With mental health challenges rising during the pandemic, identifying and implementing positive self-care strategies is more critical than ever. These include sleeping well, eating nutritious foods, and avoiding negative self-talk.
Sleep problems are linked to mental health; sleep deprivation and mental distress can interfere with sleeping well. It’s important to recognize and respond to signs of emotional distress early on and to take steps to manage stressors before they build up.
The best self-care practices include activities that leave you feeling relaxed and energized. Whether it’s a warm shower, taking a walk outside, or enjoying a delicious meal prepared by someone else, incorporating self-care into your daily routine can make all the difference.
According to experts like Dr. Jason Campbell, emotional self-care can include healthy ways to express and process feelings like anger, anxiety, stress, and sadness. It can also involve developing strategies to help you avoid triggers that cause you to feel uncomfortable. For example, finding a trusted support system or regularly practicing mindful meditation can be helpful.
It’s hardly news that moderate exercise is good for your physical health, but researchers are also starting to understand why it’s important for mental health. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with cardiovascular fitness or muscular strength, which are slightly more obvious. Instead, it seems that exercise changes the brain’s function.
It may even reduce the number of “bad days” people experience monthly. While it’s not a cure for depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, it’s a powerful ally for those with mild symptoms. Of course, self-care looks different for everyone. It could be as simple as making your bed in the morning or stepping outside for fresh air. It’s about establishing routines that help you feel calm and relaxed.
Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, you must socialize daily. Studies show that connection is vital for mental health and that even the smallest forms of social interaction can help reduce stress.
For example, if you are an introvert and find that agreeing to everything your friends or family ask of you can cause you to feel overwhelmed, learning to say no might be an important aspect of your self-care routine. Socialization can also boost mental health by improving brain function and activating genes that increase immunity and lower inflammation.
However, it is important to note that self-care looks different for everyone and may take a lot of trial and error before you discover what is right for you.
How we nourish our bodies is directly connected to how we feel emotionally and mentally. Studies have found that eating a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of depression and anxiety disorders. It can also boost energy levels and improve cognitive functioning. These positive effects can be achieved by consuming the right nutrients in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. While the correlation between nutrition and mental health should not be used to support automatic assumptions or stigmatization, individuals must stay aware of their dietary choices and how they affect their mood.
Spiritual self-care includes any activity that encourages mental stimulation and provides an outlet for one’s beliefs. This can be as simple as trying a hobby or learning something new.
Many people who experience mental health issues turn to their faith for comfort and support. Research suggests that being a part of a religious or spiritual community may help with stress, depression, and anxiety. It can also increase hope and optimism.
Research also shows that those who regularly attend church or religious services have lower rates of suicide, substance abuse, and depression. However, more research needs to be done to understand how religion and spirituality can benefit mental health. People with mental health concerns should talk to their therapists about including their spirituality in their treatment plan.