Questions about how to look after your mental health through self care? Here are some great tips and suggestions to get you started.
Question 1: When should I start?
Start self-care the night before. While we’re asleep, our minds may be unconscious, but our brains and bodies are hard at work, keeping us healthy and making sure our bodies are functioning at optimal levels.i If you have been asking ‘how many hours of sleep do I need’, keep in mind that it’s recommended that adults get seven to eight hours of sleep each night,ii and not getting enough quality sleep can affect both your physical and mental health.iii Making sure you’re getting quality shut-eye is an important foundation for your self-care routine. Some tips to improve sleep include grabbing your coziest blankets, blackout curtains, ear plugs, or whatever tools you need to settle down, and make getting those zzzs part of your everyday wellness routine!
Question 2: What’s the first thing I should do each day?
Start the day with a tall glass of water. You may be familiar with the statistic that water makes up about 60 percent of our body weight, but what you might not know is that every single cell, tissue, and organ requires water to function.iv So, how much water should you drink? The average adult man needs to consume about 15 cups of fluids via water, other beverages, and food each day, and the average adult woman needs about 11 cups.v Get a head start by beginning every day with a glass of water as part of your daily wellness routine.
Question 3: What are some good self care habits to get into?
Practice gratitude. Self-care isn’t only about taking care of our physical health, it’s also important to take care of our emotional health. Try starting or ending each day by writing down a few things that you’re grateful for—whether they’re big things like your family’s health and your job, or small things like a beautiful garden you saw during the day or your favorite band releasing a new album. Turning practicing gratitude into a daily ritual by keeping a gratitude journal can encourage us to become more mindful of our surroundings, and help us start or end the day with a positive attitude.
Question 4: Where are the best places to practice self care?
Spend time in nature. Especially for those of us living in big cities where glimpses of greenery are few and far between, taking some time during the day to get outside for a walk around the block or a few minutes of bird-watching at the local park can help us slow down. If you live by a lake or an ocean, take advantage of warm weather with a daily swim. If you live in a more mountainous area, hiking up the peaks can give you a new perspective.
Question 5: How can I reduce stress related to trying to eat well?
Cut down on stress with meal-planning. Whether we’re cooking for the whole family or simply trying to find time for breakfast for one before work, mealtime can feel like a race to the finish line. Practice self-care by planning your menu on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Not only can having healthy meal ideas planned in advance, they can also help save you time at the grocery store, it can also help save money—no more panicked takeout ordering! While making a grocery list and game plan for a week of meals might seem like just another task to add to our to-do lists, the time, money, and stress we’ll save in the long run is worth it. And if that’s not self-care, what is?
Question 6: Does exercise positively affect mental health?
Absolutely. So sweat it out. Helping improve our mood,vi reducing our risk of heart disease and improving circulation,vii improving our sleep and sexual health,viii helping with weight control ix —the list of the benefits of exercise goes on and on! Make a workout routine part of your self-care routine, whether it’s by kicking around a soccer ball with a few friends, taking a walk around the neighborhood with your dog, doing an online Pilates class, or having a dance party with your kids.
Question 7. Can self-care include watching my favorite shows?
Limit screen-time. From laptop to smartphone to TV to tablet, sometimes the day can feel like a ping pong game from screen to screen. Set aside some time every day for a short technology detox—yes, you can put down your phone for thirty minutes! Get outside, cook dinner, write in a journal, or simply enjoy some face-to-face time with a family member—your digital detox activity is up to you.
8. How should I adjust my diet to promote self care?
Eat healthy, balanced meals. A healthy meal plan can have a truly beneficial effect on mental health. So incorporate a variety of foods and beverages from all five food groups—fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy—to get the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.x Talk to your doctor about adding a dietary supplement, like a multivitamin, to your routine to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of all essential vitamins and minerals.