Every once in a while check in with yourself and see how you are doing? Self-care, self-help, and self-love are some of the most common words that we see every day. Given the abundance of knowledge available to us about self-care, most of us are living with a set of preconceived notions about what wellness should look like.

The irony about self-care and wellness is that it is essential to perform well in all the other areas of our lives. Research has shown that nurturing our mind, body and spirit can help us in being more efficient.

It can be about muting a chat, or an Instagram thread that is causing angst, or maybe it’s about finding a therapist to support you. To notice what you need, start by simply figuring out when you feel invigorated and when you feel drained or overwhelmed. What makes you feel good? What makes you angry or sad? The best way to take care of yourself is to take time off for your mental health. 

A Delhi-based clinical psychologist, Dr Samriddhi Khatri shared some tips on practising self-care routines to improve our mental health. Self-care is about getting in tune with your body and mind. Researches suggest that we should not ignore cues our body sends us, just like we won’t ignore the oil light on your car. Studies and Research have shown the positive effects of looking after yourself. According to a recent analysis in the New York Times, self-care means “thinking you’re great”.  

Dr Samriddhi said, “Mental health includes all aspects of one’s life – physical, emotional or psychological wellness and social well-being. And self-care can play a vital role in enhancing our well-being and maintaining our mental health.” 

Self-care looks different for everyone, and it is important to find what you need and enjoy. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. Ways to practice SELF-CARE:

  1. Exercising 

Exercising improves mood, boosts energy, provides better sleep, prevents combating diseases and helps in maintaining a body image. Exercising can actually help in increasing our life span. If exercise could be made into medicine, it would have a million-dollar industry going because of its mental and physical health benefits. 

Also Read: Study finds link between exercising and better mental health

Dr Samriddhi explained, “30 to 40 minutes of physical exercise each day can help reduce the stress hormones and improve our health. Of course, you don’t have to stick to this time limit. You can start with shorter periods and increase gradually. Even taking a walk in the park or doing less intense activities is a great place to begin.”

It’s essential to find ways to make exercise fun and inculcate the habit in your life. Finding a workout partner, and scheduling a time, can help you keep going. 

Also Read: Here’s a 10-minute morning workout routine to start your day

  2. Learning to Have Fun!

Focus on the activities that bring joy in life. The old saying” laughter is the best medicine”, isn’t just a saying. Research shows that laughter reduces tension, and anxiety improves the immunity system and can help alleviate pain.

According to Dr Samriddhi, “‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – holds true in our lives. Because we are so busy all the time, often we don’t have time to enjoy ourselves. Most importantly, many don’t consider it essential. This ultimately leads to a lack of motivation and burnout. So, take some time out of your day to do any activity you like. It can be going on a vacation, having dinner with loved ones, going to the spa, shopping or more. Basically, do something that keeps you alive and is fun.” 

Indulging in fun activities can also help in succeeding and improving other areas of life. A Business expert pointed out that “having fun” is often the key to performing better in your career. A work problem can be made as a fun activity rather than a challenge, it becomes more motivating to find creative solutions. 

  3. Set Small Targets in Life

Dr Samriddhi says, “Set small achievable goals for yourself throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be a huge task and could be based on your priority for that particular time. So that once you achieve them, you can give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate. It will help you stay motivated and less stressed.”

Setting small goals brings in a sense of achievement within us. They enhance our confidence to take up bigger goals in life. Every small win leads to a bigger Goal and purpose. 

  4. Learn to say NO

With so many things demanding our attention, it’s easier to get overwhelmed and overburdened with work. But what would happen if we say “NO”? Things may seem urgent and important but marking a boundary helps prioritize what and when needs to be done. Setting boundaries on your time and work is also essential for well-being. The power of NO helps a person get space to say yes to new opportunities and experiences and reduces the mental burden. 

According to Dr Samriddhi “Saying no to things that do not fit your idea of life. Because every time you do something to please others or because people are doing it, ultimately, you will not have gained any contentment from doing that task. It does not mean you have to make reckless choices. You can make your own calculated decisions based on what fits and doesn’t into your scheme of life.”

  5. Get restful sleep 

Dr Samriddhi said, “Getting an adequate amount of sleep and good quality of sleep is essential for our mind and body because it is during sleep that our brain processes the information that we have received throughout the day. So, sleep about 6-8 hours each night. Practising good sleep hygiene can also help, like maintaining a proper sleep schedule or avoiding screen time before going to bed. These steps can enhance your sleep quality.”

Also Read: 5 ways sleep deprivation affects your hormonal balance

  6. Eat healthily 

There is a very strong food-mood connection. A balanced diet and plenty of water can help improve energy levels. Healthy food is the foundation of good mental and physical health. Food is the ultimate form of nourishment for the mind and body. It is very crucial to include a variety of food items in the diet because some nutrients boost the mood, others provide energy, some balance the hormones and others provide better sleep. There is no one specific food item that gives everything. Good quality food at the right time in the right amount is the mantra for a healthy mind and body. 

“Whenever we talk about emotional and mental health disorders, the first three things we focus on are our sleep, mood and appetite. If we can manage these three aspects of our life, we automatically feel a lot better. So, maintaining good food habits and having proper meals on time is essential. Eating on time, taking care of your appetite and having a balanced diet by removing fatty foods and adding fruits and veggies can improve one’s health. Additionally, staying hydrated improves energy and reduces stress, Dr Samriddhi said.

Also Read: Artificial colours, sweeteners and other common food additives to avoid

  7. Practising Gratitude 

An attitude of gratitude is an important step toward self-care. Generally, materialism, envy, cynicism, and narcissism are the four reasons which prevent us from being grateful. 

According to Dr Samriddhi, “Practicing gratitude by maintaining a gratitude journal and counting the smallest of your blessings, helps bring positive emotions in your life. It also helps to go back to your journal and read what you have written when you feel hopeless.” 

Researches show that practising gratitude on a daily basis enhances optimism towards life, provides better sleep and reduces anxiety levels and depression. It brings in a feeling of abundance and removes the focus from any lack. It also depicts that practising Gratitude can help in reshaping the brain. 

  8. Mindfullness 

Dr Samriddhi said, “Practicing mindfulness is also an important self-care step. You can start by doing any small daily activity you enjoy or that helps you relax, like eating or drinking water. Many times we don’t even remember what we had for breakfast in our fast-paced lives. So, next time when you are having a meal, feel the texture of the food, enjoy the taste, smell it, and see the colours. This will allow you to enjoy the dish and eat as much as is required.”

  9. Taking a Break and Relaxing 

Dr Samriddhi explained, “Adding a few minutes of relaxation or breaks in your day is vital. You can start with five minutes twice or thrice a day and gradually increase the duration as per your requirements and comfort. You can do basic deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing exercises in these moments. You can also try advanced breathing exercises, but it is advisable to consult a professional before going forward to understand the dos and don’ts in a better way.

Exploring relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises enhances self-care. It rejuvenates the mind and body for future tasks and removes tiredness and monotony. 

  10. Social Support

“It is necessary to have a social support group around you during difficult times – it can be your friends, family or relatives. We need meaningful connections in our lives – people who can listen to our problems and joys or a group of people to fall back on in difficult times,” Dr Samriddhi said. Meaningful Relationships motivate us, inform us, and help us grow. 

Self-care looks different and unique for everyone. It is very important that we find what fits best for us. In the end, Dr Samriddhi added that the key to practising all these self-care tips is “consistency”. If one wants to maintain their emotional well-being and mental health, then they have to be consistent to see the results.

Also Read: Feeling dull or bloated? Here are three home remedies you must try