It’s been almost four years since Covid-19 turned the world on its head. As the pandemic rages on, the prevalence of mental health challenges continues to increase. So it is no shock that many Americans are dealing with mental health issues. If you’re struggling to feel happy and productive, a self-care routine can increase your energy, lower stress, and improve your mental well-being .

Create the Ultimate Self-Care Routine in 2024

Self-care is a trendy term you’ve probably heard before, and it simply means spending time physically, mentally, or spiritually taking care of yourself. Although self-care is easy to grasp, it can be harder to implement.

When you’re used to putting work or a loved one before your own needs, taking time for your well-being can seem foreign. The following five steps will help you create the ultimate self-care routine to help you feel your best in 2024.

1. Try Time Blocking

From a growing inbox to unplanned Zoom meetings, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve lost control of your schedule. Although implementing time management can feel like another chore, it’s a game-changer for your mental health.

Time management is like a self care calendar. It has the potential to impact life satisfaction more than job satisfaction. Consequently, this could help reduce anxiety and distress.

An easy way to start managing your time is with time blocking. This time management method breaks your day into chunks, focused on one task per chunk.

For example, you could block away chunks of time for meetings, lunch, exercise, or schedule another self-care activity when time blocking. Intentionally allocating your attention to one task at a time makes it easier to focus and can help reduce anxiety and burnout.

2. Get Some Movement

When you’re feeling stressed or down, getting off the couch can seem like a challenge. However, exercise might be exactly what you need to improve your mood and self care routine. So, how much exercise do you need to reap the mental health benefits?

Although science is still trying to discover the optimal amount of exercise for brain health, some research says 45 minutes three to five days a week is ideal. If you’ve never worked out before, it’s a good idea to work up to 45 minutes slowly. Start by exercising 10 minutes a few days a week and build up over time.

3. Skip the Booze and Opt for Tea

It’s easy to reach for a glass of wine at the end of a long day, but you may be doing your mental health more harm than good. As a depressant, alcohol is negatively linked to emotional problems like depression and anxiety. In addition, it disrupts your mood by reducing the “feel good” chemicals in your brain and impairing your nervous system. So instead, consider swapping your wine for a healthy habit like adding a cup of tea to your self-care routine.

Teas rich in the amino acid, L-theanine, promote a feeling of calm, reduce stress, and improve concentration. Although more research is needed on tea’s wellness benefits, tea drinkers often experience many mental health benefits and occasionally physical healing. So consider skipping the booze and snuggle up with a cup of tea or cocoa. I recommend fruit and veggie juices as a way to sip your way to better mental health.

4. Spend Time in Nature

From playing with your kids at the park to biking your favorite trail , spending time in nature is a self care activity that has many mood-boosting benefits. Spending time in nature can increase happiness and decrease mental distress. Even if you live in a city, simply being around urban trees can improve your mood.

Busy schedules can make it hard to get outside. The good news is you can still experience some of nature’s mental health benefits by bringing natural elements into your home. Have you ever noticed how nature’s sounds and smells can simply help change your mood? So, consider adding a small thing like a rippling spring playlist to your Spotify.

5. Talk With a Professional

If you’re dealing with mental health issues, scheduling therapy is one of the most impactful additions you can make to your self-care routine. Additionally, it has been proven time and time again that therapy helps treat a variety of mental and behavioral problems. Furthermore, the positive effects of the patient’s experiences lasted well beyond therapy sessions.

Don’t give up hope if you don’t think you can afford therapy. There are a few options to help reduce the cost. First, check with your health insurance provider and see if mental health services are covered. If not, consider paying into a Flexible Spending Account with pre-tax income to help cover the cost.

If neither of these options works, consider other resources. Whether its a self-help book or working with an online therapist, they’re often more affordable than in-person counseling but can still boost your mental wellbeing.

The past few years have challenged everyone’s mental health. So use this year as your best fresh start ever to incorporate a few self-care activities into your day to boost your mood and overall well-being.

Updated 8/30/2023

Image Credit: Jan Kopřiva from Pexels; Thank you