Your morning meeting ran late, and you don’t have time to eat lunch. Instead, you grab a snack at the vending machine and eat it while working at your desk. Nothing you ate met your macronutrient needs for the day, and now you’re stressed out. By the end of the busy day, you’re unsatisfied, tired and anxious about the next day.
Day-to-day life can take a serious toll on your overall health. With some preparation and regular self-care, you can improve your mental health and, in turn, your physical health. Here are some undervalued forms of self-care, along with their impact on your mental health.
One of the easiest ways to practice self-care is by eating well and taking immunity-boosting supplements. Avoid processed, sugary foods and opt for whole foods to fuel your body’s functions. Unhealthy foods can cause skin issues and directly affect your mental health as soon as it reaches your digestive system.
According to Well-Fed Soul, 90 percent of serotonin—a neurotransmitter regulating mood and appetite—is produced in the gut. Eating healthier and maintaining a healthy gut will ensure your system receives the right amount of serotonin for optimal mental and physical health. Practice self-care by choosing foods known to improve gut flora, like yogurt and sprouted grains.
Working out is a great way to practice self-care and help improve your mental health by relieving the symptoms of depression, for example. You can easily incorporate exercise into your daily schedule by walking, dancing, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
You can also set up a gym at home with inexpensive workout equipment like a stability ball, a yoga mat, dumbbells, and resistance bands. Choose a few good workout videos on YouTube, or sign up for a paid workout subscription. A home gym can keep you motivated due to its convenience, and you won’t have to worry about exercising in front of other people.
Give Yourself Downtime
Whether you consider a good night’s sleep or a hot bath downtime, both are often overlooked self-care practices that can go hand in hand. Picture winding down after a long day in a hot bath, treating your skin with natural oil, taking a melatonin supplement and slipping into bed.
Soaking in hot baths regularly has been proven to help people sleep better in addition to reducing stress. The same can be said for cold showers, so as long you practice personal hygiene on a regular basis, you’re already packing self-care into your daily routine.
Sleep is one of the most vital forms of self-care, but not everyone is reaping the benefits of a good night’s sleep. In order to wake up feeling refreshed the next day, it’s recommended that you get around eight hours of sleep in a distraction-free environment. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, pick up natural remedies like melatonin and chamomile tea, and invest in good blackout curtains to keep light and heat out of the room.
Invest in your bedroom to make it a sleep-friendly environment. If your mattress is more than 10 years old, it’s likely time to purchase a new one. Make sure your room is properly ventilated (a ceiling fan can help). An air purifier or humidifier can also improve your bedroom’s air quality and promote sleep. Rip out your wall-to-wall carpeting in favor of hardwood flooring as wood floors won’t trap allergens and dust which can affect your breathing. Of course, the cost of these modifications can add up. If they’re not in your budget, you may want to consider refinancing your home to help pay for them. A home refinance will allow you to give up some equity in your home in return for cash which you can then use to modify your bedroom.
Consult a Professional
While the above self-care strategies can improve your mental health, you shouldn’t discount professional counseling or therapy if you find that you need assistance. Consult your doctor to discuss ways you can treat your symptoms, and then combine your new treatment plan with self-care to really enhance your health and happiness.
If you’re worried about cost, check your health insurance to see what types of mental health services it covers. For example, if you’re a senior, Medicare Part B offers counseling provided by professionals like clinical social workers and psychiatrists, and you can get a free depression screening each year at your primary care doctor’s office.
Self-care doesn’t have to be a complicated act full of face masks and other store-bought products. A few simple adjustments to your daily habits are all it takes to stay healthy. Keep these simple tips in mind as you work to improve your mental health.
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