Due to its growing prevalence, mental health issues are currently some of the most discussed topics on several platforms. For example, as of 2020, the National Institute of Mental Illness reported that nearly one in five US adults lives with a mental illness.
Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that suicide is the leading cause of death in 15-29 year-olds. These gory statistics have led everyone to search for possible solutions to the worldwide mental health epidemic. From medications to therapy and support groups, experts are proffering many solutions.
Notably, mental health care starts with you. With self-care techniques, you can learn the general details concerning mental health issues. Then, you can apply this knowledge while caring for yourself to ward off mental health problems. Therefore, we explain below how caring for yourself can help you maintain positive mental health.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care simply means taking care of yourself to ensure you’re mentally healthy. It’s noteworthy that self-care doesn’t mean self-indulgence or selfishness. Instead, you’re merely taking wholesome steps to guarantee your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
You’ll engage in routines, attitudes, and actions that benefit your mental health with self-care techniques. Self-care is also a preventative, proactive, and coping strategy for improving mental health. We mean that if you follow this guide, you can counter mental health problems before they occur. But suppose you’re already experiencing mental health challenges.
Then, the tips below can help you cope with and improve your issues. Notably, self-care can range from little things such as dieting and compulsory breakfast to therapy. So, below is our complete self-care guide for improving your mental health.
Mental Health Awareness
No one can properly cater to their mental health if they’re unaware of its importance. Sadly, many people aren’t as conscious of their mental health as physical health. However, mental health awareness will involve:
- Understanding the concept of mental health
- Knowing the types of mental health illnesses
- Investigating genetics and family mental health history
- Being aware of risk factors for mental health issues
- Mental health statistics
- Signs and symptoms of mental health issues
- Mental health treatment and coping options
Mental health awareness is necessary to detect mental health issues early. This way, you can begin early treatment of the illness. In addition, if you seek professional help, you can get treatment faster.
Caring for Your Physical Health
Many people don’t understand the nexus between their physical and mental health. However, studies have linked mental illnesses with physical health conditions. For example, adults with mental health problems have higher chances of succumbing to physical illnesses. This means that your mental health self-care guide must contain tips on boosting your physical health. The tips below can help you.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Some people consume alcohol daily, while others use alcohol and controlled substances to cope with difficult feelings. Unfortunately, consistent consumption of alcohol and drugs will adversely affect your health. Furthermore, drug and alcohol consumption can lead to worse feelings or even addiction. Dealing with addiction will thus worsen your mental health condition.
Anyone will quickly agree that there’s a link between their daily diet and physical health. For example, eating spoilt food will most likely cause food poisoning. Similarly, your feeding can also affect your mental health. One crucial way this occurs is through brain development.
Nutritional psychiatry is a field that studies the relationship between a healthy brain and feeding. Your brain controls your thoughts, movement, and other activities. So, a healthy brain equals excellent mental health.
Examples of healthy diets for your mental health include:
- Whole foods like fruits and vegetables
- Fiber-rich foods
- Nutrient-filled carbs like whole grains and beans
- Antioxidants from berries, leafy green vegetables, turmeric, salmon
- Foods with omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin D
- Fermented foods
Studies have linked deficiencies in these nutrients to mental health issues such as depression.
Get Enough Sleep
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get adequate sleep and rest. Work, school, and other responsibilities consistently eat into our sleep time. However, if you want to boost your mental health, you must ensure that you get enough sleep. What’s enough sleep differs for everyone, but adults generally need 6-8 hours of sleep daily.
If you obey this simple rule, you’ll have the energy to deal with difficult feelings and experiences. But unfortunately, sleep deprivation causes irritability and poor cognition. Chronic sleep deprivation can even lead to depression and anxiety. Therefore, staying up for too long reduces your shot at great mental health.
Stay Physically Active
Physical activity is another self-care skill for improved mental health. It has several benefits, such as reducing stress, boosting your mood, and increasing your energy levels. Notably, exercises don’t have to be too strenuous, and you don’t even have to visit a gym. Instead, you can think of any physical activities you ordinarily enjoy, including running, walking, and skipping. There’s a less-demanding sport for everyone. Even disabled persons can engage in some exercises.
Improving Your Social Life
A healthy social life can positively impact your mental health. A publication by the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine stated that socially isolated people are often lonely and depressed. Furthermore, such people can suffer from low self-esteem or anxiety.
The mental health consequences of social isolation are so bad that it’s a form of torture. So, an important self-care tip would be investing in social interactions with friends and family. Feelings of connections with these people can make you feel valued and confident. Hanging around the right people can also supply the motivation to face difficult situations.
However, suppose you aren’t physically close to your loved ones. Then, you can start creating a new community wherever you are. This will involve getting more involved in your community, actively attending events, or going anywhere you’re sure to meet interesting people.
Regulate Your Social Media Usage
Many people develop healthy social relationships on social media. However, relying on social media for relationships can be disadvantageous. For example, kids and teenagers are at risk of cyberbullying and stalking, which would be bad for their mental health.
In addition, social media is addictive. Social media addiction can also have the same consequences as other forms of addiction. These would include:
- Neglect of your personal life
- Neglecting real relationships
- Mental preoccupation
One other significant downside of social media use is lifestyle comparisons. People consistently show off their social and professional achievements on Instagram and LinkedIn, respectively. Therefore, people tend to compare their lives with others. If you aren’t as successful as your social media crowd appears, you can slip into depression.
Finally, social media can create a false sense of having real relationships. Your 1,000 friends on Facebook aren’t your friends. So, self-care would involve regulating your online presence to avoid all these potential downsides of social media.
Other Helpful Self-Care Tips
Expressing gratitude can help keep mental health problems at bay. This is because you’re focusing on the positives in your life and not living on the negatives. So, you can daily remind yourself of everything that’s going right in your life. Notably, it’s best to itemize these things specifically.
You can write them out and think about them. In addition, you can think of how you worried about these same things in the past. Seeing that everything turned out fine can encourage you despite whatever difficulties you may face.
This step is related to gratitude. However, it goes beyond being grateful for things to believing and expecting the best out of every situation. Essentially, you’re focusing on the good in every situation. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll ignore reality. Instead, you’re merely approaching the good and bad aspects of your life with an expectation that everything will end well.
If you have any negative thoughts or fears, you can identify and challenge them. Then, if you consider them in bright light, the negativity can lift off your mind. Positivity helps relieve stress, and it ensures that your mind is clear enough to think of creative solutions to your problems.
Seek Professional Help
Finally, getting professional help for mental health issues is also a self-care technique. If you have a personal or family history of mental illness, it’ll be best to visit a mental health expert. This is necessary even if you haven’t had any mental illness episodes yet.
Furthermore, suppose you experience persistent depressive symptoms or other signs of a mental health crisis, speaking to an expert can help. There are several procedures through which a professional can help you cope with mental health illnesses. And, like physical illnesses, it’s always best to start mental health treatment early.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. To stay healthy, it’ll be best to consider the self-care tips above. They don’t cost much since you’re merely integrating them into your daily life. So, get ahead of mental health problems by taking better care of yourself. Our mental health resources can help you along this path.