When life gets busy and your to-do list seems never-ending, it can be difficult to find the time you need to take care of yourself.
But self-care plays an important role in helping you maintain and improve your mental health.
“When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness and increase your energy,” the National Institute of Mental Health states. “Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.”
Here are some suggestions from NIMH to help you get started on your self-care journey. But remember, self-care looks different for everyone, so prioritize what matters most to you.
Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. Small amounts of exercise add up, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do 30 minutes at one time.
Eat healthy, regular meals, and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeinated beverages, such as soft drinks and coffee.
Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.
Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy, such as journaling.
Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things for which you are grateful. Be specific. Write them down at night, or replay them in your mind.
Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.