Updated: May 14, 2020
Positive Ways to Improve Mental Health Using Self-Care
Self-care is often mistaken for selfishness, but it is anything but. You cannot help anyone unless you help yourself first. Self-care is about being able to take care of yourself and keep your mental health in check so that you can function at your best. Also, practising self-care on a day-to-day basis has been proven to reduce stress and make you feel better. Check out three basic ways to incorporate self-care below.
Master the Basics
Your physical health has a direct correlation with your mental health. A poor diet, not exercising, and lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your entire well-being. Focus on eating a well-balanced diet of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. When exercising, incorporate a balance of aerobic exercise and strength training throughout the week. Although the amount of sleep required varies from person to person, Time states that the average adult needs about seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
Not only will your body weight and immune system improve, but good physical health leads to reduced stress, more energy, decreased depression, and stronger focus.
Slim Your To-Do List
In today’s culture, it is not uncommon to be over-scheduled and over-stressed. Society expects us to say yes to everything, whether that’s every party we’re invited to or taking more than we should at work. However, this can quickly lead to a burnout. It’s okay to say no to things. Practice recognising what causes you stress. This will let you either avoid triggers when possible. However, when these triggers are unavoidable, be prepared to cope with them.
Learn your limits, and make sure you do not surpass them. Your boss will respect you for not taking on more than you can handle, and it’s okay to say no to a night out if you want to stay home and watch TV instead. If you have to, do not be afraid to schedule time for yourself on your calendar. Taking the time to do something you enjoy, such as like drawing, knitting, or reading, is perfectly fine. Spending time with yourself is healthy and can keep you from getting overwhelmed.
Though meditation can seem intimidating, there is really no wrong way to do it. The idea is not to empty your mind or let your thoughts wander, but instead to pay attention to the present moment. When your mind does begin to wander, pause and slowly bring yourself back to the present. Just five to 10 minutes of meditation a day can improve your ability to cope with emotions, increase your social connection and emotional intelligence, improve self-control, and give you a healthy perspective of yourself. These benefits are especially important for those suffering from depression, high stress, or drug addiction. In fact, many people have discovered that combining meditation with yoga has done wonders for their mental health and and contributed positively to their recovery. There are also many hobbies, such as gardening and sewing, that have relaxing, meditative effects.
If you are just starting to build up practice, the New York times recommends trying guided meditations first. It is also a smart idea to try to create a meditation space in your home to encourage you. Pick a room you enjoy being in and create a soothing atmosphere. Try adding touches of nature, such as smooth stones or plants, and keep the area uncluttered.
It’s Okay to Indulge
Building a healthy lifestyle and habits is not always easy. However, you are still allowed to eat that slice of cake or a day off from the gym or take on more work because you’re eyeing that promotion. The important thing is that you do not allow these moments to become normal -- let them be the exception.
Do not be afraid to put yourself first. You’ll be happier and healthier for it.