4 Self-Care Habits to Improve and Support Your Mental Health

The state of your mental health affects your overall quality of life and how you think, feel, perform, and respond to daily challenges. So it’s important to nurture yourself to prevent developing mental conditions such as depression or anxiety. You can do so with four self-care habits proven to enhance your overall sense of wellness.

1. Get Plenty of Sleep

Adequate sleep means sleeping for 6 to 9 hours daily. Sleep is a much needed self-care habit that is vital for proper body and brain function, immunity, and mental wellness. When you’re well-rested, you’re better able to think clearly, and cope with negative events or feelings. Adequate sleep also protects your mental health against anxiety and depression. You can improve sleep with daily habits such as having a regular set bedtime, avoiding caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime, sleeping in a dark or dim-lit room, and sleeping on a good mattress with proper comfortable pillows and bedding. You can also practice relaxing one to two hours before bedtime by reading, listening to calming tunes and turning off phones, computers and social media.

2. Increase Physical Activity

Believe it or not, people with increased physically-active lifestyles tend to feel happier and have a more enthusiastic and positive outlook on life. Physical activities that promote good mental health include walking outdoors, jogging, hiking, exercising, and yoga. Regular exercise, increases blood circulation, boosts energy, mental alertness, and lightens mood. It also helps to reduce stress and anxiety, releasing hormones in the body that leave you feeling relaxed or on a natural “high.” You may also sleep better and even notice an increased sense of self-worth. Some days you may feel too exhausted or overwhelmed to move, take the time you need but don’t give up completely.  Once you get past the first 5 to 10 minutes of your workout, you’ll start to feel energetic and able to resume the habit of marching daily toward your goal.

3. Get in Touch with Nature

Frequent or daily outdoor activities are an effortless way to connect with nature. You can start by spending time around your home relaxing outdoors or working in your garden. Planting and caring for plants (both in and outdoor) can be quite therapeutic for the mind, body and soul. Other ways to connect with nature include soaking up the sunshine, taking an easy walk, listening to the birds in the trees, or watching animals and insects.  Finding ways to  connect with mother nature and your environment, will help you feel less stressed.

4. Eat Healthy Foods Daily

Eating healthy foods every day is a natural therapy for your brain, and highly beneficial to the rest of your body’s vital organs. Certain foods, such as whole foods (not processed) and organic fresh fruits and vegetables, contain nutrients that also support mental wellness. Processed foods, including those with excess sugars and caffeine, can adversely affect brain health. Processed foods also contain chemicals that destroy natural gut bacteria and produce inflammation leaving your body feeling bloated and tired. Increased inflammation in the body and brain is linked to anxiety, mood disorders depression and chronic disease. Opt for foods packed with antioxidants, folate, B vitamins, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and other valuable nutrients that help reduce inflammation, balance brain chemicals, and stabilize mood or even elevate mood.

It may take some time to cultivate habits that enhance mental and physical health. Start by picking one activity and one healthy habit at a time. Do it daily for at least 30 days. It will eventually become second nature, leading to an overall healthy lifestyle.

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