Stress. Burnout. Comparison.
We’ve all been there, right?
So many women aim to do it all—they want to thrive at home and in their career, make their loved ones happy, and take on everything they possibly can with a good attitude. While the intent here is nothing short of positive, far too often women—and quite a few men—put their personal needs on the backburner.
This can wreak havoc on our mental health.
Fortunately, there are a number of self-care strategies women can leverage to reduce stress and live healthier, happier lives. This, by proxy, will help them find peace internally, professionally, and in the context of their families.
Taking Stock of Your Mental Health
We have just one question for you: How are you really feeling?
It’s a busy time of year—there’s no denying that—and some of us may find ourselves more susceptible to mental health issues as our own needs get buried in the chaos of the New Year.
First off, a quick overview of mental health. The term refers to our social, emotional, and psychological well-being. It affects how we manage stress, engage with other people, and make decisions in our lives.
This is why it’s so important that we take care of ourselves.
Burnout, however, is real. And in the Instagram age—an era rife with fear of missing out (FOMO) and feelings of self-doubt—countless women find their mental health in a precarious position. Many factors contribute to mental health challenges, including the following:
- Biological factors like genetics and brain chemistry
- Family history of mental health struggles
- Environmental factors like trauma or stressful life experiences
If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety, sadness, or self-doubt, we want you to take stock of your mental health and make decisions accordingly. We cannot emphasize enough that all aspects of your well-being matter.
5 Surefire Self-Care Strategies
Positive mental health allows women to realize their potential, cope effectively with stress, work productively, and make meaningful connections in their families and communities.
This is where self-care comes in. While taking care of oneself may sound self-indulgent, or even selfish, the opposite is true. When we practice self-care, we afford ourselves the time and resources we need to take care of others. To this end, few things are more important than making informed, empowered decisions that help to ward off chronic stress.
You see, chronic stress can lead to a weakened immune system and affect our ability to make good choices. It can result in problems ranging from sleep issues to weight gain—but stress doesn’t have to be a constant in your life. Women can be proactive by making a point of practicing self-care.
To boost your mental health and incorporate self-care into your daily routine, consider the following strategies.
- Schedule time for yourself.
While adding to your busy schedule may sound counterintuitive, enough cannot be said about the benefits of alone time. Spending just 30 minutes doing something you enjoy each day will leave you feeling recharged and ready to jump back into your list of obligations.
There are a number of things you can do to relax and recalibrate. You could kick off that meditation practice you’ve been meaning to start, spend time in nature, read the novel that’s been on your nightstand for months now, or take a warm bath filled with essential oils. The most important thing here is that you schedule this time and truly make it a priority in your life.
- Build a support network.
We discussed the benefits of alone time. Now let’s jump to the opposite end of the spectrum. Human beings are social creatures, and it’s crucial that we have people to lean on when we’re feeling tired, depressed, or overwhelmed. Keeping negative emotions bottled up is far from ideal.
The key thing here, though, is to be mindful of the people you include in your support network. Rather than surrounding yourself with negativity, aim to cultivate relationships with likeminded people who are equally interested in improving the quality of their own lives. Aim to find a partner who is on the same page as you, and make friends with other empowered women who share your thoughts and feelings about mental health.
- Pay attention to your physical health.
Do you crave junk food when you’re stressed out? You’re not the only one. After a long, tough day, many women would rather kick back with a pint of ice cream than the bowl of steamed veggies that’s been sitting in their fridge for who-knows-how-many days.
But it’s essential to recognize that your physical health matters. When we’re in good shape physically—when we’re well-rested, active, and nutritious—we are better-equipped to make decisions that will strengthen our mental health. So make exercise a top priority (start with an activity you enjoy, like volleyball or a short jog around your neighborhood), and breathe deeply the next time you experience a questionable food craving. Instead of eating to fill a void, indulge in healthy foods that truly nourish you. And when you’re really craving a sweet treat, feel free to indulge—in moderation, of course.
- Take a break from social media.
While there’s no need to delete your social accounts altogether, a short cleanse from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat can work wonders on your mental health. Taking a short break will promote better sleep and allow you to spend more time focusing on meaningful in-person interactions.
If this sounds appealing, note that you can structure your social media break in any number of ways. Think about taking one full day off each week, spending an entire week away from social media, or even limiting your use of social networks to certain hours. Logging off after dinner until you wake up the next morning will, for instance, reduce anxiety and FOMO. It’ll also allow you to spend more time focusing on things you truly care about.
- Learn to say no.
Setting boundaries is easier said than done. While your inclination might be to say yes to every invitation or request that comes your way, take a step back and think before you add another item to your jam-packed schedule. You don’t want to overcommit yourself, and you certainly don’t want to take on yet another task, only to find that you don’t have the time or energy to put forth your best effort.
In short, we want to give you permission to say no—to think carefully about what’s on your plate, and avoid taking on projects or attending events that don’t serve you. Be polite, of course, but make a habit of determining whether each new request will add or detract from your overall health and wellness. Both your confidence and mental health will experience a boost after learning to say no.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
While the self-care best practices outlined in this guide are meant to enhance your mental health, we want to reiterate that there is no shame in asking for help if you are feeling hopeless, helpless, or overwhelmed. Please do not hesitate to consult a loved one or a mental health professional if needed.