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Caring for Your Mental Health

by | May 13, 2024 | Health & Wellness | 0 comments

Overview

Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is more than the absence of a mental illness—it’s essential to 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 have a mental illness.

How can I take care of my mental health?

Self-care means taking the time to do 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.

Here are some self-care tips:

  • Get regular exercise. 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 healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Pay attention to your intake of caffeine and alcohol and how they affect your mood and well-being—for some, decreasing caffeine and alcohol consumption can be helpful.
  • Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. 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.
  • Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to appreciate what you have accomplished at the end of the day.
  • Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down or replay them in your mind.
  • 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.

Self-care looks different for everyone, and it is important to find what you need and enjoy. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you.

Learn more about healthy practices for your mind and body .

When should I seek professional help?

Seek professional help if you are experiencing severe or distressing symptoms that have lasted 2 weeks or more, such as:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
  • Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning because of mood
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in things you usually find enjoyable
  • Inability to complete usual tasks and activities
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness

How can I find help?

If you have concerns about your mental health, talk to a primary care provider. They can refer you to a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker, who can help you figure out the next steps. Find tips for talking with a health care provider about your mental health.

You can learn more about getting help on the NIMH website. You can also learn about finding support  and locating mental health services  in your area on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

Originally posted on National Institute of Mental Health

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