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Taking care of your mental health is an ongoing process that extends beyond your therapy sessions. While therapy is an important part of mental health care, there are many things you can do on your own to maintain and improve your mental well-being. Here are some tips on how you can continue to take care of your mental health outside of therapy.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Being in the “here and now” can really help you decrease the fears about the future and the sadness about the past. It can help you reduce stress, improve your mood, and increase your self-awareness. You can practice mindfulness in many ways, such as meditation, yoga, or simply paying attention to your breath as you go about your day.
Exercise is not only good for your physical health but also your mental health. Regular exercise can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, boost your mood, and improve your self-esteem. Exercising lets your body release happy chemicals such as ‘endorphins’ which help elevate your mood! Try to find an exercise routine that you enjoy, whether it's jogging, swimming, dancing, or playing a sport.
Social support is crucial for good mental health. Make an effort to connect with friends, family, and other people who make you feel good. You can join a club, attend social events, or even volunteer to help others. A zoom/video call date with a friend who lives far may help too!
Sleep is essential for good mental health. Lack of sleep can lead to mood swings, irritability, and poor concentration. Try to establish a regular sleep routine, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. This is called sleep hygiene, and I typically help my clients establish good sleep hygiene habits as helpful tools in recovery.
What you eat can also affect your mental health. A balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help improve your mood, energy levels, and overall health. Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks, which can have a negative impact on your mental health.
It's important to take breaks and practice self-care to reduce stress and prevent burnout. You can take a relaxing bath, read a book, listen to music, or engage in any activity that helps you recharge and feel refreshed.
In conclusion, taking care of your mental health is an ongoing process that requires effort and dedication. While therapy is an important part of mental health care, there are many things you can do on your own to maintain and improve your mental well-being. By practicing mindfulness, exercising regularly, connecting with others, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and practicing self-care, you can enhance your mental health and lead a happier, more fulfilling life.