9 ways to practice self-love for your mental health
In this fast-paced world, we are always on, always going, always doing — and always feeling the pressure to do more. But as we grapple with a growing mental health crisis, it’s time to prioritize self-care and self-compassion.
Here are 9 simple ways to show yourself some love today.
1. Take a break.
For many of us, this is easier said than done. Whether it’s work/life balance, family drama, school stress or other demands consuming your time and energy, you probably feel too overwhelmed to think about taking a break. But the mental health benefits of hitting pause far outweigh anything you think you might miss out or fall behind on by taking a short break.
Trust me, you’ll feel refreshed and even more productive if you take a few minutes to yourself before diving back in.
Taking a break is a good start but to truly show your mental health some love, embrace stress management through the art of relaxation. Relaxing takes a pointed effort to take your mind off the ever-increasing demands and distractions around you.
Try deep breathing, mindfulness or guided imagery, to name a few — whatever helps you disengage your mind from the world around you.
3. Try a de-stressing exercise.
It might be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling overly stressed, but experts agree that exercise is one of the most powerful ways to give your mental health a boost. Certain forms of exercise are especially helpful for releasing built-up tension and anxiety.
Try yoga or tai chi to fully embrace the mind-body connection.
4. Get outside.
Maybe yoga isn’t your thing, but exercise still should be. Grab your sneakers and head outside for a breath of fresh air in the great outdoors. In some ways, exercising outside is even more beneficial than hitting the gym.
Better yet, find a group fitness class that meets outside for some social interaction.
5. Feed your brain.
When it comes to your mental health and your mood, nutrition matters. Did you know stress raises the levels of the hormone cortisol in your body? This inflammation causes a myriad of problems related to elevated blood sugar, indigestion and weight gain that can leave you feeling miserable.
Tonight, cook yourself a meal full of anti-inflammatory and stress-fighting foods like salmon, avocado, broccoli and mushrooms. Add some turmeric for flavor and an extra anti-inflammatory boost.
6. Embrace your inner child.
Coloring books aren’t just for children. Art has been proven to lower stress levels and boost mood, but the reality is we’re not all artists. Coloring books are a simple way to take a mental break, let go of distractions and get in tune with your feelings.
Head to the store to pick up some crayons and a coloring book, or find a printable book online, and get coloring.
7. Put pen to paper.
You might not consider yourself a writer, but don’t we all have a story to tell? Research shows that writing can help you identify and manage stressors in your life, find emotional healing, lower your stress levels and boost your problem-solving skills.
It doesn’t have to be a novel, but take 15 minutes today to sit down and write about whatever comes to mind.
8. Go to bed.
If you’re like most of America, you could use a good night’s sleep. 1 in 3 adults does not get enough sleep on a regular basis (“enough” meaning the 7 hours recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.) When you’re sleep-deprived in terms of quality or quantity, your physical and mental health suffer.
So, go to bed early, sleep in, do whatever you need to do to get a good night’s sleep. Your body and brain will thank you.
Let’s talk about social media. While social media can help you connect with friends and loved ones, the social comparisons and pressure to keep up can also leave you feeling drained, anxious and even depressed.
Just for a few minutes, turn everything off. Embrace the freedom of disengaging. You might find you enjoy being in the moment more than being in the know.
Whatever self-love looks like for you, make it a priority — not just for today, but for the rest of your life. If you ever feel overwhelmed by stress, anxiety or depression, know that you’re not alone. You can talk to a doctor and get help today.
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