5 Self-Care Habits for Better Mental Health

5 Self-Care Habits for Better Mental Health
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

You might have noticed that “self-care” and mental health strategies are getting popular. Sometimes people talk about mindfulness and Wellness. They have different roots and practices, but both of them have the same goal: better mind-body balance. In addition to increasing your well-being, they’ll also make you feel more in control of your life.

“Without health, life is not life. It is only a state of languor and suffering.
-Francois Rabelais-

Whether you’ve already gotten into one of these practices or not, it’s worth remembering a few simple things. Good mental health has a lot to do with habits and strategies everyone should develop. It will take a lot of willpower and a bit of creativity and consistency.

That’s where you start to see mental health self-care as a very personal activity you can use to air out, sanitize, and oxygenate your mental environment. Also remember that we’re all part of a physical and social environment. Your settings affect your balance too.

What you especially need for self-care is a holistic approach. That means prioritizing, focusing, and filtering all the stimuli coming at you to live in greater harmony. Now let’s look at some strategies…

Self-care habits for mental health.

1. Self-care habits: learn to recognize the spark before it becomes a flame

A large part of your emotional experiences start off with “sparks,” small bursts of negative feeling in your brainThese small shocks usually come from imbalances in your environment.

For example, you notice something you don’t like, but don’t say anything. Or say there’s a proposal you don’t agree with, but you do it anyway. Maybe there’s a situation you need to resolve, but you put it off…

When these little sparks build up one after another, they end up turning into a flame. Your mind will be out of resources and you’ll end up “burnt,” worn out in every sense. O ne strategy you should put some time and effort into is recognizing those triggers. Learn to recognize the stimuli that make you uncomfortable. These you’ll need to process as soon as possible.

Don’t leave for tomorrow the problem that’s bothering you today.

2. Self-care habits: clear priorities, better decisions

Every good athlete knows their body. They know their limits and train every day to stay fit and improve their skills. The work doesn’t just come from nowhere, though. It actually comes from a well-thought out plan with clear priorities and daily goals.

When it comes to self-care for your mental health, it’s also good to have a plan and daily priorities. You should never leave the house without getting dressed with a purpose, putting on your goals along with your shoes, and adding a dash of motivation to your breakfast…

This is how you start to make your way down the complex paths in life better equipped to decide what’s good for you and what’s bad for you. Better equipped to decide what you should set aside so that you can put your well-being first.

3. Self-care habits: relationships based on give and take

Another foundation of good mental health is to pay attention to balance in your relationships. Any imbalanced relationships will have a huge emotional cost. They involve investing time, effort, energy, and affection into people who don’t give you that same energy back, because they only take.

woman making a heart with her hand

Obviously not all of your relationships will be perfectly symmetrical when it comes to give and take. One great example of this is the relationship between parents and their children. But you still need your most important relationships (significant other, family, friends) to have balance. Sometimes that just means making them more symmetrical. 

4. Self-care habits: learning to put up with hardship

People who resist hardship, failure, loss, and mistakes will just get stuck in discouragement, angry, and unhappy. Self-care, on the other hand, is learning to grow and expand as a person.

You can only do that when you learn to overcome your obstacles and put up with hardship. Life will always be complicated and tricky (to put it nicely), so what you have to do is learn to manage it.

That means you have to accept both the black and the white. But if you want to do that you have to start by accepting that you’re hurt. Denying it, looking away, or getting angry about it every day aren’t healthy options.

5. Self-care habits: a balanced mind means a centered mind

Clifford Saron is a neuroscientist who works with the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California-Davis. His most interesting research focuses on how training our attention influences our emotions. He says that a centered, balanced mind will always lead to well-being and a healthy brain. 

Another thing he says is that most of us have no idea how plastic our neurological circuits are. That’s why if you learn to focus on the present instead of the past or the nonexistent future every day, you’ll see more possibilities in everything. You’ll also feel more optimistic and less anxious.

Meditating in the stars.

If you want to learn how to train your attention, meditation can be a big help. But there’s one other thing you can’t forget: a  more centered mind also needs a more relaxed body. So you still have to make sure you’re taking care of basic things like sleeping well at night, taking 15-20 minute naps, walking, stretching to release muscle tension, and eating a balanced diet.

To wrap up, just remember that self-care habits have incredible power to improve your mental health. Why don’t you try out the ones that fit what you need? Start to invest in yourself today.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.