Although mental health is more widely recognised, it’s common to overlook this crucial aspect of our lives. Luckily, there are physical and emotional self-care activities to maintain a healthier mental health. Here are 5 proven self-care tips to improve your outlook and manage stress more effectively. Read on to learn ways to prioritise your mental health today.
Prioritising Self-Care for Mental Health
Mental health is not just the absence of mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines mental health as the “emotional, psychological, and social well-being… [that] affects how we think, feel, act, make choices, and relate to others.” It affects your quality of life and overall health.
Self-care’s role in your mental health is all-encompassing in that it helps you better handle life’s stressors, strengthen your body’s ability to fight illnesses, and many more. According to NIMH, “taking the time to do things that help you live well” is fundamental to both your physical health and mental health.
Mental health charity Mind acknowledges as well that self-care routines, coupled with lifestyle modifications, may help manage the symptoms of mental health disorders or even prevent the problems from worsening. However, it underscores that there is no instant solution to mental health problems because they require time and consistent support!
While the self-care tips below may help you, it is still imperative to seek support if you feel that you need professional help.
5 Self-Care Habits
Some self-care routines may help increase your levels of feel-good hormones, such as dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin, thereby increasing your sense of happiness, enhancing your emotional health, and helping improve your mood and your stress response ability. Check out these practical self-care techniques and try to make them part of your daily life routine to help boost your mental health.
1. Have a Good Night’s Sleep
Quality sleep is a powerful self-care routine for better mental health. According to Dr. Matthew Walker, who studied the impact of poor sleep on amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for the body’s response to stressful situations and other perceived threats, sleep works to restore what he calls the emotional brain circuits. With quality sleep, you can better manage your daily stressors the next day. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, affects “the brain mechanisms that regulate key aspects of our mental health," he adds.
The hours of sleep you need will depend on numerous factors, including your age. To have better sleep, here are some tips:
- Set up a sleep routine and stick to it.
- Refrain from watching television or using your gadgets before bed.
- Avoid drinking coffee before bedtime.
- Filter out any noise and keep your bedroom cool and dark.
2. Move More
A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal shows that physical exercise results in improved mental health. To be particular, movement overall, not just working out, is a potent tool not only for reducing your risk of illness but also for maintaining a healthy mind. Psychiatrist Dr Gary Cooney points out that the study looks at activities such as housework, yoga, fishing, and many more, as forms of exercise. Mind adds that any “physical activity releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy.”
3. Eat a Healthy Diet to Nourish Your Mind
In her book titled “This is Your Brain on Food,” Harvard-trained Psychiatrist and Nutrition Expert Dr. Uma Naidoo tackles how a healthy diet can treat and prevent psychological and cognitive health issues. Dr Naidoo believes that food’s impact on our immune system has an effect on mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
For a healthy diet, you may want to:
- Add more fruits, vegetables to your meals.
- Limit your processed food intake.
- Choose water to hydrate yourself over carbonated drinks.
- Talk to a registered dietitian to help you create a healthy meal plan suitable for you.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Citing studies, Mind notes that mindfulness may help you manage common mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. The practice also enables you to better handle your feelings of stress. For mindfulness and meditation tips that will help you build positive emotions, read here.
5. Build Stronger Social Connections
Social connection allows you to build stronger relationships with others, giving you a sense of belongingness and making you feel happier in life. According to Better Health Channel, the benefits of connecting with your like-minded peers include lower rates of anxiety and depression as well as higher self-esteem and greater empathy. Good relationships can also boost your immunity vital to improving your body’s ability to fight diseases for longevity.
To build good relationships, you may consider:
- Spending time with your family and friends as frequently as possible.
- Being part of organisations or groups that cater to your interest.
- Volunteering to help you connect with people who support the same social causes as you.
- Avoiding distractions when with friends so you can give them your full attention.
It's important to take care of your mental health regularly. To improve your mental health, establish a self-care routine that suits your needs. Trying out any of these five strategies, or implementing all of them, can be a great starting point. Additionally, seeking professional assistance and community support can be part of your self-care routine. Always remember that your mental health takes priority and should be attended to regularly.
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