As we become more aware of the importance of good self-care, we are also learning more about how our mental health affects our overall well-being. However, in an age where we are being bombarded with self-care advice from companies, friends, and influencers on social media, how do we know which is the best solution?
As it turns out, the simplest solutions are the most effective. You do not need a complex, expensive, over-the-top self-care routine to take care of your mental health. You only need a handful of healthy habits that keep both your body and mind working well and feeling good.
4 Self-Care Habits For Good Mental Health
#1 Exercise Regularly
It is unfortunate that many people only think of exercise as a way to achieve their desired body. Even those who focus on the other physical benefits of a fitness routine are missing out on a key component of why exercise is good for you.
The relationship between exercise and mental health is well-proven. For one, it reduces stress by conditioning your body’s production of cortisol — the stress hormone, which is generated during physical exertion — to be less sensitive. Regular exercise has also been shown to help with depression, being as effective as antidepressants in some cases.
#2 Eat a Balanced Diet
Your diet has a huge effect on your mental health. According to the Conversation, many mental health conditions are caused by an inflammation in the brain that originates in the gut. A lack of certain nutrients, which are difficult to come by in a diet of heavily processed, high-sugar foods, can have a direct effect on the health of our brains.
This also extends to the bacterial microbiome in your gut. For example, a probiotic called bifidobacterium longum has a direct effect on emotional well-being and brain health. Getting to know your microbiome is a good way to learn what supplements or foods you should be adding to (or removing from) your diet.
#3 Make Time to Relax
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the US, with 18.1 percent of Americans being diagnosed with one. For those who suffer from anxiety at this level, making time for relaxation is one of the most important coping mechanisms you can develop.
Even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder, stress can take a toll on your mental well-being, so you need to keep it under control. Schedule relaxation time every day, even if it’s just 20 minutes of meditating, going for a short hike, or doing a relaxing hobby. Learn how to say “no” when you feel overwhelmed or overworked and to give yourself room to destress.
#4 Get Eight Hours Of Sleep
The importance of good sleep hygiene cannot be overestimated. When you consider how much time of your life you spend sleeping and how crucial this time is for your mental well-being, it becomes clear that we should all be focusing on building healthy bedtime habits.
You need to be getting between seven and eight hours every night, preferably with the same schedule — yes, even on weekends. If you are regularly getting less than this, then you are putting your physical and mental health at peril and also making it harder for yourself to make good choices in other areas of your life.
Finally, make it a habit to regularly take stock of your mental health. This could simply be a matter or journaling your moods and emotions regularly or catching up with a friend. You could look into talking to a therapist, even if you have not been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. This helps you identify your mental health triggers and allows you to make any necessary adjustments to your life, creating a good basis for your self-care regimen.
Maintaining good self-care habits might sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. With a little planning, you can make time to protect your mental and physical health.