May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which makes it a great time to check on your emotional and mental well-being. It’s also a great time to practice self-care, which is a term coined for focusing on oneself and taking action to encourage physical and psychological growth.
The concept of self-care differs person to person because it depends on what makes each individual feel good. For some people, self-care is a day of reading and binge-watching Netflix, for others it’s drinking eight glasses of water and getting enough sleep. However you view self-care, it’s important to prioritize it — and yourself.
There are five steps you can take this month to practice some self-care and strengthen your mental health.
First, value yourself. Our internal voice can be our biggest champion and worst critic. Talk to yourself with the kindness you show others and avoid self-criticism.
Second, exercise daily. Even 30 minutes of walking will release stress-killing endorphins and improve your overall mood. If daily exercise is not possible in your routine, aim for three to five times each week.
Third, set realistic goals. Consider what you’d like to achieve personally and professionally, and write down small steps you can take to get there.
Fourth, allow yourself to say no and set boundaries. It’s OK to walk away from anything that depletes you physically or emotionally, whether it’s a relationship, work or other activities.
And, finally, seek help if you need it. If you’re struggling with your mental health, visit a counselor. By seeking appropriate care when needed, you can live your strongest and healthiest life — mentally and physically.