Self-care encompasses every action that you do to ensure your health and well-being. This includes taking care of your body by working out to stay fit or going for regular checkups at your doctor. But self-care for your mental health is just as important, and there are many aspects that are often overlooked.
Getting Enough Sleep
Sleeping is such an intrinsic part of our lives that it can be easy to forget how essential it is to our well-being. As well as being crucial for our bodies, sleep hugely affects our mental health and ability to cope with stressful or upsetting situations.
British scientists have found that insomnia could be a major contributing factor to several mental health disorders. They also found that cognitive behavioral therapy was effective in helping people with insomnia, so you should consider getting help if you find you cannot get to sleep at night.
If your sleeping issues are less severe, one strategy is to set an alarm every night for eight hours before you have to wake up. When it rings, you have one hour to get ready for bed and settle in, no excuses. This will ensure you get the seven hours of sleep that you need to stay healthy.
Taking Time to Relax
According to CNN, Americans are working more hours a year than they used to. We are spending more time than ever at our jobs, and less time doing the things that relax us. It is no wonder that 77 percent of Americans claim they regularly feel the physical effects of stress, and 73 percent experience psychological symptoms. The number one cause? Pressure at work.
One of the most important things you can do for your mental well-being is to make time to relax. Consider what it takes for you to de-stress. Is it taking a long bath, playing an instrument, doing a craft, or spending time outdoors? Whatever it is, plan out time in your day to do this activity, and stick to this schedule. If you feel you don’t have time, consider whether you are spending large amounts of time doing things that are actually making you more stressed, like scrolling through social media. Monitor your stress and eliminate any negative coping strategies that are serving as short-term relief.
Learning to Say “No”
This can be difficult for many people, especially those who place a high amount of importance on what others think of them. Being helpful is a wonderful trait, and one that you should be proud of, but being unable to say “no” can have devastating effects on your mental health. The more you allow people to impose on you, the more they will continue to do so, while remaining ignorant of your boundaries.
According to Lifehack, there are a few ways you can train yourself to say “no” more often. Learn to value your time and to evaluate the emotional, financial, and time cost that something will have before agreeing to do it. Be firm but polite and do not feel guilty if someone then has a negative reaction—that is their problem, not yours.
Practicing self-care for your mental health is essentially about allowing yourself to take a break, whether it be with a relaxing activity or a good night’s sleep. No one can keep up a hectic pace without taking time to restore and refresh. You have to value your time and your well-being, even if it means occasionally putting your needs above those of others. Remember that your mental and emotional health are important and that you deserve to unwind.
About the author
Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created SelfCaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.