This article was written by Brad Krause

You may already be committed to a diet and fitness routine for your physical health. But have you thought about adding some self-care to enhance your mental health? Basic self-care, like learning to relax and staying organized, can help you feel less stressed, anxious, and depressed. Here are some self-care steps you can start to take better care of your mental health.

Kick Clutter Out of Your Life

Did you know that too much stuff in your home and mind can be bad for your mental health? Research has shown that having too much clutter in our home and work environments tends to overstimulate our minds, resulting in stress, anxiety, and decreased focus. To get clutter out of your home, you may want to take a few hours to go through and downsize what you have. If you’re short on time, you can hire a professional home organizer for the job, but this can cost $40-$50 an hour. If you’re left with items you want to keep, but don’t have space, you can find an inexpensive self-storage unit where you can store your belongings until you decide to keep or discard them for good. The average cost for a self-storage unit in the DC area in the last six months is $116.61. To get rid of mental clutter, try calming yoga, journaling, or even meditation.

Sit Back and Relax Every Now and Then

With all the hustle needed to succeed at work, school, and home, it can be tricky to find time to relax. Throw a health and fitness routine into the mix, and relaxing can seem like less of a priority. But taking time to relax is essential for maintaining positive mental health. You can start by penciling your relaxation sessions into your schedule. Make it a daily habit, just like your cardio or healthy eating. During your downtime, try to disconnect from the outside world. Spend these minutes doing something that brings you joy. Maybe soak in a hot bath, schedule a massage, or read a funny book. As an added bonus, laughing can enhance your mental health and help you feel happier, so definitely work some comedy into your calming routines.

Find Healthy Ways to Manage Your Stress

The effects of stress can be damaging to your mental health. Stress management is one of the top forms of self-care you can practice, but you have to make sure you are coping in positive ways. Turning to alcohol or other substances will only make stress and mental health issues worse. Exercise is a great stress reliever, so make sure you are sticking to your regular fitness routine even when you feel tense. A few minutes of an intense workout can blast that tension away and leave your brain filled with endorphins that will keep you feeling happy. For those times when you find yourself stressed and need those feelings relieved fast, try these 10-minute stress reducers. Chew some gum, step outside, or simply focus on your breathing to instantly melt your stress away.

Make Sleep a Top Priority

The single most important self-care step you can take is such a basic one: improving your sleep. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night is essential for preserving proper brain function and emotional balance. So if sleep is not a priority in your life, you need to make some changes. You can wake up feeling energized by following some sleep-boosting tips. Just like relaxation and fitness, you have to set aside enough time to sleep. This includes an hour or so to relax before hitting the bedroom, which should be kept dark, cool, and quiet. You should also avoid caffeine, spicy foods, and heavy meals in the late afternoon and evening hours. Finally, if you find yourself still having sleep issues, take a look at whether you may need a new mattress.

When it comes to working on your mental health, self-care can be just as important as exercise for your body. So make self-care a prerogative in your life. Get yourself organized, learn to relax, and never feel guilty for taking time to take proper care of yourself.

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