Like your physical health, no one else can take better care of your mental health than yourself. Drop the idea that you can just “get over” your mental health problems. Taking care of your mind takes effort and is done through a mix of physical and mental activities that work to promote good health overall.
Below are some self-care tips you can employ to improve your mental health.
Take care of your body
Just as poor mental health can cause physical sickness, bad physical health can negatively affect the mind. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep will improve your mood and overall health. Avoiding alcohol, smoking, and drugs may make you feel good at the present, but they will do more damage in the long run.
Being free of illness means your mind will be subjected to less stress and allow you to have a more positive outlook in life.
Cope with stress the right way
Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it isn’t insurmountable. By learning good coping skills, you can minimize the adverse effects of stress on your mind and body. Know what stresses you the most and learn to handle them. Need to destress while on your period? Get a massage, drink tea, and avoid alcohol.
Stressed out from work? Start managing your responsibilities. Create a to-do list or a weekly schedule. When you tackle them in an orderly manner, they will be more manageable and less stressful. It’s vital to deal with your problems one by one, instead of all at once. This way, you can tackle them without being overwhelmed.
If you find yourself stressed out, don’t keep pushing yourself. Take a step back from work and resort to activities that calm your mind and let you release stress. Activities such as a walk in the park, cuddling with your pet, keeping a journal, and short meditation can help a lot.
Spice up your routine
Having a routine, especially a routine that is nourishing and motivating, is beneficial to your health. However, keeping the same routine for a long time can get monotonous and tedious. You can make your routine more interesting by doing some things differently. You don’t have to alter your schedule completely; you can jog at a different park, try a new restaurant, take a different path to work, and make other small changes that break the monotony.
Bask in the sunlight
Staying all the time indoors deprives you of the beneficial vitamin D of the sun. If you get exposed to sunlight on your way to work, that’s great. But if you work from home, you should allocate time to take a walk outside to bask in the sun and get vitamin D that will help your brain release mood-lifting chemicals like serotonin.
The ideal daily exposure to sunlight is 30 minutes to 2 hours, but you can hide under shade when your skin gets hot. You can wear sunglasses or apply sunblock to protect your eyes and skin.
Invest time for leisure
Just because you’re not working doesn’t mean you’re wasting time. Allocating time in your routine to do the things you enjoy can help release a lot of stress and put your mind away from problems and other worries in life.
Engaging in leisure activities that keep the mind occupied breaks the cycle of overthinking and allows it to rest, preparing to deal with the sources of stress.
Being realistic doesn’t have to be synonymous with negativity. Setting realistic goals saves you from unnecessary frustration. When you have too lofty or far-fetched goals, you’re most likely to take it harder when you experience failure. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, so you can manage your expectations.
A realistic goal doesn’t need to be unambitious. Aim high, but break it down into smaller goals and steps. You’ll feel accomplished every time you get through a stage and feel good seeing your progress towards your goal.
Lend a hand to others
Helping other people, even without conditions, helps you as well. Helping friends, relatives, or even strangers in need will make you feel better about yourself and reinforce the feeling of belongingness to a community. Volunteering to help the needy will help with your self-esteem and allow you to meet new people.
Get professional help
Seeking help is also a form of self-care. When you can’t handle the stress anymore and start having anxiety and panic attacks, it’s time to contact a counsellor or doctor. In truth, you don’t even need to be suffering from mental health problems to seek therapy. Anyone, even those who are mentally well, can benefit from it.
When you decide to get therapy, keep in mind that it may not work right away. Also, understand that no one way works for everyone. You may have a negative experience with your first therapist, but that doesn’t mean it will be the same for others.
Lastly, know that bettering your mental health will require effort from yourself, not only from your counsellor.
Cliche but true. How can you expect your mental health to improve if you’re your own hater? Aside from taking care of your body, being kind to yourself mentally is also a way to love yourself. Treat yourself with respect and avoid criticizing yourself too much; there are already a lot of critics out there. When you love yourself, you start doing what’s good for you, which ultimately leads to a healthier mind and body.
The benefits of self-care go far beyond better physical and mental health. When you do good on yourself, you become a better person — a better friend, family, and community member.