10 Self-Care Tips to Boost Your Mental Health

Because just this once, everyone else can wait.

1. Stop Hitting the Snooze Button
Many people actually build time for snoozing into their morning routine, believing it's a gentler way to wake up, but this actually causes sleep to be more disrupted, leaving the person feeling more sleepy, says Cindy T. Graham, a licensed psychologist. "Instead, sleep experts recommend being honest with yourself and setting the alarm for the time you actually get up," she says. "Your body will then learn to prepare for waking at that time and you will feel less tired over the course of the day."

2. Open the Blinds as Soon as You Rise
Aside from waking up, the first step in your morning routine should be opening the blinds. Even just five minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning is said to not only boost your vitamin D levels, but also helps balance your cortisol (aka stress) levels.

3. Get a Houseplant
Besides keeping air cleaner, exposure to plants can also boost your mood. How? According to a 2015 study, active interaction with indoor plants has been shown to possibly suppress nervous system activity and reduce blood pressure, leading to an overall sense of calm

4. Eat a Healthy Snack
Your body requires fuel—a mixture of proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates—to stay healthy, balanced, and functioning, says life coach Aida Bielkus, PhD. Instead of sugary snacks, which cause blood sugar to spike and crash, opt for quick and healthy alternatives like bananas with peanut butter, veggies with hummus, a handful of almonds, granola, or Greek yogurt with blueberries.

5. Learn to Say No
“Most often, stress is caused by having too much to do and too little time to do it,” says Jacqueline Schaffer, a board-certified doctor in Los Angeles. “Reduce your workload, prioritize your to-do list, and manage your time more effectively. This requires you to say no more often, and that’s perfectly okay!

6. Meditate for Five Minutes
Research shows that regular meditation can potentially undo the damaging effects of stress—and calms the part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response, says Aida Bielkus, PhD, life coach and cofounder of Health Yoga Life in Boston. Follow this self-care tip: “Set your phone timer for five minutes. Close your eyes.
Take a few deep breaths, and release any tension that your body is holding onto. If you begin to wander off into other thoughts, don’t judge yourself. Simply bring yourself back to the awareness of your breath,” she advises. (If you need more guidance, try one of these meditation apps.)

7.  Do Something Nice for Someone Else
Hold the door open for someone, pick up a piece of litter, buy lemonade from a neighbourhood kid's stand, smile at a stranger…wait, isn’t this supposed to be about you? According to researchacts of kindness boost the well-being of not only the giver but also the receiver and overall community.

8. Take it Outside
No matter how busy you are, experts say one of the best things you can do for yourself is to make it a habit to lace up your walking shoes and step outside for a breath of fresh air each day. “Doing this, even for a short increments at a time, provides you with many health benefits—both physical and mental,” says Emily Cosgrove, a licensed therapist and life coach in Ontario. 
Research suggests spending time outside helps you sleep better at night, reduces stress levels, boosts mental health, and stimulates the immune system.

9. Exercise Regularly
“Getting your heart rate up increases your happy hormones (serotonin, dopamine, etc.), thus improving your mood, pleasure, and reducing pain,” says Folden. And this doesn’t require long hours in the gym, six days a week. Something as simple as three to four days each week, walking briskly, attending your favourite Flourish class, or doing a quick 30-minute circuit routine can meet your needs. It all counts.

10. Spend time with Friends & Loved Ones
Laughter is the best medicine, and what better way to feel joy than by spending time with the people who matter the most to you? You don't need to plan an extravagant trip or experience to create memories and be merry—sometimes it's as simple as being in each other's presence to uplift spirits and support one another.


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