The Importance of Self-Care and Good Mental Health
In today’s hectic world of constant connectivity, on-call jobs, and media bombardment, it can be difficult to find rest. However, self-care is important — not only for productivity at work but also for your overall mental health. Here are some ways you can pay more attention to self-care throughout the week.
Pay Attention to Your Basic Needs
Self-care doesn’t have to involve an elaborate trip to the spa and massage parlor. Instead, it’s all about the little things you do every day to make yourself feel more comfortable. Think about your simplest daily needs: eating healthy meals, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep. Don’t even worry about social or work-related aspects yet — make sure that you’re taking complete care of yourself on the most basic level.
The amount of sleep you get can affect your mood and sense of comfort throughout the entire day. Take notice of how easily you feel like you can fall asleep throughout the day. If your eyelids are heavy at lunchtime, you may be in need of more sleep. However, if you find yourself taking hours to get to sleep or waking up regularly before your alarm, you might be trying to sleep too much. The amount of sleep each person needs varies — part of proper self-care is getting to know yourself and listening to your body.
Take Time to Relax
Whether you are more of an extrovert or an introvert, a certain amount of alone time is healthy, particularly if you find yourself in constant motion throughout the day. Whether you fill the time with meditation, reading, creative endeavors like painting or playing music, or sitting peacefully in nature, quiet time helps you be at peace with yourself. This, in turn, will help reduce both social and general anxiety. One practical way to increase the amount of time you spend with yourself is to create a meditation area in your home. Pick a corner or a spare room with good natural light, and make it a distraction-free relaxation space you can retreat to any time you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Spend Time with Your Dog
Your dog can be a great companion in your quiet time. Whether you use the time to walk your dog or just sit with each other, research shows that spending time with your dog reduces stress and releases positive chemicals called endorphins in your mind, which increases overall feelings of self-worth. Taking time to love on your dog has also been shown to lower blood pressure. Additionally, dog owners tend to be more active overall. Your dog’s daily walk can be excellent motivation to stay in shape.
Learn to Say “No”
Each of these steps has something in common: At their root, they are all about reducing stress. Less stress means less strain on your body, which can cause chronic pain over a long period of time, as well as increased self-esteem and general happiness. While it is always tempting to be a people-pleaser and accept every social event, every work assignment, and every side project, a critical part of self-care is learning how to say no. When you are burdened with projects from every part of your life, finding time to take care of yourself becomes more difficult. Learning to say no will give you time to spend on relaxation and also help reduce stress.
If you are just beginning to explore self-care, it can feel uncomfortable at times. By starting off with your most basic needs, you can dip yourself into self-care slowly. Watch yourself gradually begin to feel less burdened from stress, more rested from sleep, and more personally fulfilled.