Take Care of Your Mental Health with These Overlooked Self-Care Practices

on Wed, 15 Aug, 2018

by Sheila Olson

Self-care has become kind of a trendy buzzword. What is supposed to be the simple, proactive prevention of stress and illness has become a multi-billion dollar industry fueled by sheet masks and fizzy bath bombs. The truth is, you can’t buy self-care, and you definitely don’t have to spend a lot of money to see the benefits. Simple daily practices can contribute to improved physical, emotional, and mental health when sustained over time. These simple habits are excellent self-care practices that positively contribute to your mental health.

 

Sleep Well

 

In our get-up-and-go society, sleep is underrated. Even the sitting president brags about only getting three or four hours of sleep at night. However, not catching enough Zzzs means your brain isn’t getting the time it needs to recharge and reset for the next day. Not only do sleep-deprived people have a higher rate of diabetes and heart disease-related higher blood pressure, they are also at risk of developing mood and mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Try the following tips to improve sleep and health.

 

Make your room a sleep-friendly zone. Remove televisions, computers, and any other blue light-emitting screens. Invest in comfortable bedding that regulates your body temperature and keeps you cool throughout the night.

Let your brain wind down an hour before your designated bedtime. Don’t look at emails, social media, or any other communications that can trigger stress. Avoid watching television and instead try reading an enjoyable book to wind down for the night.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try taking a hot bath or shower that raises your body temperature. Then, turn down your air conditioning as soon as you hop out of the bathroom. That sudden drop in body temperature creates a sense of drowsiness that makes it easier to drift off to dreamland.

 

Take a Break

 

We all need to take breaks throughout the day. Unplugging from the world in order to practice a relaxation technique helps you be more productive and in an overall better mood. They can prevent decision fatigue and improve learning abilities overall. Furthermore, people who know when to step away and center themselves are more productive and creative.

 

Create a space in your home designated for meditation. Meditation is an important daily habit of successful people all over the world. Having a special area where you can practice meditation gives you a physical reminded to care for yourself.

Make use of your sick days! Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t call in if you are feeling the effects of occupational burnout.

Incorporating a workout into your schedule is a small break you give yourself every day to take care of your body and mind. Exercise releases feel-good neurotransmitters that reduce stress and improve feelings of well-being.

 

Learn to Say “No”

 

Many of us care so much about other people that we often put ourselves last. However, if you do not care for yourself, no one else will. You are your most important advocate when it comes to both your physical and mental health. While it’s great to lend a helping hand whenever you can, remember that it’s okay to say “no” when appropriate.

 

If you find that you are spreading yourself too thin, don’t be afraid to decline when it comes to the next school fundraiser, putting in overtime at work, or doing anything else you really don’t have to do. Finally, have the courage to tell yourself “no” when you feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts. It’s easy to get down and punish ourselves for our perceived flaws, but we rarely deserve to be that hard on ourselves. If you find yourself in a cycle of self-criticism and abuse, give yourself permission to stop and instead work on self-kindness.

 

Self-care is an important tool for your mental health. From getting enough sleep to giving yourself a break, these small acts contribute to a healthier and happier you. To improve your mental health, start incorporating the practices that feel relevant to your particular situation. 

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