By now, most of us know how to take care of our bodies, at least in theory. We are aware of which foods are good for our hearts; which workouts are good for our muscles, and which vitamins to take for our immune systems. But, what about our mental health?
Here are three often-overlooked ways in which we can practice self-care to improve our mental well-being and resilience.
These Self Care Tips Are Boost Your Mental Health
1. Sleeping Well
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our mental health. Sleep allows us to process the day and prepare for the next. Without it, we are likely to feel tired, anxious and sad.
But according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the relationship between sleep and mental health is even more complicated. Lack of sleep is both a cause of mental illness and a symptom of it, making it difficult to establish what the root problem is. Either way, you can help yourself by creating a comfortable environment for an optimal night’s sleep.
Start with your bed: Your mattress can make a huge difference. Buying a new mattress doesn’t have to break the bank. There are full-sized options available that cost less than a king- or queen-sized mattresses. Full-sized mattresses come in several construction types including memory foam, innerspring and latex to suit your level of comfort.
2. Learn To Relax
According to a report by the American Psychological Association, 75 percent of Americans have experienced at least one symptom of stress in the past month, with the most common being nervousness, anxiety, anger, and fatigue. Additionally, 3 in 4 of all doctor’s visits are due to a stress-related ailment, and stress is believed to cause a reduction in brain matter that can cause long-term psychiatric problems.
Stress management involves small, daily habits like good sleep, diet, and exercise, but it is also heavily influenced by our ability to unwind. Most of us think we have a grasp on relaxation, but if this were the case, we wouldn’t be dealing with our current stress epidemic. Think about what you do to de-stress: how much of it makes you feel genuinely satisfied and relaxed?
The average American spends 24 hours a week online – one full day. A huge portion of this is social media, binge-watching content and reading news, all of which have been linked to anxiety, depression, and stress. If you are spending most of your downtime doing these activities, you need to re-evaluate whether you are getting valuable downtime.
Consider implementing new, healthier ways of relaxing and de-stressing. This can be things such as yoga and mindfulness meditation, but it can also be engaging with a beloved hobby, learning a new skill, reading, cooking, or spending time in nature.
3. Being Kind To Yourself
Self-care is eating, sleeping and exercising well, but it’s also more than that. It’s self-love, self-compassion, and self-acceptance. It’s learning to praise yourself for your successes, learn from your failures and forgive yourself for disappointments. According to Live Science, self-compassion may be the most important life skill we can learn.
Being kind to yourself can also sometimes mean disappointing someone else. Most of us worry so much about being helpful too – and liked by – others that we don’t consider whether we are harming ourselves in the process. Learn to say no to requests that are likely to cause you upset or anxiety – the people around you may not be happy at first, but they should understand. If they don’t, you probably shouldn’t have been doing them any favors anyway.
Self-care is the accumulation of all the behaviors we undertake to improve our health. Most of us tend to think of this in a literal, physical sense: exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet and getting regular check-ups at the doctor.
These things are all incredibly important and beneficial to our minds as well as our bodies. However, it is equally important to identify the less obvious forms of self-care, the small kindnesses we do to ourselves to help us feel good. Learning about these is as essential as learning about nutrition or cardiovascular health and incorporating them into your life is the best way to give your mental health the attention it deserves.