Self-Care Strategies for Mental Health

Aaron Baker
Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
06/20/24  10:23 AM PST

In today’s fast-paced world, maintaining mental health can often take a back seat to the laundry list of daily life tasks. However, managing your mental health contributes to your overall wellbeing and should be prioritized. Here are some strategies to help you nurture your mental health.

  1. Prioritize Sleep

A lack of sleep can exacerbate stress, anxiety, and depression. Create a restful environment by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and establish a regular sleep routine, aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

  1. Stay Physically Active

Exercise is medicine. Physical activity releases endorphins which are natural mood lifters. Whether it’s a physical or occupational therapy appointment, a seated yoga session, or a vigorous workout, find an activity you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine. You’ll never end a workout wishing you did not do it!

  1. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Meditation helps reduce stress and increase awareness of the present moment. These practices can improve your ability to manage emotions and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Start by focusing on breathing for a few minutes a day and gradually increase.

  1. Maintain a Balanced Diet

What you eat can significantly impact your mental health. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins provides the nutrients your brain needs to function optimally. Limit the intake of processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine.

  1. Stay Connected

Social support can provide comfort and reduce feelings of isolation. Maintain regular contact with friends and family, whether through in-person visits, phone calls, or video chats.

  1. Engage in Hobbies and Activities You Enjoy

Whether it’s reading, gardening, painting, or playing an instrument, engaging in hobbies can be a great way to unwind and recharge. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

  1. Limit Screen Time

Excessive screen time can contribute to stress and anxiety. Set boundaries for your screen use, even consider designating screen-free times, especially before bed.

  1. Practice Gratitude

Even in my paralyzed body, I greet each morning with “Thank You Body”. Try keeping a gratitude journal and write down things you are thankful for each day. This practice can help shift your focus from what’s missing to what you have.

  1. Seek Professional Help When Needed

Most Importantly… there is NO shame in seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapy or counseling can provide valuable support and strategies for managing mental health challenges. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Self-care is not a one-time activity, but a continuous commitment to yourself. Incorporating some of these strategies into your daily routine can have a huge impact on your mental health. Make a pledge to prioritize self-care and mental wellness—you deserve it.

In Health,

Aaron Baker

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