Mental health is an incredibly important part of your overall health. It includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Affecting how we think, feel, act, make choices, and relate to others. Mental health 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.
A well-balanced diet, a healthy sleep schedule, exercise, gut health, and hydration all affect our mental health and our physical health equally. Studies have shown that individuals who have chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or autoimmune disorders have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety. Our bodies and minds act as one unit and therefore it is important to care for both our emotional and mental states as well as our physical health.
This month and every month, we encourage our patients and community to focus on self-care. When it comes to your mental health, self-care 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 tips to help you get started with self-care:
1. Make sleep a priority
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Poor sleep is linked to mental health problems like stress and anxiety and physical problems like a weak immune system. Stick to a regular sleep routine.
2. Practice eating healthy
Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. Healthy food will help you focus, keep you energized, and will reduce mood fluctuations.
3. Get regular exercise
Physical health has a big impact on your mental health. Take up a sport, engage in outdoor activities like hiking or jogging or simply work out the way you like. Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day helps you to be physically and mentally healthy. It releases happy hormones that help you concentrate, sleep better, and feel better.
4. Drink more water
Did you know that the brain is made up of 73% water on average? While every organ in the body needs water to perform its actions properly, brain function can be severely impacted by dehydration- affecting not just physical health, but mental health as well. Most doctors recommend drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day, depending on the individual.
5. Change your mindset
Too often, we focus on the negatives while showing little appreciation for the beauty that is all around us. Cherish the good memories. Take time to be still and meditate more. Adopting a gratitude mindset puts you on the path to achieving the highest level of self-care.
6. Keep a gratitude list
Write down the things you’re thankful for! Make yourself note at least one per day, and you’ll be surprised to find that (even on your absolute worst days) there is always something small and beautiful to bring you joy.
7. Get some sunshine
Vitamin D is real, y’all! Try to get outside each day, whether it’s a long walk or just a few minutes sitting with your iced coffee during your work break. It might seem like it wouldn’t make a huge difference, but you’d be surprised what fresh air can do for the soul.
8. Disconnect from social media
If you’re one of those people who suffers from anxiety, depression or imposter syndrome brought on by the fake world of Instagram, delete the app! Or at the very least, limit your use of it. If you can’t stay away, do a follower clear-out: Unfollow any accounts that stress you out, and only follow ones that bring you joy and make you feel good.
9. Communicate with family
Let whoever you live with know where you’re at with your mental health. Whether it’s “I’m really going through it right now, I need you to check on me,” or “I’m in a bit of a funk right now, sorry if I snap at you,” letting others know allows them to care for you properly. It never hurts to have someone else looking out for you.
10. Book a therapy appointment
If you feel like this is necessary for you, consider booking an appointment with a therapist, whether in-person or virtually. Don’t be afraid to shop around until you find your perfect match. The right therapist will really get you, and want to help you grow and thrive.
We are here for you
For the month of May, Mental Health America and The Medical Group of South Florida are challenging you to make small positive changes in your life that can benefit your mind and your body. You may be surprised by how much positive impact one small change can have on your life.
Have you been experiencing severe mental illness symptoms that have lasted two weeks or longer? Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed, talk about your concerns with your primary care provider, who can refer you to a mental health specialist if needed.
If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, tell someone who can help right away or dial 911 in an emergency. You also can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.