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  • Writer's pictureClaire Harrison

Why self-care is good for your mental health

Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. In order to keep your mental health balanced, it’s essential to take care of your overall health and quality of life. Self-care can play a role in maintaining your mental health and help support your treatment and recovery if you suffer with mental health challenges.

What does self care mean?

Self-care means taking the time to do those things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health. This can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact and can be a real game-changer for your mental health and wellbeing. Here are some ways that self-care can help:

Restore balance

Taking breaks and connecting with yourself can help bring balance back into your life and make you feel more like you again.

Boost your mental health

Making self-care a part of your life can help put you in a good headspace, making tough times easier to handle.

Lower the pressure

Prioritising you and your needs, even when things are hectic, can stop you from burning out and get more control in your life.

What can I do to ensure I'm looking after my mental and physical health?

Self-care should not be something you force yourself to do. Self-care practices will refuel you, helping you to take care of yourself and support those around you. When thinking of different self-care activities try to think about these dimensions in your life and how you can improve them: emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational and social. Here are four simple ways to get started.

Move more

Physical activity can help the brain cope better with stress, making it beneficial in the treatment of depression and symptoms of anxiety. Regular physical activity has also been demonstrated to strengthen the immune system. You can also turn your exercise routine into way to spend more time outdoors. Walks, hikes or runs may be easier to fit into your schedule. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can help reduce fatigue, making it a great way to manage symptoms of depression or burnout. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can 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 a healthy, balanced diet

What we eat and drink can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections, and it can also impact our mood. If you’re feeling anxious or unwell, incorporating certain foods into your diet can help alleviate anxiety or encourage the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Try to incorporate as many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals as you can. Other healthy choices include fatty fish, leafy greens and nuts.

Prioritise sleep

Sleep has a significant impact on how you feel mentally and physically. Getting enough sleep will help regulate your mood, improve brain function, and increase your energy to help tackle the day. Take action to ensure that you rest your body by going to bed at around the same time each night. Adults usually require seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you have trouble falling asleep, try some relaxation exercises or meditation. You can also take a break from social media or disconnect from your phone. Limiting your caffeine and sugar consumption may also help improve your sleep. If you work from home, try and keep your work area and sleep area separate from each other.

Plan self-care and set boundaries

Take a moment to think about the best methods to move forward in your life and stay grounded. It’s critical to schedule regular self-care time – plan time to do something that gives you joy and helps you recharge. If you’re feeling anxious, setting boundaries can help you feel safe and comfortable in your surroundings. Boundaries can include setting expectations around physical safety measures with family and friends or putting limits on certain activities. Another method? Create a “no list,” of things you know you don’t like or that you no longer want to do. Examples might include not checking emails at night, or not answering your phone during meals. Learning to say no to things that cause unnecessary stress will positively impact your mental wellbeing.

Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy, such as listening to music, reading, spending time in nature, and engaging in low-stress hobbies.

Focus on positivity

Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.

Stay connected

Reach out to friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.

With a self-care routine that brings you joy, you’ll reap the benefits of a healthier mind and body. And that includes being there for the people who need you.


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