Caring for Your Mental Health

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Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, act, make choices, and relate to others.

Mental health is more than the absence of a mental illness—it’s essential to your overall health and quality of life.

Self-care is important, and yet it’s something that we often forget to do. We are so busy taking care of others that we neglect to take care of ourselves.

But if we don’t take care of ourselves, then we won’t be able to take care of others. So what is self-care? Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.

For your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even minor acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.

So how can you make self-care a part of your daily routine? Here are some tips:

👉Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. Small amounts of exercise add up, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do 30 minutes at one time.

👉Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks or coffee.

👉Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.

👉Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy, such as journaling.

👉Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you felt like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished, not what you could not do.

👉Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night, or replay them in your mind.

👉Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.

👉Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.

Self-care looks different for everyone, and it is important to find what you need and enjoy. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you.

In addition, although self-care is not a cure for mental illnesses, understanding what causes or triggers your mild symptoms and what coping techniques work for you can help manage your mental health.

For other ideas for healthy practices for your mind, body, surroundings, and relationships, see the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Wellness Toolkits.

We all know that feeling when something goes wrong and everything starts to feel like it’s crashing down around us. It feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders and we’re just trying to keep our heads above water.

In times like these, it’s so important to remember to take care of ourselves. When we’re caught up in the whirlwind of life, it’s easy to forget to eat healthy, exercise, or even just take a few minutes for ourselves.

But if we don’t make taking care of ourselves a priority, then we’re more likely to crumble under the pressure when things get tough.

So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and focus on taking care of yourself. It might not seem like much, but it can make all the difference in the world.

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