Self-care is an important part of maintaining your mental health. Even with a busy job, kids running around and household responsibilities to tend to, it’s essential to allocate some time just for you.
You might be wondering what self-care looks like in practice. It can take so many different forms, but it’s all about using time, energy and resources to make sure you’re healthy and taken care of. It’s about performing the tasks in your life that leave you happy, healthy and fulfilled — both mentally and physically.
While self-care is different for everyone, there are a few universal steps anyone can take to improve their quality of life.
For some, getting seven or eight hours of sleep each night is a given, though others have a difficult time getting to bed and staying asleep. Getting enough rest each night can improve feelings of depression and anxiety, help you stay alert and lift your mood.
Getting on a regular sleep schedule can make this habit much easier to pick up. When your body gets used to a routine, you’re much more likely to stick to it and make it work.
Eating healthy all the time is a bit unrealistic for some people. If your days are often busy and hectic, sometimes it’s just about sneaking in meals when you’ve got the time. Self-care is about balance, not perfection. At the same time, it’s also important to nourish the body with foods that support body and brain functions. Eating a balanced diet can improve your energy and happiness, but you don’t have to overhaul your whole pantry and eat kale salad for every meal — although kale salads often prove rather tasty.
Eating at least one nutritious meal each day can improve your mental and physical health tremendously without the pressures of dieting or overhauling your usual eating habits. Even small steps have the power to make effective change.
One of the great joys in life is having friends, family and loved ones to share moments with — good and bad. Humans are social beings, and spending time with those you care about can make a big difference in your mood. If you’re struggling, reaching out to your friends, family and community can be a great pick-me-up. Even simple interactions like phone calls and texts can remind you that you’re loved, supported and cared for.
Mindfulness is the act of remaining centered in the present moment and devoting your complete attention to what is happening in your own space. While this can take the form of meditation, mindfulness is a practice that can be used in many parts of your life. It allows you to remain centered and present, which can improve your mood and overall attitude.
You can try out some meditations to calm and soothe you, and you can also take a mindfulness attitude into your daily life for a bit more gratitude and balance.
We all know hydration is important. Nearly 60% of your body is made up of water. Drinking enough water doesn’t just mean you’ll be heading to the bathroom every half hour. What it really means is that your body will have an easier time regulating body temperature, keeping your joints lubricated, prevents back pain, keeps your organs functioning properly, and more.
Finding an exercise regimen you love can vastly improve your mental health. It releases endorphins, which can improve your overall happiness. The physical benefits of working out can also improve your quality of life, as feeling good about your body and adding something fun to your schedule can make you happier by default.
Working out doesn’t mean you have to spend an hour at the weight rack or on the treadmill every day if that’s not your thing. You can find a sport or activity you enjoy to get your blood moving while having fun.
Although it might take a little trial and error to find a workout that’s perfect for you, trying new things and experimenting with different sports and activities can help you find what you like. That way, you’ll stick to it and experience all the benefits.
Prioritizing your own leisure and fulfillment is an important part of self-care. While it may feel difficult sometimes to put time aside simply for your own pleasure and enjoyment, hobbies are part of what makes life enjoyable. When you do something just for you, it’s an acknowledgment that you deserve time for yourself, which is great for boundary setting and self-esteem.
You don’t have to be a pro at whatever you pick up, and your hobbies and activities can change over time. However, taking time to do something fun and engaging can bring a lot more joy and fulfillment to your life.
Just like it’s important to care about those around you, self-care needs to be a priority in your life to maintain consistent mental health that’s thriving, not just surviving. It’s important to remember that you’re worth the time and effort, and you deserve to prioritize your needs.