Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week! During this week, many national and local organizations seek to educate communities on the importance of different mental health initiatives and to reduce the stigma that comes along with mental illness. Getting involved is important, of course, but so is finding ways to improve your own mental health through practicing self-care. In fact, self-care is one of the most critical components of sound mental health! Looking to add some self-care into your daily routine but don’t know where to start? Here are some easy general self-care practices to try!

1. Declutter and Get Organized

Decluttering and organizing your space can greatly impact your mental health! In a study done by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers found that women who “described their homes as cluttered or full of unfinished projects were more depressed, fatigued, and had higher levels of cortisol than women who felt their homes were restful and restorative!” Piles of things to do and messy stacks of papers can seriously take a toll on your mood. By taking care of these things ASAP and clearing out and sprucing up your space, you’ll find that you feel happier and more relaxed, which can drastically improve your mental health.

2. Sleep

The Consumer Report found that roughly 68% (164 million Americans), struggle with sleep at least once a week. Because sleep has a huge effect on our physical and emotional state, it’s important to make sure that you are catching enough zzzs throughout the week. Make sleep a part fo your self-care routine by optimizing your room for sleep around bedtime — cut down on distractions like electronics, use room-darkening curtains to keep the sun from peeking through, reduce your every day stresses through techniques like delegation, and of course, limit all caffeine and sugar before trying to fall asleep.

3. Exercise

Exercising daily can drastically improve your mental health — that much is obvious! Daily exercise can boost your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your sleep, eating habits, and self-esteem. Find ways to incorporate some activity into your daily routine even when you can’t get to the gym. Take a group fitness class at your local gym! Play some tennis or wall ball with your friends! Dance! Walk when you can! There are so many ways to get active and it’s important to find a routine that works for you and an exercise style that doesn’t feel like so much of a chore! Even 30 minutes of activity daily can greatly improve your mood and serve as the perfect method of self-care!

4. Take a Mental Health Day

We all need a break every once in a while. If you’re feeling particularly burnt out or overwhelmed, it might be time for a break in the form of a mental health day. A break from work can “provide distance, literally and emotionally, in ways that can facilitate better-coping strategies for addressing” daily stresses from inside and out of the office. In taking a mental health day, it’s important to be mindful of who exactly you might be affecting in taking a break. While there’s no need to feel bad about it, planning these days in accordance with deadlines and important meetings is a surefire way to make sure that you don’t fall behind on important work (and as a result, ensure that you don’t feel guilty about missing out.)

5. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is “the process of using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings, and physical cues when eating.” Typically, this involves appreciating your food, learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food, and learning to distinguish between true hunger and non-hunger triggers for eating. This process is important because it can shape your overall relationship with food and promote weight loss and effectively reduce stress.

Self-care comes in many different forms. This personal practice can range from manifestations to spa treatments to spending time doing your favorite hobbies. When we practice self-care, it’s important to do things that make you feel good!

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