression, worsen other mental health conditions, and inhibit brain function. Stick to a bedtime routine to help you get proper rest.
In order for your brain to function properly and stay healthy, it’s important to eat well and stay hydrated. Eat a balanced diet and be sure to get a variety of fruits and vegetables. Pass on processed foods as much as you can, as they can be detrimental to good health. A great way to stick to a balanced diet is to meal prep. Choose a day of the week to grocery shop and prepare meals ahead of time; this way, when things get busy, you won’t neglect your body. By eating healthy and drinking plenty of water, you will benefit your body both physically and mentally.
It’s important to stick to a consistent exercise routine, as exercise has numerous health benefits. Exercise can increase your concentration and energy, better your sleep, boost self-esteem, and keep your brain and vital organs healthy. Staying active and exercising regularly not only has many positive physical health outcomes, but it can greatly benefit your overall mental health as well. Even if it’s as simple as going for a midday walk, make time to get moving.
Keep up on healthcare appointments
It’s important to stay up-to-date on appointments with your medical providers. This will not only keep your physical health in check but also your mental health. There can be significant anxiety surrounding health conditions, so be sure to keep any preventative healthcare appointments.
Often, we can be too hard on ourselves, and one of the most important aspects of self-care is to be kind and forgive ourselves. Stop overthinking the past and ruminating on things that are outside of your control.
It’s common to shame ourselves for not being where we envisioned in our careers/life or feeling guilty for canceling plans. When this happens, remember that self-criticism causes more harm than good. Ask yourself, “Would I talk to my friends or loved ones, and be as hard on them, as I am to myself?” Usually, the answer is no. We have more compassion for others than we do for ourselves, and that needs to change for better overall mental health.
Spend time with pets
Pets can greatly improve our daily lives. They offer unconditional love and companionship and can be extremely beneficial for our self-care. Particularly dogs, as they can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety, and can even lower blood pressure. It has been revealed that many people who suffer from disorders, such as PTSD, have benefited from working daily with animals.
Stress can take a physical and mental toll on one’s health. By practicing self-care and taking time for ourselves, we can greatly reduce the amount of stress that we feel. Ask yourself what you need and what makes you happy. Stick to a routine, talk with loved ones, avoid unhealthy habits (for example, alcohol, increased screen time), and try some additional tips to cope with stress. This will help with your overall mental and physical health.
Schedule a massage or try acupuncture
Massage therapy and acupuncture are both great options for relieving stress and treating chronic pain. They can help improve emotional and mental well-being and ease symptoms associated with specific mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Take time to practice mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness, or the ability to be fully present in the moment, can have many health benefits. Including the practice of mindfulness in your daily routine can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as increase levels of focus, happiness, and better sleep. There are various techniques that can be utilized, but all will greatly benefit your mental health. If you’re interested in learning more on the subject, you can check out our previous blog post here.
Yoga has many health benefits, from reducing chronic pain to increasing flexibility. Not only does it have the many physical benefits of exercise, but it’s wonderful for your emotional well-being as well. Yoga can increase self-compassion by teaching you that you deserve kindness, love, and happiness, just as much as anyone else.
Read a book
There are many health benefits from reading books regularly. Studies have found that just 30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of stress. Reading has also been found to increase a person’s ability to empathize, heightening the ability to understand the feelings and beliefs of others. Reading books can also help alleviate symptoms of depression, prepare you for a good night of sleep, and help to prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Don’t feel bad about saying “no”
It can be extremely difficult to learn how to say “no” to others. Often, we feel obligated to say “yes” when someone asks for our time or energy. We feel a sense of guilt or shame if we turn someone down, even if we truly don’t feel up to something. If you’re already stressed or overworked, saying yes to loved ones or coworkers can lead to burnout, anxiety, and irritability. Although it may take practice, once you learn how to politely turn someone down, you’ll feel more confident, and you’ll have more time for self-care.
Nurture relationships that positively influence your life
Close personal connections contribute significantly to overall well-being. Surround yourself with people who positively add to your energy level, instead of those who bring you down.
Although it can be uncomfortable, it’s critical to accept that some relationships are not good for us. Do you have friendships that may have once worked, but now feel difficult and draining? It’s best to let go of these relationships, as they have a tendency to not only drain our energy but also increase anxiety. It’s important to preserve your energy and happiness, even if that means cutting people out of your life. If you can’t completely part ways from a negative person in your life, then it’s necessary to develop coping skills. Remember that your mental health comes first.
Volunteer your time
Remember to help others. It can be easy to get wrapped up in our own struggles and forget to see the needs of those around us. Volunteering your time will help you see the bigger picture of life and help to clear your mind.
Rid your home of clutter
Let go of material and emotional clutter. This will not only reduce stress but allow you to focus on what’s truly important to you.
Invest in yourself
Have you been wanting to learn something new (take a baking class, photography, try a new sport, etc.)? Maybe you’ve been wanting to go back to school and earn a degree, start a business, or begin writing a book. Now is the time to give yourself the chance to achieve your goals! There is no time like the present.
Be open to trying new things
It can be easy, especially during difficult times, to become complacent and too comfortable with your routine. Remember to take time each week to push yourself and try new things, as this will greatly benefit your mental health, and you will feel a sense of accomplishment. Try that new class, explore a new place, take a different route to work, the options are endless!
In short, self-care is extremely important for better overall mental and physical health. Research suggests that the more we practice self-care activities, the more confident, creative, and productive we are. We also experience more joy, make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively.
Are you struggling with your mental health? Our team of highly trained professionals is here to help guide you. From coaching to therapy or medication, we can help you find the proper treatment plan and offer the support that you need. Contact us today to learn more at 877.538.5425.