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14 Self-Care Practices You Can Do Today to Improve Mental Health

Ways to improve mental health

In today's fast-paced and demanding world, it's more important than ever to take care of ourselves. Self-care is essential for our mental health and overall well-being. It's about taking the time to do things that make us feel good, both physically and mentally.

And guess what? Self-care can be fun! It doesn't have to be boring or time-consuming. There are endless ways to take care of yourself, making it easy to find an activity that’s perfect for you.

So whether you're a fitness fanatic, a foodie, or a nature lover, there's a self-care practice out there for you. And the best part is, when you take care of yourself, you're not only doing yourself a favor, you're also making the world a better place.

Because when you're happy and healthy, you're better able to connect with others and make a positive impact on the world around you.

What is Self-Care? Exploring Different Perspectives

Self-care encompasses various aspects that contribute to overall well-being. It starts with making healthy lifestyle choices, which directly impact our physical health. And when we prioritize our physical self-care, we also experience improved mental and emotional well-being. Focusing attention inward on ourselves allows us to understand ourselves more deeply, know what we need to thrive, and ultimately, bring our best selves to any situation so we are kinder and more compassionate to others. 

  • Self-recognition is a vital aspect of self-care. Being aware of our bodies and promptly addressing emerging symptoms allows us to seek appropriate care in partnership with healthcare professionals. 
  • Self-monitoring is an integral part of self-care, as it involves regularly checking for signs of improvement or deterioration in our health and well-being. It can be as simple as tracking changes in our body, mood, or energy levels. Monitoring helps us identify patterns, recognize triggers, and make informed decisions about our health.
  • Self-management is the active engagement in managing symptoms. It may involve making lifestyle modifications or seeking support from healthcare professionals or support groups. We can enhance our well-being and achieve optimal health outcomes by actively participating in our care.

The Benefits of Self-Care

Self-care offers numerous benefits, empowering individuals to make informed health choices and improving well-being and quality of life. Believe it or not, it even contributes to healthcare efficiency, sustainability, and resource allocation, ultimately benefiting society far beyond the individual.

Committing to a regular self-care routine empowers individuals to:

  • Be proactive about their health
  • Prioritize well-being
  • Improve overall quality of life
  • Make better choices
  • Be present in situations with loved ones

These benefits may seem too good to be true! Let’s dive deeper into different kinds of self-care to enjoy all the benefits it has to offer. 

7 Essential Types of Self Care

There are seven essential types of self-care that encompass various aspects of our well-being. These practices go beyond surface-level relaxation and delve into nurturing our physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental needs. By understanding and incorporating these essential types of self-care into our lives, we cultivate a holistic approach to self-nurturing and promote overall well-being.

#1: Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care involves nurturing our bodies. By prioritizing our physical well-being, we can also enhance our mental and emotional health.

  • Prioritize Sleep: Adequate sleep is vital for rejuvenation and overall health. Establish a consistent sleep routine, create a sleep-friendly environment, and aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Engage in Regular Exercise: Physical activity improves our physical fitness, boosts our mood, and reduces stress. Find activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or dancing, and make time for them regularly.

#2: Social Self-Care

Building and maintaining meaningful connections with others is essential for our emotional well-being. Social self-care helps us build supportive relationships and create a sense of belonging.

  • Nurture Relationships: Set aside dedicated time for face-to-face interactions with friends and loved ones. Plan outings, visit the gym together, have meaningful conversations, and offer support to strengthen your relationships.
  • Set Boundaries: Learn to prioritize your own needs and establish healthy limits. Saying “no” when necessary and carving out personal time helps maintain a healthy balance between social interactions and self-care.

#3: Mental Self-Care

Taking care of our mental well-being is crucial for managing stress and enhancing our cognitive abilities. Engaging in activities that stimulate our minds and promote self-compassion can make a significant difference.

  • Engage in Stimulating Activities: Read books, solve puzzles, or explore new hobbies that challenge and inspire you. These activities keep your mind sharp and foster a sense of personal growth.
  • Practice Mindfulness and Self-Compassion: Begin a positive inner dialogue and engage in mindfulness practices such as meditation or journaling. Develop self-compassion by treating yourself with kindness and understanding.

#4: Spiritual Self-Care

Nurturing our spiritual side can provide a more profound sense of meaning, purpose, and connection. It's about exploring what resonates with you and finding practices that align with your beliefs.

  • Explore Your Beliefs: Engage in personal reflection, or explore practices that help you connect with your inner self.
  • Connect with Nature: Spend time outdoors, immerse yourself in natural environments, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. Engaging with nature can foster a sense of awe and spiritual connection.

#5: Emotional Self-Care

Managing and expressing our emotions in healthy ways is essential for overall well-being. Incorporating activities that help us acknowledge and process our feelings can significantly impact our emotional health.

  • Express and Process Emotions: Talk to a trusted friend or family member about how you feel. Engage in activities like journaling or creative expression to explore and release emotions in a safe and supportive manner.
  • Incorporate Leisure and Joy: Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Pursue hobbies, listen to music, watch uplifting movies, or engage in activities that recharge and uplift your spirits.

#6: Recreational Self-Care

Engaging in recreational activities that bring you joy and fulfillment provide a break from daily routines and help you recharge.

  • Practice Self-Care Through Hobbies: Dedicate time to engage in activities that you find enjoyable and fulfilling. Whether painting, gardening, playing a musical instrument, or any other hobby, prioritize time for self-expression.
  • Take Regular Breaks: Schedule short daily breaks to rest and recharge. Use this time for activities that provide a mental or physical escape from daily routines, such as walking or listening to calming music.

#7: Environmental Self-Care

Creating a peaceful and harmonious physical environment can considerably impact our overall well-being. By organizing our surroundings and connecting with nature indoors, we create a sanctuary for self-care.

  • Create a Peaceful Space: Organize and declutter your living or workspace. A tidy environment promotes calmness and reduces stress, allowing you to focus on self-care activities.
  • Connect with Nature Indoors: Incorporate elements like plants, natural lighting, or natural scents into your environment. These elements can evoke a sense of tranquility and bring the soothing benefits of nature indoors.

Embracing the seven essential types of self-care is the first step toward creating balance and fulfillment. By prioritizing our physical health, nurturing social connections, and honoring our emotional and environmental needs, we can cultivate a deep sense of self-care that radiates throughout every aspect of our lives. 

Why is Self Care Important? Developing a Personalized Self-Care Plan

Creating a personalized self-care plan is vital to incorporating self-care into daily life. Assess your needs, set realistic goals, and commit to prioritizing self-care activities that resonate with you.

At Planet Fitness, we look for ways to nurture our members' self-care beyond physical workouts. With growing awareness of mental health's importance, we understand self-care techniques now more than ever. The PF Black Card® includes access to several amenities that help members work out their minds and bodies. Many locations offer massage chairs, HydroMassage™, and total body enhancement sessions*. 

Remember, self-care is an ongoing journey, so be kind to yourself and prioritize your well-being in a way that’s unique to you! For inspiration to improve your physical self-care, check out hundreds of free workouts available in the PF App.

*Amenities and Perks subject to availability and restrictions. See home club for details.