Self-care tips to help your mental health

The advice we’re given on airplanes — to put on your oxygen mask first before trying to help someone else — carries through many aspects of our lives and may even help ground us during difficult times. Simply put, in order to care for those you love, you must first care for yourself.

May is Mental Health Month, a nationwide observance created to increase awareness and resiliency when it comes to the 1 in 5 adults in the United States who may experience a mental illness in a given year.

With that in mind, Mental Health America recommends the following tips to help in a journey toward recovery, with a focus on self-care:

  • Prioritize a healthy diet, make sure you get enough sleep, incorporate daily exercise and avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Practice good hygiene. It may improve the way others view you and how you may feel about yourself, but there is another benefit, it may reduce the risk of illness.
  • Connecting with loved ones through video calls or messages may help build your sense of belonging.
  • Consider support groups as a tool to help connect during recovery. Some are even offered online for a convenient connection in a time of social distancing.
  • Discover what you enjoy every day: Whether it is cooking, dancing, watching a favorite TV show, gardening, art, or reading. Activities you love may help boost positive emotions.
  • Relaxation may help a lot, consider meditation, yoga, taking a bath or seeking the calming power of nature.

In a time when social interactions have shifted due to COVID-19 and states want us to stay at home, the power of connection may be more important than ever in your self-care journey.

Three tips for self care

1. Connect with yourself

Learning about your mental health may help you understand that any possible hard times you may be experiencing are not your fault. Try journaling about your experiences or making a list of your accomplishments to turn to positive thoughts, if you may be feeling low.

2. Connect with others

During COVID-19 and social distancing, connecting virtually with positive, loving people you care about and trust may ease stress and help your mood. If you need someone to reach out to, many organizations can refer you to free hotlines for help.

3. Connect to your community

One way to help feel emotionally strong and resilient in times of possible stress is to connect to a broad community. Consider virtually volunteering with a community organization that helps fill a need. Giving to others may help build strong community bonds, while boosting the connections that may be important for strong mental health.

Living with a mental health condition may be taxing emotionally, physically and mentally. Making self-care a priority not only may bring joy, it may help boost your ability to deal with stress, solve problems, think flexibly and even fight disease.

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