Self-Care Improves Mental Health
Paying attention to your physical health and recognizing emotional patterns are self-care techniques that mental health professionals recommend to help improve mental health.
Let’s examine how you can use common self-care techniques to live life to the fullest.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is the practice of preserving your physical, emotional and mental well-being and protecting yourself from the harmful effects of chronic states of mind or body stress. Self-care can be used alone but also combines with medication and therapy to significant effect.
The application of self-care is different for everyone. For some, it’s a day of physical pampering, while it’s a walk on the beach for others—or a good, long workout for still others. One person may think spending time alone is the best way to practice self-care, while another may look to socialize in a group.
Self-care also doesn’t have to be expensive—it’s not regular trips to a spa or salon or purchasing things. In fact, a self-care routine is more likely to become a lifelong habit when it’s free and easy to practice every day, no matter where you are.
While self-care acts may all seem like physical activities, the truth is that their power is in how they stimulate (or recharge) you psychologically and emotionally–helping improve your holistic well-being and mental health. The key is being mindful of your individual needs and doing things you love to relax, recharge, gain strength and focus. When you feel calm, rested and positive, your mental health improves.
Improving Mental Health with Self-Care Techniques
Caring for yourself will mean different things for different people, and if you’ve been ignoring your own needs for a while, it may take you some time to identify the methods that bring you peace and positivity.
Here are a few everyday therapeutic activities and lifestyle changes that mental health professionals know boost mental health. Experiment and find the ones that work best for you!
There are various ways to squeeze a workout into your daily routine, ranging from a session at the local gym (or in your home gym) to a walk around the neighborhood.
Exercise provides physical benefits such as weight management and increased energy, but it also offers plenty of mental benefits. Physical activity is scientifically proven to boost mood, decrease stress, increase self-esteem and improve sleep. Exercise also stimulates neurogenesis, creating new brain cells and boosting brain performance and mental energy.
The key is to identify the activities you enjoy so you’ll do them regularly.
Did you know that what you eat affects your hormone balance and the health of your brain? When you fuel yourself with healthy meals, you feel positive and empowered, knowing that you’re treating your body right. Chemically processed foods that are high in trans fats, artificial ingredients, refined carbs and sugar pose many health risks, including inflammation that negatively impacts your brain health.
Diet impacts mental health because the quality of nutrition affects brain function and digestive health. Therefore, eating a diet rich in nutrients can improve how your brain transmits signals and balances the gut microbiome–both of which contribute to your mental well-being.
Many people have unknown food sensitivities that can cause your body chronic distress; an elimination diet can help identify any foods that are not serving your physical and mental health.
Aiming for a specific number of hours asleep is not enough; the quality of your sleep matters too. Sufficient deep sleep has restorative functions that contribute to emotion regulation and helps your brain clear toxins. On the flip side, sleep problems like insomnia can adversely affect mood, potentially triggering mania or depression in people with mood disorders.
Setting up your bedroom to promote deep, restful sleep is one way to care for yourself. As is establishing patterns that help you winddown before bed and keeping a consistent routine.
Relax and recharge
Relaxation techniques like meditation and massage slow the heart rate and breathing, lowering blood pressure and production of stress hormones. Because relaxing also increases blood flow and reduces muscle tension, the after-effects include feelings of invigoration. And the more recharged you feel, the clearer your thoughts and the more awareness you have of your emotions.
You don’t have to pay for a massage, either. Self-massage and even dry brushing of the skin have beneficial effects on stress and mood.
Being proactive about engaging in self-care activities can be a preventive measure for mental health issues. But if you feel that you can no longer handle your emotions on your own, it may be time to seek the help of a mental health professional.
Communicare is here for you. Please take a look at our services and don’t hesitate to contact us! You can call our 24-hourCrisis Line at any time for anyone experiencing substance abuse, mental health, or IDD crisis: 866-837-7521.