May is mental health awareness month. It can be difficult to take care of ourselves when we have other demands on our time, but taking care of ourselves is a necessary first step to our well-being and helps us be present for others. Over the past few years, we’ve all become more aware of how important our mental health is, and we want to highlight some practical tips for daily use.
It’s okay to explore new ways to take care of ourselves in order to stay healthy.
You may be familiar with self-care, but when you’re feeling emotionally and mentally exhausted it can be difficult to think of ways to care for yourself. Below is a list of some ideas to help refresh your self-care activities. Remember, this is not an exhaustive list and what helps one person may not be helpful for someone else. It’s okay to explore new ways to take care of ourselves in order to stay healthy. While self-care is a great first step to improved mental health, sometimes we need more. If you need ongoing mental health support, it’s important to seek additional help through a mental health provider.
Here’s a list of some practical ways you can take care of your mind, body, and spirit.
- Listen to Music. Listening to music or playing an instrument can be very therapeutic. Music can help us express our emotions in a unique way.
- Be creative. Paint, draw, color, do a puzzle, write, or try a new hobby you’re interested in. Being creative can help express emotion and get it out into the open versus keeping it inside where it can fester.
- Journal. This can be as simple as recounting your day and how you felt about it. Journaling either at the beginning or end of the day can help you work out stress. Physically write it down and leave it in your journal instead of taking up space in your mind. This can also be a helpful reflection activity as you remember the good things that happen throughout the week, and it can show any progress you have made over time.
- Spend time with friends and family. Either in person, a video call, or over the phone, it can be helpful to verbally process how you’re feeling and make a meaningful connection with others. It can help you know you’re not alone and others are rooting for you.
- Find a change in scenery. Changing your surroundings can often help if you feel stuck. By focusing on something else, whether a person or task (such doing a puzzle), you can take your mind off the stress and give your mind some needed rest. Consider going outside (walk, garden, etc.) or go out to eat or get coffee with a trusted friend.
- Cuddle with your pet. If you have a pet, you already know that animals have a unique ability to calm and relieve stress.
- Spend some time organizing or cleaning. This can also have physical benefits as it provides light exercise, and it will also feel good, mentally, giving you a sense of accomplishment.
- Move your body. For some people, going to the gym is a form of self-care. But you don’t have to belong to a gym; anything that allows you to move your body can be beneficial. For example: go for a bike ride or a walk outside, stretch, dance to your favorite song, kayak, go fishing, play a favorite sport, etc.
- Go outside. Whether this is reading a book or going for a walk, fresh air can help relieve stress.
- Take a nap. Pure and simple. Even if you don’t fall asleep, rest will help your body deal with stress and help give you a more positive perspective.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write down all the things you’re thankful for or read through notes that others have given you.
- Read an uplifting book or scripture. This is another way to help your mind focus on something else, outside your situation. Scripture reminds us of God’s love, grace, sovereign plan, and provision for us despite difficult circumstances.
- Pray. God loves you and hears your prayers. He will give you peace and strength to persevere. There is no emotion, situation, or stress that is too big for God to take notice and bring peace.
- Use mindful breathing techniques. Concentrating or focusing on your breathing or using tapping techniques helps to regulate your central nervous system to reduce stress and anxiety. If you’re interested in learning more, talk to your mental health provider.
If you’re struggling with feelings of hopelessness, are considering hurting yourself, or need additional and ongoing mental health support, reach out for help today. Call the Crisis Hotline at 988. There’s always someone available to talk.
No matter what self-care activities you try, take time to take care of yourself. You’re worth it!