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These Common Self-Care Habits Are Easy to Overlook But Essential for Good Mental Health

Most people think of self-care as doing something extra for yourself. But what if you reframe the idea of self-care and instead focus on the bare necessities? We all assume we’re caring for our basic needs, but if you really “check in” with yourself, you may find that something is missing. Only when you stop and pay attention to how you’re feeling, both physically and mentally, can you intervene and care for those basic needs you may be unintentionally ignoring.

Physical Activity

Maybe you’ve noticed the mental health boost you get from exercise. Along with this immediate mood boost, Psychology Today reports that research has also shown a link between exercise and management of chronic conditions like depression on a long-term basis.

The trick to making exercise a part of your regular self-care routine is to find the right fit for you. For example, while some people enjoy heading to the local gym to work out, others prefer to throw on a pair of shoes and go for a run by themselves.


Getting enough rest is a common problem for people who are dealing with mental health issues. Besides being a symptom of mental health problems, research has indicated that insomnia may also be a cause. If you struggle with sleep, this is a concern you should definitely bring up with your mental health provider. Fortunately, the good news is that a few self-care strategies can also make a major difference in getting the rest you need.

If anxious thoughts are causing your insomnia, you can often stop them with a few simple strategies, such as identifying your worries, visualizing positive things in your life, and using relaxation techniques to release tension. To prevent these anxious thoughts from keeping you up in the first place, create (and stick to) a bedtime routine that helps you unwind. This habit is a double dose of self-care because you’re (1) giving yourself permission to do things that are relaxing at night, like taking a warm bath or reading a book, while also (2) promoting good sleep hygiene that will give you the quality rest that your body and mind need.


Life involves stress — there’s no doubt about it. However, even though you can’t always control stressful situations, what you can do is manage how they impact you. Finding ways to relax when you’re stressed is tricky because the right solution for you may not work for someone else. For example, one idea is to enjoy a massage every once in a while. Not only can massage decrease anxiety, but it can also improve concentration, sleep quality, and circulation. In many cases, what you need is not just to relax on occasion but to change habits. For instance, instead of doing something mindless to unwind, why not try reading? One contributor to Self explains how changing this one little habit can snowball into other positive changes.