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5 Self Care Habits In Honor Of World Mental Health Day

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

Tuesday, Oct. 8 is World Mental Health Day, a day to raise awareness about the realities of struggling with mental illness and what we can do to help ourselves and others. Even if you do not have a diagnosed disorder, every one of us has periods in our lives where we struggle and could use support. Many of us do not pay attention to our mental health until it is poor, but practicing positive habits is something that should be actively done every day in order to ensure that you can cope when you do go through tough times. Here are five things that you can implement into your daily life that can greatly benefit your mental health when practiced consistently:

1. Take care of your body

You may grumble at this one, but there is a reason everybody says this works: because it does. Just 30 minutes of daily exercise, even something as simple as a daily Hot Girl Walk, increases the level of dopamine in your brain. This leaves you feeling happier, more relaxed, and less anxious. Exercise also can make you feel better about yourself and your body, leading to higher self-esteem (this is not to say that you should solely be working out for aesthetic reasons — but in this world of incredibly strict beauty standards, a lot of our sadness and anxiety as young women comes from the way we look, and taking care of your body can definitely leave you appreciating everything it does for you). A consistent exercise routine that you enjoy in combination with a healthy diet and getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night can make a world of a difference in the way you feel day to day.

2. Make time for the things you love

As young adults, we live such busy lives that it feels like we don’t even have time to finish all of the things we need to do some days. But it is crucial to make time to do things that bring you joy, even if only for a few minutes each day. As tempting as it may be to spend your free time scrolling through TikTok, doing something you enjoy such as reading your collection of cheesy romance novels, cooking your favorite meals, or indulging in your favorite medium of art can help take your mind off of the stressful parts of your life and allow you to escape for a little while. Depending on what your hobbies are, they can also allow you to connect with other people, giving you a sense of community and belonging.

3. Nurture your relationships

Just as you need to make time for the hobbies you love, you also need to make time for the people you love. Isolation is one of the most common symptoms, but also one of the most common causes, of poor mental health. When we are sad and anxious, it is only natural that we want to spend our time alone away from other people. But although alone time can be good sometimes, too much of it will only make your negative thoughts spiral even more. Although for a lot of people socializing can be draining (as an introvert, I understand completely), confiding in your loved ones about what you are facing in life can not only be a great way to let out your feelings, but they can also give you advice from a neutral perspective — something you may not have when you are in a bad state of mind.

4. Practice mindful habits

In times of stress, it is important to learn how to quiet your mind. Our anxiety can often exaggerate our problems or even create ones that are not really there, so when you are feeling anxious or depressed, there are a few techniques you can try to ground yourself and stop your mind from racing. In the moments you are feeling this way, one of my favorite techniques is called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique: while taking deep breaths, look around the room and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This helps you get out of your head and by the time you are done naming all 15 things, your head is typically much clearer. Practices you can do every day that can also help include journalling, which is the practice of writing down your daily thoughts and feelings to help you make more sense of them, or meditation, where even just five minutes a day has been shown to have great benefits for your physical and mental health.

5. Be gracious to yourself

You are your own harshest critic. Think of all of the times that your friends have been struggling and confided in you. Did you ever judge them, or think they are less than for not being perfect? Probably not — so why would you judge yourself for going through the same thing? We are all human, and not a single one of us in this world is perfect. It is easy to be hard on yourself and feel that you could have done better, but it is important to remember that you are a human being who makes mistakes, and of course, later on, you think of all the ways you could have been better; hindsight is always 20/20 after all. When I find that I am being particularly hard on myself, I try to imagine if one of my loved ones were in the same situation. If I would be kinder to them than I am to myself, I remind myself that I am worthy of love and support, because it is a privilege to help and be helped by the ones you love, not a burden.

Final thoughts

Practicing these daily habits can not only improve your day-to-day state of mind but can also help you cope when you experience stressful events in life. But it is important to remember that no matter how strong and capable we may be, there are just some things that we cannot handle alone. If you feel that your mental well-being is lowering your quality of life, do not be afraid to speak to someone about how you feel, whether it be a loved one or a professional.

If you are struggling and are in an emergency situation, call the Mental Health Emergency Hotline by dialing 988.

Kaitlin is a junior studying Communication at the University of Connecticut. She enjoys writing about the things that interest her, which is anything from lifestyle and wellness to social issues. When she is not writing for HerCampus, she works as a Public Relations Intern at KikiNetwork, a boutique PR agency based out of Hanover, NH. In her free time, you can find her attempting to cook a new meal, watching early 2000's romcoms, or going to her favorite thrift stores.