elf-care can take many forms, but at its most basic level, it entails taking care of yourself physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Taking care of your mental health may not be as straightforward as meeting your bodily demands for food, hydration, and sleep. It may also include incorporating practices that we consider enjoyable, fun, and relaxing. For most individuals, simple actions that maintain our physical health can have a substantial, positive impact on our mental health. However, finding a personal definition and means of self-care can truly support our physical and psychological health.
Many contributing factors to mental health conditions, such as high-stress levels, can be managed with self-care strategies and basic lifestyle adjustments. These practices may also help prevent some issues from developing or getting worse. Self-care relies on increased self-awareness, which allows you to recognize patterns in your emotions, triggers, and circumstances that bring you pleasure and are necessary for your well-being. The following are some considerations to take into account when incorporating self-care practices into your daily routine:
- Identify the activities that matter to you. Start by asking yourself what things are valuable to you. Your responses will help you determine your approach to life. Maintaining a clear understanding of your priorities will assist you in making decisions about how you spend your time and which activities bring you fun and relaxation.
- Change your mindset. We tend to focus on the negative aspects of life while overlooking and underappreciating the positive ones. Set aside time to meditate and remain in the present. Research in positive psychology has shown that adopting a gratitude mindset can help you develop resilience and experience more positive emotions (Ackerman, 2022).
- Prioritize sleep and rest. Healthy sleep habits allow your body to get rest and renew. Sleep deprivation interrupts your circadian rhythm, or biological cycle, which negatively impacts your physical and mental health. Thus, you should regularly practice sleep habits that fulfill your body’s needs for repose.
- Exercise regularly. Our bodies and minds are connected; thus, physical activity and mental health are intertwined. Regular exercise can improve our mood and energy levels while also reducing stress levels, anxiety, and depression (APA, 2020). Aim to incorporate daily physical activities, such as outdoor walks or playing sports, that allow you to exercise while performing something enjoyable.
- Incorporate healthy eating habits. Nutrition and self-care go hand-in-hand. Maintaining healthy eating habits ensures you give your body the nourishment it needs to function adequately. Proper nutrition also plays a vital role in mental health and is the critical foundation of good physical health.
Other practices that you can integrate into your daily living include talking with trusted friends and loved ones, reading, journaling, and practicing old or new hobbies. Studies have shown that self-care strategies can help you be more productive, creative, and confident (Hall, 2020). Moreover, adopting self-care tips can improve your mood, allowing you to experience more joy, make better decisions, and communicate more effectively. How self-care looks for you will depend on what you enjoy, your energy levels, personality, schedule, and other lifestyle factors. Regardless of how and what you decide to incorporate, aim to practice self-care daily. Keep in mind that you ought to treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping-because you are.
Ackerman, C.E. (2022). 28 benefits of gratitude & most significant findings. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/
American Psychological Association [APA]. Working out boosts brain health. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/exercise-fitness/stress
Hall, J. (2020). Self-care isn’t just good for you- it’s also good for productivity. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2020/01/05/self-care-isnt-just-good-for-you-its-also-good-for-your-productivity/?sh=1d03df8019ff