When it comes to your mental health, there are many things you can do to feel better, and it’s important to look for things that will boost your mood and your outlook. Not only does it help you stay productive and energized, it allows you to ward off symptoms of depression and anxiety as well. Exactly how you choose to take care of yourself is up to you, and as long as it’s done in a healthy way, you can practice it just about every day when time allows.
The key is to make time, especially if you work long hours or have a family who needs your attention much of the time. Look for small ways you can work self-care into your daily routine, such as waking up fifteen minutes earlier so you can practice yoga or sit with a cup of hot tea, or making use of your lunch hour to take a walk and get some fresh air. The more you’re able to focus on yourself--even for short bursts--the better you’ll feel, and you’ll be able to cope more easily with stress.
Keep reading for some wonderful tips on how to practice self-care and boost your mental health.
Get more sleep
A common problem for many Americans is that they don’t get enough sleep. From pets and young children climbing into bed in the wee hours to having too much to eat or drink before bedtime, there are many things that can keep you from getting good rest. Creating a sleep routine will help, so be sure to cut out liquids after a certain hour, avoid caffeine (and foods that contain caffeine, such as chocolate) at night, and do something relaxing before bed, such as read a book or take a hot shower. If your pets sleep with you--or if your little ones tend to creep in for a snuggle in the middle of the night--set some rules, and stick to them. This will help everyone in the house get a good night’s sleep. For a Chinese medicine perspective on why we don't sleep, read this article.
Incorporate Traditional Chinese Medicine
DAO Labs Co-Founder John G. McGarvey has written extensively about his personal experience using acupuncture and herbs to be a better business person, but ultimately there are several holistic practices from TCM that you can consider adding to your self-care routine. Meditation is a good one, as it promotes awareness, mindfulness, and relaxation. If you have a hard time sitting still, Tai Chi and Qigong both use slow, focused movements to create an internal quiet that relieves stress. Pair these activities with some natural herbs, and your mental health will get a boost.
Strive for better health
The better your body feels, the better your mental health will be, as the two are linked. When you’re hurting or when you have a health issue, it can be difficult to tackle all the things the day can throw at you. Your gut health is especially important, as this is one area that can make you feel awful when it’s not in good shape. Do a bit of research on the types of healthy gut bacteria that can help you feel better; Akkermansia, for instance, can positively affect the metabolism, while Bifidobacterium can protect the lining of your intestine from harmful microbes.
Take a timeout
Few things can interrupt your mental health like stress and anxiety, so it’s important to know when to take a timeout for yourself. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a vacation; go for a hike with your pet, or get a pedicure and relax a little. It’s the little things that often have the most impact, so even if you don’t have lots of time, you can still find ways to feel good.
Keep a journal
Journaling can have a huge positive impact on your mental health. Not only is it a way to express your feelings, it’s an outlet for creativity, which is always good for boosting your mood and ability to cope with stress or other negative feelings. Keep your journal with you so that when things get rough, you can take a few minutes to get it down on paper and let it go.
Self-care and mental health have always been linked, but now, more than ever, more and more people are finding that it’s necessary for their overall well-being to learn to relax and take time for themselves. You may feel guilt about focusing on yourself, but the truth is, you’re doing something good for your health that will benefit your friends, family members, and coworkers as well.