Self-care is an essential step to maintaining good mental health. Taking small steps every day to look after your emotional, physical, and mental health will improve your quality of life and ensure you are also able to look after your loved ones. From reducing stress to engaging in hobbies, there are many ways to practice personal maintenance in your everyday life. The following outlines some strategies for incorporating self-care in your daily routine.
A good way to start your practice of self-care is by ensuring you’re getting enough sleep. Sleep is a fundamental part of a healthy life. After all, no one can function at their best if they’re drowsy. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. A way to get enough sleep is by practicing good sleep hygiene. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, making sure your bedroom is quiet, not using your phone or watching TV in bed, getting some exercise during the day, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime will improve your sleep. As well, if you need an afternoon pick-me-up, instead of grabbing a coffee, a quick 15 to 20 minute nap can also leave you refreshed and ready to face the rest of the day.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
Diet and sleep are two of the most basic and fundamental parts of maintaining good mental and physical health. A diet primarily consisting of whole foods, such as vegetables, fruit, and legumes, reduces your risk of many diseases (including diabetes), makes your body feel good, and can improve your mental state. If a total diet overhaul is intimidating, try making small changes one at a time. For instance, start by having an extra portion of veggies at each meal for a week, drinking more water, or forgoing a certain unhealthy treat for a period of time. For added convenience, sign up for a meal delivery service, many of which offer light options that can help you maintain and lose weight while eating a healthy diet.
When you’re stressed, self-care is often the last thing on your mind. However, hitting pause can help you deal with and reduce stress. Long-term stress can lead to lower immunity levels, digestive difficulties, or mental health problems, such as depression. For those with mental health issues or for those in addiction recovery, reducing stress and paying attention to self-care is especially important, and self-care practices are often included as part of holistic treatment programs.
A simple step to de-stress is to take a moment for yourself to read, take a bubble bath, make a nice meal, go for a walk in nature, or practice another activity which makes you relaxed and happy. You might also consider picking up a healthy new hobby, such as meditation, yoga, or jogging, which can be especially beneficial for those recovering from an addiction.
Saying “no” to demands which you are currently unable to deal with is another excellent way of reducing stress. Setting boundaries is important for healthy relationships and frees you up to do things that are truly important to you. Saying “no” is difficult, whether it’s to a colleague, a partner, a sibling, or a parent. However, putting yourself first is sometimes the best thing you can do for those around you. When you are nourished and happy, you will be better able to extend yourself to others.
The specific self-care techniques that work for you may not be the same as those that work for someone else. However, starting with the basics – from getting enough sleep to saying “no” to excessive demands – there are many ways you can incorporate self-care into your daily routine. By following the steps above, you will be well on your way to building healthy habits which will support your mental health. Best of luck on your journey!