Top Ten Secrets for Good Mental Health
When it comes to your mental health, the ball is really in your court. There’s a lot you can do to
take care of yourself and to find a lifestyle that works for you. When SELF magazine asked
mental health professionals to share their most impactful strategies, one of their
recommendations was having a “self-care arsenal.” Self-care is not only about basics like
nutrition and exercise, but it’s also about taking daily breaks versus getting to a breaking point.
Read on to explore tips for your own self-care arsenal.
1. Start at home — literally. A stress-free place to relax, unwind, and occasionally forget
about the rest of the world is imperative to a healthy mind. An environment like that
takes intention. You can cultivate peace in your own home by eliminating clutter, adding
greenery, and diffusing mood-enhancing essential oils.
2. Do whatever it takes to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night, starting with
creating the perfect sleep environment. Following a soothing (and consistent!) bedtime
routine also greatly helps. Experiment with what works for you, from sinking into your
couch with a cup of calming chamomile tea and a good book to a relaxing bath complete
with candlelight and spa music.
3. Find a form of exercise you love and do it at least 30 minutes a day. It can be tennis,
salsa dancing, running — anything that gets you up and moving. If you have no interest
in going to a gym, there are plenty of YouTube videos to boost your strength and
endurance. The American Heart Association recommends you spend 150 minutes per
week doing moderate exercise.
4. Practice mindfulness by being in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts.
Identify any negative self-talk and give it a positive spin. For example, if you’re feeling
down on yourself for sleeping in until 10:30 a.m. one weekend, counter the negativity by
telling yourself you needed that extra rest and that you’ll get back on track tomorrow.
Also important is incorporating gratitude into your days. Studies have linked gratitude
with everything from increased happiness to better sleep and less stress.
5. Keep your body well hydrated and nourished. Familiarize yourself with healthy eating
plans while avoiding sugar fixes, processed foods, and excess caffeine and/or alcohol.
6. Engage with others, be it through a phone call or by enjoying a cup of tea with a friend.
As the Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported, “Social connections and regular social
interaction with friends and family members not only give us pleasure, they also
influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good
diet, and not smoking.” Now that’s self-care!
7. Be mindful of your needs and know your limits, i.e., when to say “no.” Don’t feel selfish
or guilty about putting your self-care first. It’s like what we’ve learned from all those
airplane safety talks: “Put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.”
8. Find hobbies and activities that make you happy, be it dabbling in photography or
learning how to play the drums. It’s all about finding just the right work-life balance and
doing what makes your heart sing!
9. Just as you care for your car by taking it in for regular maintenance, you need to take
yourself in for regular check-ups, both medical and dental. You need to know if you’re
deficient in any vitamins or minerals and if all of your organs are functioning properly.
10. Practice meditation or deep breathing exercises. This doesn’t need to be complicated in
order to reap the benefits. Simply sit down every day in a quiet place and focus on the
present moment and on your breath. Breathe in, breathe out, and repeat. When your
mind begins to wander, simply bring it back to focusing on your breath. Start with just
three minutes per day. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Congrats to you for being proactive and taking charge of your own mental health. As you
incorporate these self-care tips into your lifestyle, you’ll feel the benefits in no time. Welcome to
a world where you feel less stressed, healthy, and more like yourself. You’ll wonder how you
ever lived any other way.