When you think of self-care, you may think of yoga and similar practices that help heal your body. Self-care, however, can also help heal your mind. In fact, the most basic self-care practices you can start all play a role in managing your mental health. From eating healthy foods for your mind to finding ways to relieve tension, here are five self-care steps that provide some serious mental health benefits.
- Establish Better Eating Habits
We all know that the food we eat has a huge impact on our bodies. What many people do not realize, however, is how much food can also affect our mental health. Just like your body, your brain needs fuel to function. Cleaner, more natural diets, like the Mediterranean Diet, can lead to lower levels of depression and anxiety, according to research. But, to take better care of your brain, you just need to be sure to feed it with whole, healthy foods.
Using a meal or grocery delivery service in your local area is the perfect way to fuel your brain—even when your schedule is busy. These options also tend to offer low-calorie meals and snacks, making eating right that much easier. And many of these services are inexpensive; meals can cost as little as $7.99.
- Don’t Feel Bad About Saying “No”
One of the most effective forms of self-care can also be the hardest: saying “no.” In many circumstances, your mental health may depend on you being able to say this little word. We tend to allow our lives to be driven by commitment, but too much can leave you overstressed. Saving space for activities you truly value is not selfish; it’s self-care in its most basic form. Often, the hardest people to say “no” to are friends and family members. We all have that friend who tends to ask too much or a relative who seems to always need cash. Learning how to say “no” to family and friends, without burning bridges, can go a long way in helping you manage your mental health.
- Master Your Sleep Routine
Sleep is another important self-care step that too many adults tend to overlook. The relationship between sleep and mental illness is cyclical. If you are sleep deprived, you are putting yourself at risk for developing some serious mental health issues. On the other hand, if you are dealing with mental health issues already, like anxiety or depression, you may find it difficult to get to sleep at all. Your brain needs rest to function properly, so make sure you use self-care tips that will enhance your sleep. Pick up a book before bedtime to calm anxiety or spend some time in the sun during the day to boost serotonin levels.
- Minimize Your Stress
Mental health and stress go hand-in-hand, and a lot of stress can come from our jobs. One study even found that stressed out workers tend to have higher instances of mental health issues. While many of these issues may have been present beforehand, research clearly shows that high levels of chronic stress make psychological problems much worse. So, make stress relief part of your basic self-care routine. Some self-care activities, such as meditation or exercise, help relieve stress better than others. Try to work a few of these activities into your schedule every day. You want your home to be a stress-free zone as well. Removing clutter and adding some house plants will create a healthier environment. As long as you’re decluttering, call in professionals to do a one-time deep cleaning. Bringing in a cleaning service will generally cost you between $117 – $223 in Los Angeles.
- Create Time to Just Relax
You have to take an active role in your mental health, but sometimes what you really need is to just relax. Relaxation is a simple self-care move that can help you decompress, de-stress, and better deal with any mental health issues. If you need some help figuring out how to relax, research some ways to unwind and give in to our internal cues that we need rest. Spend some quiet time in nature or relax on the couch with your favorite TV program. Just do whatever makes you happy and helps you feel calm.
Self-care is never a selfish practice. Adding even the most basic self-care habits to your life can be a simple way to improve your mental health. So, make time for self-care. Incorporate it into your routine and make it a priority for your mind, emotions, and overall health.