3 Simple Forms of Self-Care That Improve Your Mental Health
Guest Blogger from selfcaring.info/
“Self-care” has become a bit of a buzzword of late. It is a major wellness trend, with Shape.com reporting that over half of millennial women had made self-care their main New Year’s resolution for 2018. Because of this, it can be easy to dismiss self-care as nothing more than another fad designed to get people to part with their well-earned money on pampering treatments and aromatherapy candles.
However, this is not the case. Self-care refers to the habits you undertake to improve your health. Most of these are small, overlooked things that you are probably forgetting to do in your daily life, and which cost you nothing. Understanding what these habits are, and how they can benefit your mental health, is the first step towards incorporating self-care into your life.
Getting Enough Sleep
Americans average 6.8 hours of sleep a night, with 40 percent reporting sleeping less than the recommended minimum seven to eight hours. Although this doesn’t seem like a huge difference, it adds up. According to New Scientist, getting just six hours of sleep at night is correlated with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer’s.
Make your sleep a priority. Plan to be in bed, completely ready to sleep, eight hours before your first alarm goes off. Do not look at your phone after this time, as exposure to the type of light used by our technology can keep us from sleeping. Read a book, listen to calming music, or chat with your partner, then go to sleep within the hour.
Taking Time to Relax
This is purposely vague because this means something different to everyone. Some people relax with a hobby, some with a bath, and some with exercise. Whatever winds you down and reduces your stress levels, give yourself time to do it, preferably every day.
There is a caveat to this. If you find you rely on unhealthy behaviors for relaxing, you should try to change the way you approach your downtime. This includes drinking and binge-watching content, which has been linked to sleeplessness, depression, and anxiety. If your go-to relaxation habits leave you feeling worse in the morning, it may be time to phase them out.
Try picking up a creative hobby, which can reduce stress and improve confidence and self-esteem. As well as being calming, the satisfaction of making something — rather than consuming existing content — is a wonderful sensation of achievement and progress. Picking up a new hobby can be particularly good for mental health if you are in addiction recovery, as are alternative ways to relax such as yoga and meditation.
Being helpful is a great quality, but many of us are putting our desire to be liked above our own well-being. Learn no say no, whether it be to extra work you don’t have time for or a party you would rather not go to. More than anything, this is about learning to value your time and setting healthy boundaries for yourself. You need a balance of work, play, and rest. If someone asks you to do something, ask yourself what you would be sacrificing if you said yes. Is it valuable downtime, an evening spent with friends, or your own work? Is this a sacrifice you can afford to make in terms of your health?
Do not apologize excessively, provide detailed excuses, lie, or tell them you’ll “think about it” if you have no intention of doing so. Be honest, firm, and polite, and you will find that most people will be understanding. And those who aren’t? You wouldn’t want to do them any favors anyway.
Don’t think of self-care as an attention-grabbing headline in a magazine. Self-care is a general, all-encompassing term for the actions you purposely take to ensure your well-being. Some of these are obvious, like eating well and going to the gym, but others are often forgotten or neglected. Practicing self-care for mental health is about reconnecting with these smaller habits that put us in a positive state of mind and help us cope with the stresses of daily life.