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5 True Self-Care Practices that Improve Mental Health

5 True Self-Care Practices that Improve Mental Health

The term "self-care" is probably one of the most over-used and misused in our modern vernacular. Many think of self-care as a paraffin wax pedicure or an exfoliating facial and while we fully endorse all the spa day treats, that's only scratching the surface. We believe self-care should go much deeper and truly prioritize and improve our mental health. The following suggestions may seem simple, but when incorporated regularly into our daily lives, they can make a larger-than-life impact on our overall health and wellness.

  1. Nourish your body and soul with plant-powered nutrition. Ok, maybe it doesn't seem like a salad or other veggies equate to self-care, but to the contrary! It's time to jazz up those salads with summer fruit like strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, and other citrus treats! Grab some mint, basil, dill, or other fresh herbs to wake up your senses! The vibrant colors, the intoxicating fragrances, and the balance of sweet, savory, bitter, and sour flavors will surely satisfy any craving and provide countless benefits to your body. Fine, what does this have to do with my mental health, you ask? Great question. Eating a clean, healthy, nutrient-dense diet provides our brains with what it needs to function optimally, unlike diets high in refined sugar which produce free radicals, inflammation, and oxidative stress, all of which contribute to mood disorders and depression.*
  2. Set boundaries and stick to them. Your time, energy, and presence are valuable and even more importantly, LIMITED. Be mindful of who and what you lend these precious resources to and be absolutely clear in what you expect in return, whether that's nothing because you want to volunteer for a cause you believe in or fair compensation for the value you provide. And remember it's ok to say no. You are not obligated to be everything to everyone all the time. Boundaries remind us of our value and bolster a healthy self-esteem and confidence level that we all need.
  3. Which leads us to number three. Take a break. Take several. You were not put on this planet to be productive 24/7. It really is ok to sit on your couch or on a hammock and just be. Breaks are essential in order to keep going, refill our cup, reenergize, and recharge. Breaks, even for a few minutes, allow your body to regulate and mind to pause and clear itself of the noise. Maybe drink some water and revel in the peace and quiet. Now go... do nothing.
  4. When you're done doing nothing, go move your body. The act of exercising releases the endorphin hormones which give us all the good feels. It can be hard to begin a routine and even harder to stick to one, but try to think of it like this: For 30 minutes or one hour, you are not only giving undivided attention to YOURSELF, but you're also creating strength, space, and joy throughout your body. YOU get to do that for yourself. You're in full control and you're the sole beneficiary. Although the stronger, more flexible, and happier you are, chances are there will be a ripple effect to anyone who crosses your path. It's a win-win!
  5. Prioritize quality sleep. The act of sleeping is crucial to our mental health. 7-8 hours of quality sleep allows us to wake up feeling rested and more prepared for the new day ahead. Sleep is also crucial for processing all our thoughts, emotions, and memories and according to the Sleep Foundation, "it appears that a lack of sleep is especially harmful to the consolidation of positive emotional content. This can influence mood and emotional reactivity and is tied to mental health disorders and their severity, including the risk of suicidal ideas or behaviors."** 

So please, take self-care seriously. It is so much more than a day at the spa, it's truly the only way toward achieving optimal mental health and wellness. You are worth it and it's time to give back to the one person who has brought you this far; YOU! If you're ready to begin a serious self-care regimen but aren't quite sure where to begin, start here, with our D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success program. You will receive a new email each day highlighting a new pillar of health and tons of tips on how to incorporate new practices into your life in a way that is manageable and realistic.

More questions? Call us anytime and schedule a free 30-minute Discovery Session with one of our practitioners to see how we can guide you on your journey toward achieving optimal health. 

*https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

**https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health

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