Work, family, finances, and other parts of your life can become overwhelming at times if you don’t take time out for self-care. This type of prolonged stress can negatively impact your mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, irritability, sleep problems, social isolation, and a number of other issues. Many of us don’t take time to care for ourselves as much as we should. Practicing self-care enriches your coping skills, energy levels, and an overall sense of well-being. Let’s take a look at some of the self-care strategies that work.
Regular physical activity can help eliminate stress because exercise increases endorphin production in the brain. Endorphins are neurochemicals that boost your mood and general feeling of well-being. If you exercise regularly, you’ll find yourself feeling less stressed out, as well as more confident and focused.
When busy and stressed, many of us skip meals or eat on the run. Make a conscious effort to feed your body properly, which in turn feeds your mind. According to Psychology Today, a diet rich in fatty fish, leafy greens, whole grains, and lean proteins can boost cognitive function and reduce symptoms of some mental health disorders.
Insomnia and sleep deprivation are linked to ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. Harvard Health Publishing explains this works in both directions as these conditions can lead to and also be exacerbated by a lack of sleep. Avoid caffeine, electronics, and exercise in the evening, which can all keep you up at night. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature and free of distractions to try to improve both sleep quality and quantity.
Always make time for downtime to allow yourself to relax and decompress. It’s not selfish to take time out for yourself. You can’t be a help to others if you aren’t healthy yourself. Do something that helps you relax, whether that means meditating, reading a book, or binge-watching your favorite shows.
The pressure to attend every social event, volunteer for every cause, and take on extra projects at work is tremendous. However, for your own mental health, you should say “No” when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, or don’t have the capacity or time to do. Don’t feel guilty about turning down things. Guilt is just another negative feeling that can affect your mental health.
Build a Support System
Everyone needs at least one close confidante they can trust. Having a good support system around you when you are stressed is essential. You don’t need someone who can solve your problems as much as you need someone who will spend time with you, listen to you vent, and love you unconditionally.
Journal about your Feelings
For many people, writing down their feelings and experiences can be very beneficial for their mental well-being. Keeping a journal about your daily life can help you identify stressors, get in touch with your feelings, and release negative emotions. Choose something inspirational that you look forward to using every day.
Ask for Help
Making lifestyle changes can make a big difference for some people when it comes to reducing stress and improving mental health. However, for others, emotional and mental issues persist. When you need help, reach out to a professional. A psychologist or other therapist can help you develop a plan to reinforce your self-care habits and also provide further treatment that you need.
Although you can’t remove every worry or stress in your life, you can manage your mental health. By practicing self-care you can reduce your stress levels and improve both your physical and mental health. Take steps to take better care of yourself, because you’re worth it!
“Self-care” Illustrations by Paru Ramesh