Self-care can be defined as activities done intentionally to positively impact mental, physical and emotional well-being. Self-care has a direct correlation to mental health. Different self-care techniques can help create healthy coping mechanisms toward unavoidable stressors in everyday life. In turn, practicing these techniques can soothe negative symptoms of mental illness or simply help you relax.

It’s important to note that not everyone practices self-care in the same way. To effectively practice self-care for your mental health, self-awareness is important. Practicing self-awareness can help you recognize when you’re experiencing certain emotions or worsened symptoms of a mental illness. Once you know your common triggers and symptoms, you can find the best self-care techniques for you.

When you’re ready to start practicing self-care, consider some of the following activities.

Sleep and Relax

Sleep and rest are important parts of self-care. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways such as practicing healthy sleep habits, developing a nightly routine and napping when your body needs it. Sleep deprivation can significantly impact your physical and mental health.

If you’re experiencing exhaustion or are more tired than usual, try an occasional nap to help restore yourself physically and mentally. Also, starting a nighttime routine can help prevent sleep deprivation and make it easier to recognize when you’re more tired than normal and may need to take a nap.

Prioritize Movement

Getting up and moving every day has numerous benefits for your mental well-being, including helping you cope with stress, which can significantly help treat depression and anxiety symptoms. Physical activity can be as simple as a daily walk or it can include hiking, running or weight lifting. It’s even better if the activity is done outside, as studies have shown that being outdoors is proven to help manage symptoms of depression.

Eat a Balanced Diet

The different foods and drinks you consume can impact your mood. It can be helpful to incorporate large amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains into meals. A great way to take time to decompress during the day is also by cooking a meal. Not only are you taking time for yourself, but you’re also practicing healthy habits by fueling your body with the nutrients it needs.

Set Goals

Setting goals can help you prioritize what’s important, as well as keep you motivated. Write these goals down and put them in places you will see them throughout your day.

Additionally, if you’re concerned about your mental health, talk to your AHW health coach, doctor, a licensed mental health professional or contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).