Taking care of your mental health can be challenging all on its own. While seeking professional help, resources, and family support and considering medications are important, it’s equally crucial to recognize that your lifestyle routine can also play a significant role in your mental health journey. This is where self-care practices come in, empowering you to take charge of your mental health awareness journey.

The Importance & Benefits of Self-Care for Mental Health

What is self-care? According to licensed clinical professional counselor Anne Appel, “While sometimes those events can improve our well-being for a short dose of dopamine, getting into a routine of self-care is filled with more micro-actions for increased physical and mental well-being.”  Implementing the following self-care regimens can be small stepping stones to a vast improvement in managing your mental health.

Self-care can have different meanings depending on your career, lifestyle, and availability. When you practice self-care, the many benefits can help create a long-lasting positive effect. Taking care of yourself can accomplish so much more from a physical and mental standpoint. In addition, it can branch out to your personal and professional life, helping you manage the obstacles in front and inside of you.

According to Deborah Gilman, a licensed psychologist, “Firstly, it reduces stress levels by allowing you to unwind and recharge, thereby enhancing your resilience in the face of life’s challenges.” Furthermore, three benefits include self-awareness, improvement in physical health, and healthier relationships. To dive further into detail, achieving more self-awareness helps you understand and manage your emotions, thoughts, and needs.

Physical health is also crucial during your mental health journey; making the time to be active and get good sleep and nutrition helps nurture the body and, thus, the mind. Lastly, your relationships with individuals can improve when taking this self-care route. Having more self-respect and self-compassion will help you build stronger bonds, understanding, and support with your friends, family, coworkers, and significant others and for yourself.

This process of self-care may seem impossible. There are many ways to start your mental health journey, and everyone has unique lives and ways to mold these new lifestyle changes into their routine. Here are 5 main ways to add self-care to your mental health journey. Keep in mind that you can modify your care routine or add to it; this is your journey to experience.

Music Can Move the Mind

Music is a powerful tool that can help relax the mind and reduce stress and anxiety. It can be an overwhelming day. Sometimes, we need a little break to separate our emotions from how our day is going. Bringing music to your daily routine, for example, adding it to your commute or walk before or after work, school, or any plan can set a different tone in your day. According to licensed clinical psychologist Julia Corcoran, “Do something that you associate with happiness (laughing, dancing, or even faking a smile), and it can make you feel happier!” She is exactly right!

Creating a playlist of songs that make you feel calm, confident, and memorable is a great way to ramp up your mood. Whether driving, outside or staying in, music is accessible anywhere you want to create a peaceful and fun headspace to feel the lyrics and listen to the sounds that ground you.

self-care for mental health

Pamper Your Body

When you think of self-care, the first thing that can pop into your head is ‘spa day’ or ‘book a massage.’ However, you don’t need to go above and beyond to schedule daily appointments. Small ways exist to create a body-pampering experience in the comfort of your home. Remember to start small and do what you are comfortable with, that can be part of your unique routine.

Part of taking care of your mental health also includes your body. Giving yourself gentle comfort and hygiene is refreshing and can improve your mood. Decide what spa day you want. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Essential oils or scented candles before bed.
  • Foot soak
  • For primary nail care, you can include cuticle oil, filing, and nail cutting.
  • Doing a facial with water, nourishing face serums, creams, or face masks.
  • Bubble bath or shower with favorite scented soaps and body scrubs for exfoliation.

self-care for mental health

Just Breath

Breathwork can be therapeutic, grounding yourself and finding relief from what life throws at you. This can help reduce anxiety, anger, depression, and grief. Here are two examples of breathwork techniques you can try which focus on breathing in and out:

Circular breathing is continuous breathing in and out without holding your breath at any point. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is breathing through your nose while counting to four, keeping your breathing while counting to seven, and then exhaling through your mouth while counting to eight.

Remember to seek the guidance of a professional to lead you through these techniques properly.

Taking care of your mental health can be a taxing experience; there can be setbacks and resistance, and that is okay. In addition to breathing, engaging with the five senses is taking it a step further to grounding you. Gilman suggests, “Notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.” This exercise can bring awareness into the present moment by painting a picture of your surroundings as a focal point.

Sleep Soundly

Getting a good night’s sleep will help the body and mind reset for the next day. Being more aware of your sleeping habits and routine can be a game changer when self-caring for your mental health. According to Gilman, “Establish a consistent sleep routine and aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.

Here are a few suggestions on how to set the mood for a good sleep:

  • Turn off electronic devices before bedtime.
  • Read for ten minutes to half an hour before bed.
  • Having an herbal tea can calm the nerves and soothe your body.
  • Playing calm music, nature sounds or white noise for a set time can help you reach a calming state.
  • Having a diffuser emit essential oils such as lavender and chamomile will help your mood and relax you before you sleep.

self care for mental health

Journaling

Journaling can be a useful tool that is for your eyes only to vent and bear your thoughts about fear, anger, anxiety, grief, and experiences that are happening in your life you want to talk about or reflect on. Taking the time to write a little bit every day, every week, every other day is a small positive stepping stone into healing.

This can be a creative self-care outlet that can help those who have trouble expressing or processing emotions out loud at the moment. We all need a little time to process how we feel, journaling is a great way to visualize your feelings on a page. Writing things down can help you regulate your thoughts.

Here are some example prompts on how to get started:

  • Write about negative feelings you have towards yourself that are false.
  • Where is your safe space? Describe it. Are there other people there?
  • What does the word forgiveness mean to you? Whom might you need to forgive?

self-care

Conclusion

There are various ways of starting small actions of self-care. The most important part is to stay consistent to see authentic, lasting results. While mental health is a journey with trials and tribulations, it is not linear. Self-care starts with you, choosing what forms of self-care benefit your life is a start to long-term healing.

We encourage everyone in the K&T community to join this conversation in the comments section below. What is your favorite self-care routine?  As we continue to share what we know, help us by becoming a subscriber. Share K&T with your friends and family.