While there are countless mental health benefits to prioritizing self-care, it can often be overlooked by busy individuals. Luckily, there are ways to make self-care easy, such as getting enough sleep at night and eating well. Eliminating specific stressors is also important, so consider options such as easing financial burdens, taking time to relax, and learning how to tell people “no.”
Start with Sleep
If you’re struggling to find the time to take care of your needs, kickstart your self-care practices by starting small. One of the first things you can do is establish a regular sleeping routine. There are many benefits to getting enough sleep, including boosting your immune system, losing weight, and reducing stress, among other things.
If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, there may be some changes you can make to your evening routine, such as limiting screen time before bed. Research shows that the blue light emitted by screens can suppress melatonin, a sleep hormone naturally produced by your body. Avoid drinking coffee after midday, and be sure to exercise during the day.
For many people-pleasers, saying “no” can be very difficult. It’s common to become accustomed to placating the needs of others before ourselves, which can be devastating over time if it comes at the cost of self-care. However, saying “no” is a form of self-empowerment, helping to set healthy boundaries with colleagues, friends, and family members.
The fear of missing out, commonly known as FOMO, is a real issue for some people, making it hard to decline invitations. While you may feel that agreeing to everything fills your life with excitement, it robs you of downtime where your body and mind can reboot and gain perspective.
Take Time to Relax
It’s common these days for people to lead very busy lives with almost no downtime whatsoever. While you may feel fulfilled by your job, family responsibilities, and hobbies, it’s important for your mental health to incorporate some downtime into your schedule. If you must, block it off in your planner so you ensure there’s time set aside for rest. Read a book, take a walk, or just settle in for a cat nap to help ease your mind and reduce stress.
Eat Whole Foods
Another downside to a busy schedule is the loss of healthy eating. Home-cooked meals are often replaced with fast food or microwave dinners, dealing a double blow to the stressed-out individual who could really benefit from a fresh vegetable or two.
By dedicating time to planning meals and being critical about what you eat, you’ll be working toward reducing stress and improving your mental health. There are many foods that have been proven to help with mental health disorders such as depression; bananas, avocados, and carrots are all great options to help elevate your mood.
If you’re noticing your mental health needs attention, it’s worth identifying specific areas of your life that create stress. For many, financial burdens are a key source of stress, so think about ways to save money, such as eating out less, buying secondhand goods, and opting for a staycation over the holidays. If you’re living in a cluttered and messy home, this can also be a major stressor. Bring in positive energy by tossing out old and unused items, cleaning your windows, and letting in fresh air.
The first step to improving mental health and self-care is getting enough sleep. From there, you can fine-tune other areas of your life, including adding more downtime into your schedule, getting exercise, and eating whole foods. As you unwind, you should aim to identify key stressors and do what you can to eliminate or ease them, such as reducing financial burdens by refinancing your home. Get creative and give your mind time to relax; you’ll find your mental health improves steadily as you prioritize self-care.