As most of us are coping with the drastic changes in the world, I felt that it was important to highlight simple ways to improve upon mental health. In this blog post, I will discuss mental self-care practices that you can use to care for your mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical wellness and it's time that we start treating mental self-care like the gift it is. Some of these strategies are more simple than others and some might be more difficult depending on where you are in your mental self-care journey. However, each one has a good chance of providing mental relief if done regularly!
The mental self-care practices I recommend below are things that have helped me, and may also help you.
Meditate: Even if you don't know how to meditate, there is a meditation app for you! There's Headspace and Calm, but my personal favorite is Insight Timer, which offers over 50 different types of guided meditations from experienced teachers around the globe. Insight Timer currently claims to be the most popular app in the World for meditation, sleep, anxiety, and mindfulness. As one of the number 1 FREE meditation apps you'll find over 100,000 guided meditations and discussion groups to choose from. I love this app because it provides easy and affordable mental health care for those who may not have insurance.
Journal: Setting aside time to journal at least once a day is an excellent mental self-care practice and can be very cathartic for many people. If you need some help getting started, try one of these free journals: The Five Minute Journal or Journey; both are available as apps too! Personally, I prefer the old fashion method of putting pen to paper. There is something incredibly therapeutic about decluttering your mind by getting your thoughts out of your head. Journaling helps to increase self-awareness by enabling you to actually see your thought process. Journaling is one way of practicing mental health because it helps reduce the negative effects on mental well-being by making people feel more in control over their lives.
Read: This mental self-care practice is important for those who may have a difficult time finding the energy to read. If you are someone with mental illness, reading can be an excellent way to escape and feel relief from your symptoms as well as learn about mental health issues.
Yoga: One of the best mental self-care practices is trying yoga for yourself! This ancient tradition has been known to dramatically increase mental health and well-being by promoting a sense of peace, relaxation, and stability in one's mental state. You do not have to be flexible or an expert to begin practicing yoga. An easy way to get started is to simply stretch your body as it feels natural. Be mindful of the areas of your body where you may feel pain or tension. Your focus should be on releasing any stagnant energy and facilitating the flow of new energy through your body.
Physical Upkeep: I know this sounds super cliche but it is super important that you keep your cup full. One of the most noticeable signs of depression is forgetting or forgoing general upkeep. Taking care of yourself physically is a key part of maintaining mental wellness. Being mindful of what you are consuming both physically and figuratively can make a huge difference in how you feel from day to day.
Mental Check Ins: Check in with yourself and what you need to do for mental health today. You may think that this is a no-brainer but try taking ten minutes before bed or just during the day when you have time on hand, close your eyes and ask "How am I feeling? What can I do to make myself feel more at ease?". Be mindful and aware of what is happening in the present moment. I have started meditating a few times per week lately to help with my mental health and it has made an incredible difference for me. It's hard not to notice how much more at ease, less anxious, less irritable, and calm I am when I am meditating regularly.
Setting a Schedule: A lot of mental relief can come from simply setting and maintaining a schedule. I find that adding structure to my days reduces my anxiety and makes me feel a lot more productive. If you are anything like me then it might be necessary for you to schedule breaks from work. It is important to add rest to your regular schedule if you want to work at optimal levels. Like my therapist says, "The work will still be there when you get back".
Exercise: I'll be the first to admit that my mental health has been worse when exercise is not a regular priority. By exercising, you can reduce your anxiety and stress levels. Exercise also releases endorphins which help make us feel happier too! It's important for our mental well-being to get out of bed every day, even for just 15 minutes, in order to move around and put ourselves back on track with fitness goals. If you need a quick start, I would suggest checking out my "10 Step Summer Body Workout".
Positive Self-talk: Never underestimate the power of self-talk on the mind. Just as the age-old saying suggests, "I think therefore I am". It's important to take mental inventory and monitor your words, as they can either be the cause of mental illness or a pathway back from mental distress. So talk to yourself as you would want someone to talk to you. Use kind and encouraging words. Give yourself compliments from time to time. You have to be your own biggest fan!
Challenge Yourself: Mental self-care doesn't need to be daunting. Mental self-care doesn't have to require a lot of time and energy on your part. Challenging yourself to do something new can be a fantastic way of exercising your mental faculties and can help increase your focus. Try searching for different activities that are outside of what you usually do - perhaps taking public transportation or enrolling in an unfamiliar activity.
Remember, self-care isn't selfish! Taking care of yourself is the first step to taking care of those around you: through good relationships, supportive communities, and joyful work. The people around us will feel less worried about what struggles might be affecting us internally when we make self-care priority number one in our own lives.
These are just a few suggestions that you can use to begin or continue along your mental health journey. Following best practices for mental self-care is an important part of taking care of your mental health. If you aren't feeling well and notice that your mood is off, take some time to figure out the root cause and work on strategies to manage it before it becomes a bigger problem.
Mental health is not something many people talk about, but it’s important for everyone to take proactive steps towards a healthy headspace. That’s why I wanted to share 10 different ways you can care for your mental self today and every day. Let me know what your favorite act of self-care is below in the comments!