Looking after your mental health is key to overall health. We know this, don’t we? And yet so many of us don’t prioritise taking that evening walk to bathe in the energy of nature around us, or booking the time in our daily diaries to meditate.
Taking care of mental health doesn’t need to be all ‘woo–woo’ either. Committing to self care can be as simple as introducing the practice of mindfulness into our daily lives, or listening to our intuition when it comes to understanding emotions and reactions to external events in our lives.
It’s well known that the connections between the endorphins released with exercise help us to feel better overall. Even if you can only manage 15 minutes a day, as the well know brand says, just do it!
Immerse yourself in nature
Equally well recognised as restorative, we humans often love to surround ourselves with plants, trees, water and fresh air. The great news for Aussies is that even in the biggest of our cities, this can be achieved in a lunch break, after–work swim and a weekend getaway. Studies show that we only need a couple of hours in nature to boost our sense of wellbeing.
Take some time out for you
This could be as simple as spending some time alone (if you’re heading towards the introvert side of the spectrum), or spending some time with friends (if you feel the need for people connection). Other self-soothing practices include going out for a quality meal, spending time with loved ones, or sleeping in on the weekend!
As social animals, we need each other. Connection needn’t be in person though, so if lockdowns or social distancing are keeping you apart, pick up the phone, schedule a video or face time session, or even write a good, old-fashioned letter! Self-care also means nurturing our closest relationships and showing kindness to ourselves and to others.
Watch your self talk
Our background dialogue in our heads is sometimes unhealthy, so look out for common habits like putting ourselves down, overly criticising ideas, behaviour or appearance. Self care means being kind to yourself first and foremost.
Create a gratitude diary
Research shows that cultivating gratitude pays off in spades. You can do this as often as you like –daily, weekly or even annually. The hard data is in the daily practice of self–reflection and recording what you’re grateful for in your life. You’ll feel better and it will help build perspective on your highs and lows and everything in between.
Sleep, and eat well
It might seem like a no-brainer, but there are countless reasons why we don’t always get the sleep we need or eat the best food for our bodies. Self care means getting the right sleep and eating good food for your own unique constitution. Sleep experts also say that you shouldn’t sleep longer than a couple of hours outside of your usual routine, so the theory of catching up on the weekend doesn’t always work.
Take the time out this month to remember ‘feel good February’ and consider extending your practices to the whole year!