8 Ways to Practice Emotional Self-Care


As a therapist, I firmly believe that now is always a great time to check in on your emotional health. Take a moment to notice any areas of emotional self-care you have neglected. Give yourself a self-care boost to improve your mood, your health and your life. You deserve it!

1. Get a good night’s sleep.

Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep for peak performance. Give yourself a relaxing sleep routine, shut off any screens 30 minutes before bedtime and stay on a regular sleep schedule to get the most restful sleep (try setting a bedtime alarm). Check out the National Sleep Foundation website for more tips on a healthy sleep routine.

2. Nourish and move your body.

Our mental health is inseparable from our physical health, so treat your body well to feel your best. Avoid processed foods, eat a colorful diet to capture a diversity of nutrients and drink plenty of water. Exercise, especially cardio, has an amazing impact on our mood. They don’t call it a “runner’s high” for nothing. Give yourself permission to start slow if you are just getting back into exercise, but make sure to move your body every day. Treat your body the way you would like to feel.

3. Connect with others.

We as people are pack animals and feel our best when we are in trusting and healthy relationships. Consider volunteering your time, calling an old friend or meeting up with someone IRL (in real life) to feel connected to others.  Look for friendships that allow you to talk honestly and authentically about how you are feeling.

4. Breathe deeply.

Slow, deep breaths will calm the nervous system in a moment of stress. If it is hard to catch your breath, focus your attention on calmly exhaling your breath all the way and try again. Let all of your worries float away for at least a minute and redirect your attention back to your breath, over and over again.

5. Do something fun.

(Even if you don’t feel like it!) With stress and feeling overwhelmed it can be easy to forget to save time for fun, but this is an essential part of emotional wellness. Give yourself the chance to stimulate new positive feelings by making time to do at least one fun activity every day. Be creative, try new things and experiment.

6. Give yourself credit.

We tend to focus on the negative when we are stressed, which leads to more and more anxiety and depression. Take a moment to pause and reflect on at least three things you have done well today. Give yourself credit for even the little things. To start, you’re reading about self-care right now, so that’s great!

7. Practice balance and moderation.

Are you obsessing about work? Stuck on the couch? Eating too much or too little? Drinking a little too much? Notice if you’re relying too heavily or not enough on any one habit to manage stress. Look for diverse coping strategies so you don’t get stuck in a rut. Ask others how they manage their stress and try something new.

8. Find hope for the future.

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture of your life. What motivates you to keep going on a difficult day? What do you hope to accomplish in your life? Who is important to you? What is pushing you forward? When this moment feels tough, look ahead to hopes for the future.

To learn more about Anna Lindberg Cedar, MPA, LCSW, you can visit her website here.

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Thinkstock photo via zeremski.


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