True wellness is the intersection of physical and mental health. You can’t have one without the other, but today’s fast-paced lifestyles often means that mental health falls to the wayside.
So how can you stop that from happening? One way is by focusing more on self-care: intentionally making space to take care of yourself each day.
While self-care might sound selfish or not important, or for some people just not enough time for it, at Psychology Beverly Hills, we believe it’s an integral part of mental health, and when done appropriately, has numerous benefits. In fact, it’s essential if you want to live your healthiest, happiest life for yourself and those you love.
Here are eight ways to take better care of yourself in your everyday life.
1. Improve sleep habits
Everyone needs sleep, but more than a third of American adults don’t get enough sleep every night. Make sleep a self-care habit, and start each day on a better note.
Establish healthy sleep habits to wind down before bed and improve your quality of sleep. For example: try to avoid caffeine and sugar in the evenings, try making your bedroom a quiet, relaxing space that’s free of distractions, and try to put away electronics (or anything too stimulating to the mind) before bed.
2. Express gratitude
Gratitude means acknowledging and being thankful for the things you have. It’s a positive emotion, and expressing gratitude has proven mental and physical health benefits.
Start by being present in each moment. Then, recognize the people, moments, and things that bring you joy. If you like, you can keep a gratitude journal that you write in each day. The habit of practicing gratitude can evoke feelings of warmth and kindness — both for yourself and those around you.
3. Spend time in nature or outdoors
These days, it’s easy to spend all our time inside. For a self-care boost, take a step out the door and spend some time in nature. Being outdoors offers a host of mental health benefits, from lower stress levels to improved mood.
This time can be as short or as long as you like. Try taking your dog for a walk around the block or explore a local park or neighborhood with your family, friends or even by yourself. Even just sitting outside can help you feel more grounded and calm.
4. Physical Exercise
Exercise is a key element of physical health, but did you know it’s essential for mental wellness too? Regular physical activity reduces stress and anxiety, boosts cognitive function, and improves mood.
If the thought of running miles on a treadmill isn’t appealing, take time to come up with other ways to get moving. You can pick anything that is more appealing to you or you can explore and try a new activity. For example, you might consider signing up for a dance class or a recreational sports team. Exercising in ways you enjoy can hopefully make moving your body feel more pleasurable from the outset, and not a chore.
5. Focus on nutritious foods
Just like physical activity, what you eat influences more than just your physical health. Unhealthy eating habits can increase your risk of physical health issues and can similarly increase your risk of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Healthy eating habits, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect and help you feel more focused, energized and calmer.
Fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains all give your body and mind essential nutrients. Try focusing on eating minimally-processed meals, and consider trying mindful eating. Mindful eating can help you stay aware of the food you’re eating, so you can make healthier choices that are better for your physical and emotional wellbeing.
6. Dive into the things you love
A major part of self-care is simply taking time for activities you enjoy. There’s no limit to the activities that fall into this category — it’s whatever you like to do!
Consider getting into hobbies, like knitting, playing music, or reading. Other activities could be as simple as taking baths more often, spending a day shopping, or cooking just for the fun of it. Engaging in pleasurable activities you love can be rejuvenating and help you recharge before tackling important responsibilities in your life.
7. Schedule time for self-care
Set time aside for your self-care activities, and try not to let other obligations constantly interfere. It's sometimes very easy for self-care time to go by the weigh side because it feels like there are so many other priorities to tackle such as family, work or school obligations. Scheduling self-care time and activities not only makes it easier to do but can serve as a reminder that it is also a priority for your overall health and wellbeing. Taking care of yourself will hopefully allow you to actually better tackle all your responsibilities.
Whether it’s a few minutes every day or more time once a week, putting self-care on your schedule will remind you that it's important and help establish self-care as a healthy routine.
8. Actively manage stress
Stress is something everyone faces from time to time, whether it’s at work, at school, or at home. Finding ways to manage your stress level and to prevent stress from spiraling can certainly be considered an act of self-care. While some stress in life is sometimes helpful and even necessary, developing the skills of self care to prevent heightened levels of stress can help clear your mind so you can feel your best.
Generally speaking, practicing self-care regularly can really help manage your stress levels and may make it easier for you to navigate stressful situations when they come up in your life. However, self care primarily falls under the category of healthy coping and lifestyle skills. It is also important to be aware and to realize when self care just may not be enough. In life situations where the stress is simply too high, sometimes even leading to feelings of anxiety and depression, it may be time to seek professional help. Therapy, in combination with a healthy lifestyle, can then help you reduce your stress levels and regain a sense of confidence to then navigate your life more to your liking.
Our team is here to help you take care of yourself and feel your best! Book your first appointment at Psychology Beverly Hills online or call us at 424-331-1570 today.