Self-care means taking the time to do the things that help you live well, and improve both your physical, and mental health. Mental self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase 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:
- Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking per day can help boost your mood and help 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, stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeine and processed foods.
- Proper sleep. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Put away devices 30 minutes before bed. The blue light from the screen makes it harder for your brain to fall into sleep mode.
- Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or Wellness program apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other health activities you enjoy.
- 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 are taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to accomplish.
- Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of the people, places and things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down every night or replay them in your mind.
- Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
- Stay connected. reach out to your friends and family members who can provide emotional support, and practical help.
Self-care will look different for each of us. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. In addition, although self-care is not a cure for mental health illnesses, understanding what causes or triggers your symptoms and what coping techniques work for you, can help manage your mental health.
If some of these severe, or distressing, symptoms are present in your daily life and have lasted at least two weeks, you should seek professional help:
- Difficulty sleeping
- appetite changes that result in unwanted weight change
- struggling to get out of bed in the morning because of mood
- difficulty concentrating
- loss of interest of things you usually find enjoyable
- inability to perform usual daily functions and responsibilities
Don’t wait until your symptoms are overwhelming. Talk about your concerns with Can-Am interventions, your Primary Health provider or other mental health professional to receive a self-care plan for recovery.
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