5 Ways to Proactively Care for Your Mental Health with Dr. Sheva Assar
In honor of World Mental Health Day, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Sheva Assar, a clinical psychologist, about simple and accessible ways to look out for our mental health.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Mental health is something that we all have (similar to physical health) and refers to our psychological wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and behave. Thus, it is essential to consistently and intentionally attend to our emotional wellbeing as it can impact nearly all areas of our lives. By prioritizing our mental health, not only can we more effectively cope with our current stressors, but also ensure our well-being in the long-term.
Included below are my 5 tips for being able to proactively take care of your mental health everyday.
Engage in daily emotional check-ins. Dedicate a few minutes each day to pause and check in with yourself. Consider reflective questions, such as: “How am I feeling right now? Where do I feel this emotion in my body? What do I need today to feel more supported?” Spending these few minutes to do an internal check-in can help in giving you a brief break during your day, increasing your awareness about your internal experiences, and clarifying what kind of support/coping you would benefit from.
Practice Gratitude. Identify 2-3 people, activities, and/or opportunities that you are fortunate to have within your life each day! Practicing gratitude has had a powerful impact on my life, especially during the pandemic. In general, our mind has a tendency of focusing on the negative, but especially now given the many stressors and negative current events that we’re regularly exposed to, it’s easy to lose sight of the positive and fulfilling aspects of our individual lives and society. By practicing gratitude, it can help in more objectively and accurately viewing our current circumstances, as well as promote a greater sense of positive mood, connection, and hopefulness!
Prioritize your sleep! Our sleep can impact numerous areas of our overall well being, including our energy, mood, thinking, and ability to cope with stressors! Take a moment to check in with yourself: Do you feel that you are getting enough sleep each night? Do you regularly wake up feeling rested? Consider engaging in a nightly routine 30 minutes to 1 hour before you want to go to bed, in order to help calm your body and mind and prepare you for sleep. During this time, focus on engaging in activities that are relaxing to you and put away all distractions (i.e., including any screens/phones/computers). By feeling more rested, this can contribute to having more energy and promoting our mood throughout the day, being more clear and focused in our thinking, and engaging in behaviors that ultimately better serve us. Remember that like any routine, consistency is key!
Self-Care: Dedicate time each day to engage in various activities that are intended to rejuvenate you on an emotional and physical level. Identify activities, such as engaging in some type of movement, being in nature, breathing exercises, that are beneficial to you both in this moment, as well as meaningful to you in the long-term. Self-care can be incredibly impactful in promoting our overall wellbeing, as well as supporting us when we’re experiencing emotional distress or stressors.
Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself like you would a friend, especially in times of stress! Give yourself the same love and support that you would give to anyone else that you care about. In times when you’ve made a mistake or something doesn’t go as planned, ask yourself, “How would I treat someone I care about if they were in this same situation? What would my tone be like when talking with them? How would I encourage them to take care of themselves?” Then consider what it would look like to provide that same love and support to yourself...you deserve it!
Prioritizing your mental health calls for regularly checking in with yourself, identifying how you’re feeling and what you’re needing, and taking regular steps to fulfill your emotional and physical needs! It’s also modifying your behaviors and activities as needed to ensure that you are truly taking care of you based on what serves you today!
Learn more about Dr. Sheva on her Instagram @drsheva and at www.drshevaassar.com.
P.S. If you didn't have the chance to see Baloo's Instagram Live with Dr. Sheva on World Mental Health Day 2021, head to @balooliving to watch the full conversation.