Taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. Good mental health not only makes you feel better but it also boosts your physical health. Check out this list we’ve put together of nine self care tips to keep your mind healthy and happy.
1. Get Enough Sleep
If there’s one thing that will make you feel terrible even if you are otherwise healthy, it’s a lack of sleep.
Nearly one-third of Americans are sleep-deprived.
Getting enough sleep (seven to eight hours for most adults and nine to ten hours for most teens) can improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also gives you a clearer view on whatever is happening in your life. Improve your sleep hygiene and get to bed at a reasonable hour. If you’re having trouble sleeping, see your doctor; there are lifestyle and medical options available.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
Just as healthy foods are good for your body, they’re also good for your mind. Eating regularly helps prevent the blood sugar dips that cause irritability, a phenomenon often referred to as “being hangry.” Focusing on the right foods (fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and lean sources of protein) also helps you avoid mood-busting vitamin deficiencies and can even make you feel more optimistic about the future. Several mental health illnesses have been linked to diet. If you aren’t sure what to eat or if you have any underlying health conditions, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist for advice.
3. Get Enough Exercise
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week.
Exercise helps your cardiovascular health and whittles your waistline. It also helps improve your mental health. Getting out and going for a run or taking a Zumba class just might stave off mild symptoms of depression or anxiety. Just squeezing 10 minutes of exercise into your morning and evening routines can make a difference. If you’re not able to dedicate that must time to exercising, there are little things you can do throughout your day to exercise. For example, you could park at the back of the parking lot when you go to the grocery store.
4. Journal Regularly
Your thoughts might be running rampant through your mind, making you feel blah at best. One way to engage in self care is to take control of these thoughts by writing them down. Journaling is a great way to get your thoughts on paper, where you can deal with them later. It helps reduce stress, clarifies your thoughts, and can allow you to solve your problems more efficiently. Journaling can even help you mend relationships with others and know yourself better.
5. Practice Gratitude
Taking the time to be grateful for what you have can put things in a new perspective. This is easy to do when times are good and more difficult (but perhaps also more important) to do when times are tough. Try spending a few minutes each day thinking about what you are thankful for. You can write it down in your journal if you’d like; this will give you something to look back on later. Another way to practice gratitude is to volunteer in your community helping those who are less fortunate.
6. Keep Your Mind Active
You’ve heard the adage, “Use it or lose it,” and while this can apply to any number of things, it is true when referring to the mind. Keeping your mind active allows information to continue taking root in your brain. It might even stave off dementia! Take a college or general knowledge course (you can take them online at Coursera, Udemy, and other websites), join a chess league, or take up Sudoku. Even keeping up with the local and national news or joining a web forum where you can discuss current events can keep your mental gears turning.
7. Make Time for Friends
Interacting with other people can improve your mental health and ease depression and anxiety symptoms. It can also reduce your risk of developing dementia. Make the time to meet up with friends regularly. If you don’t have any friends with whom you can get together on a regular basis, figure out some ways to make some! Join a book group at the library, volunteer at the animal shelter, join a church or some other organization that meets weekly, or sign up to coach your child’s recreational sport.
8. Do Things You Enjoy
Too many adults have to-do lists that are jam-packed with obligations. For example, you might work all day, then chauffeur the children around to their afterschool activities, then cook dinner, clean up, finish up housework, and go to bed, only to do it all again the next day. Weekends might be full of errands and yard work. It’s important to be sure you to carve out some time for self care and do things you enjoy. For example, block out Sunday afternoons for a family movie or make plans to take a dance class of your own one weeknight. Think about what you’d enjoy spending your time doing and find a place for it in your schedule.
9. Seek Physical and Mental Health Care
One of the best ways you can preserve your mental health is to visit the medical and mental health professionals that can take good care of both your body and your mind. Physical illnesses can wreak havoc on your mental health as well as your physical health. Go get a checkup every year to be sure that you’re in good health and to nip potential problems in the bud. Also, if you have symptoms of a mental health concern like depression or anxiety, talk to a mental health counselor about your treatment options. Cognitive behavioral therapy or medication can pick up where lifestyle changes haven’t improved matters.
If you’re a parent, it’s likely that you put your child’s well-being before your own, especially during times of stress. However, you owe it to yourself to take good care of your body and your mind. After all, if you don’t care for yourself, who will do it for you? Without self care, you will not be able to function too well. In order to take care of others, you must take care of yourself first. Taking good care of yourself encompasses both physical and mental health. So, listen to your mind and body and start implementing some of the self care tips listed above to keep you happy and healthy.