Imagine feeling like it’s a warm spring day every day, with birds chirping, tulips blooming, and not a care in the world. Wouldn’t that be nice? Well, we can’t escape life’s challenges every single moment, but we can learn how to become mentally tough so those challenges don’t wipe us out emotionally.
Learning how to practice mental and emotional self-care is an incredibly valuable lesson to help you cope with life’s daily challenges, maintain a positive attitude, and allow stress to bounce off you.
Mental and emotional self-care is also a great tool for self-love as you learn to cherish yourself, recognize how brilliant your mind is, and how strong you actually are.
Applying these steps for healthy mental and emotional self-care in my life has made a world of difference for how I react to stress, respond to adversity, and find positivity each day.
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1. Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes
A must-do tip for mental and emotional self-care is to allow yourself to make mistakes and not beat yourself up about it. How many times do we get down on ourselves when we feel like we screwed something up? As a chronic over-thinker myself, I know how easy it is to get trapped in a vicious cycle of thinking about something dumb I did, or something I should have done differently.
What good does it do me? None. And it does a whole lot of bad.
Choose to see this self-care step a new way. Allow yourself to be totally human and make a mistake or two. Or three. So what if you ate a donut at midnight?? (My favorite guilty pleasure.) Did you have a seriously stressful day and needed to indulge yourself for just a minute?
Then by all means, eat the dang donut. And go to bed without guilt. It’s just one donut.
Our average choices are not worth beating ourselves up about. Be kind to yourself. You are amazing. And human. You’re capable of making new choices and learning from mistakes. Choose to boost your emotional health by letting go of negative beliefs about our choices.
2. Begin Your Day Mindfully
My phone used to be my alarm clock. I would immediately start checking email and social media after I turned off the alarm. I’d end up rushing to get ready on time and feeling yucky about the start of my day.
I could use the excuse that I followed some positive affirmation Instagram accounts, but it still felt like a crappy way to start my day. So I stopped doing it.
- I spend a few quiet moments reciting, in my head or out loud, several positive affirmations about myself.
- Then I state several intentions for what I plan to accomplish or how I want to feel that day.
- Finally, I breathe deeply to really cement the beliefs I just stated.
Why is this such a powerful tip for emotional self-care? Because you’ve just changed the direction of your thoughts and feelings for your entire day. Starting with a little self-love and positive affirmations, then verbalizing your intentions for the day, creates a safe and positive space for your mind and heart to start a new day.
You’ll find yourself almost bouncing out of bed after you try this a few times!
3. Practice Deep Breathing
Did you know that deep breathing is so good for you? Not the panicky kind or sprinting-after-my-dog kind. The kind where you stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and decide to breathe peace and calm into your soul. It’s a deep, belly breath. And it’s incredibly grounding when you’re practicing self-care.
This kind of deep breathing is a great emotional health booster when you need to find a moment of calm, and the benefits of deep breathing are amazing.
- It lets your mind focus on something physically necessary, rather than whatever was stressing you out.
- The increase of oxygen to your brain allows it to relax and reduce the stress signals it was sending.
- Deep breathing brings down your heart rate, which reduces anxiety.
- It promotes better organ function since our brains, heart, lungs, and digestion depend on good oxygen levels.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, give your mental and emotional health a break by slowly breathing deeply into your belly a few times. As you breathe out, mentally push out any negative thoughts or feelings you have.
4. Set Boundaries
Boundaries can be about people, events, space, and time. Think of the areas in your life that are out of balance, and you’ll know exactly where you need to put a boundary. They are so important for our emotional health because we need to prove that we respect ourselves and our time. Allow your core self to trust that you can put your time/space/energy towards your own emotional and mental self-care health.
Maybe there are people you need to spend less time with, such as those who are negative, have bad habits (socially or physically), or are overbearing and demanding of your time.
Look at how many commitments you’ve made to go somewhere and decide which ones you actually need or want to attend. Not the ones you’re being convinced to attend! Free up your calendar as needed.
Are you spending all your time on other people’s needs or projects at work? Perhaps you’ve got too many personal projects and hobbies. Where can you take back your precious time to spend on yourself?
5. Allow and Honor Your Feelings
Sometimes when we’re really upset or hurt, we can push away the feelings in an attempt to stop the pain. This never works. It simply buries that pain until it overflows without control. Practice better emotional self-care by choosing to allow yourself to feel all the feels. Cry, get mad, punch a pillow, eat three pints of ice cream, buy that new shirt. (Just don’t max out your credit card!)
We can’t run from our feelings. They belong to us. They shape us. We make decisions based on them. So when you get dumped by a
great stupid guy or passed over for a promotion at work, open yourself to all the emotions that come.
As you feel them, consciously honor them, even if that means you verbally state: “I honor how upset this event made me and how deeply betrayed I feel.”
Honoring your feelings tells your mind that you understand and accept the emotions arising from your core being. Most importantly, those emotions won’t get trapped and buried to resurface later, or worse, prevent you from opening your heart to new opportunities.
6. Choose to Be Grateful
Gratitude is an essential aspect of mental and emotional self-care because it promotes a positive mindset. When our minds are tuned to gratitude and positivity, the Law of Attraction means more positivity and opportunity will come into our lives.
So often, when we’re not taking care of ourselves, it’s because we’re drowning in a sea of negativity or frustration about things we don’t have in our lives. Have you stopped to count all the things you do have?
If this feels really hard for you, I still challenge you to just find one thing each day to be grateful for. The more you try this, the easier it will become to see how many blessings we all have in our lives. Even if it’s just the sound of rain on our windows at night. Or getting to pet a dog. Eventually, you may be able to find gratitude for deeper things that have defined you at your core.
If you still need help, check out this fun gratitude journal that will get your ideas flowing.
Improve your mental outlook on life with this easy step to practice self-care. It only takes a few moments to write down something you’re grateful for.
7. Make Time to Be Alone
Extroverts be like “What?!” Introverts be like “Heck yeah!”
No matter which one you are, spending time to be alone with yourself is an amazing way to promote better mental and emotional self-care. This alone time isn’t to spend time wallowing in loneliness or stressing about all the things you haven’t done. It’s meant to give you a chance to reconnect with the thoughts, feelings, or dreams you have.
True self-care means you’re checking in on where you’re at emotionally, mentally and physically. If you never take time to do that, how can you know?
Spend time alone at least weekly to look back over that week.
- Decide if the choices you made are choices you’d make again.
- Evaluate if you did anything just to treat yourself.
- Check if you achieved the goals (or made progress) that you set for yourself.
- Ask if you spent time on something you enjoy doing.
- Review if you worked on that business you want to start.
- Think about if you did anything to improve your health.
If the answer is “no” to any of these, this alone time is the perfect chance to make a course correction and decide how to implement any of these tips that apply to you.
Once you’ve done that, extend your alone time to include reading another chapter in a book or taking time to do a new facial mask like this Moroccan red clay mask! Treat yourself, girl!
8. Accept Compliments to Boost Emotional Self-Care
“Hey you look great in that dress!”
“Thanks, but it’s kind of old, and I think it hangs funny on me since I don’t have big boobs.”
Sound familiar? Why are we women sometimes so bad at taking a compliment?? Stop it, ladies! Accept the compliment because you deserve it!
If you truly want to improve your mental and emotional self-care, then you’ll trust me when I say that you have to learn to accept a compliment and leave it at that. No excuses, no being embarrassed, no changing the subject.
When you reject a compliment or downplay it with a polite disagreement (see above), you’re cutting your confidence off at the knees. It’s self-sabotage, and you’re selling yourself short. If you find yourself not believing the compliments that come your way, the best way to change that is to accept the compliment.
Break the cycle of your inner critic. Just say, “Thanks so much!” That’s it.
It also promotes honesty and trust between you and the giver. (Friend or lover!) Even better, it begins to open your heart to a happier and more confident you. And that, my friends, is real emotional self-care at it’s best.
9. Do Something That You Truly Enjoy
I seriously enjoy sitting in the sun with a book on an 85° day. I’m pretty sure I must be part lizard or something. So what do I do when it’s 30° and threatening snow? I sit by a fire with a book.
This self-care tip for building better mental and emotional self-care health is one of the funnest ones. You get to decide what brings you happiness. Just you. Not your roommate, or boyfriend, or best friend, or husband. You.
Life can sometimes bring us down with how many responsibilities we have, the challenges we face, and even how boring it can be. Doing something for yourself that makes you happy can mean the world to your emotional self-care routine. Think of big and little things you can do daily and weekly.
Daily: make your favorite smoothie.
Weekly: dance in your underwear in the kitchen to the best female 80s singers. (“Eye of the Tiger” anyone?)
Make time to enjoy this precious life you have. Don’t look back in another ten years and wish you had spent more time creating joy and happiness in your life. You’ve got everything you need to create it right now!
10. Consume Positive Influences
Sometimes we struggle to stay positive and focused on our quest for a better, healthier and more successful life. A great way to increase your mental and emotional self-care is to boost the amount of positive influences in your life. (This may mean cutting out some negative influences too!)
If you have an idea of what you’re trying to achieve, whether it’s a healthier physical life or chasing a business idea, find positive, successful people to listen to. Maybe you listen to some personal development podcasts, or follow fitness professionals on Youtube, or maybe read more books by successful business people.
I know, I know, you’ve been told before to follow the lead of successful people. But have you actually done it? Increasing the positive influences in your life can naturally boost your mood and mental health as you continue your journey of mental and emotional self-care. Just start with one thing you want to add to your daily routine and watch it’s affect on your life!
11. Put Yourself First
If you don’t take care of you and your needs first, how can you possibly perform at your best with anything else? You’ll simply be too worn out, too stressed, or to irritated to be the kind, happy, and confident woman I know you are.
Once you’ve started to implement boundaries (tip #1), and decided what activities truly make you happy (tip #9), now you’re ready to say, “Me first.” Trust me, your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for it. In fact, they’re probably begging for it.
I didn’t learn how to do this until my thirties, and I desperately wish I had learned earlier.
Your body becomes depleted of resources if you never take time to care for yourself first and even find yourself unable to connect to people you care about. It leads to feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration, and even anger, when your mental state becomes too exhausted to cope. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
Place value on your mental and emotional self-care by putting your health first.
12. Use Deep Sleep or Relaxing Music for Better Rest
If you find yourself laying awake at night, or waking up frequently at night, there’s a good chance you’re stressed. (Or you have a crappy mattress.) This step should help you enjoy a better night’s sleep as you practice better mental self-care.
Honor your racing thoughts and feelings of stress. Then make clear that this is the time for sleep. Give your mind permission to resolve the issues in your racing thoughts tomorrow. Then turn on some deep sleep or relaxation music.
Relaxation music has so many benefits for our physical and mental health, but especially for promoting deep sleep. Just as music can excite you, it can relax you and soothe your mind and body, relaxing muscles and tension. The quiet repetition of soothing sounds gives your mind something quiet to focus on, and removes the need to obsess over your to-do list.
Deep sleep music, or binaural beats, is an amazing way to promote sleep because the frequencies of the sleep music are specifically tuned to create synchronicity in your brain waves. They will mimic the relaxation you should feel during a meditation session.
Binaural beats or meditation music is my favorite music to listen to on nights where I’m extra worn out and just want to get some deep REM sleep. It’s a great way to boost your mental self-care by ensuring you get some restful sleep.
Choosing to make your mental and emotional self-care routines a daily or weekly habit can bring drastically positive changes to your life. I’ve witnessed it in myself and others. Few things are more important than daily habits of emotional self-care. Believe that you’re worth it. And prove to yourself that you believe it by doing it. You’ve got this!
Make sure to send this post to a friend or family member who could totally benefit from these simple tips for mental and emotional self-care! Post your comments or questions below!