Our Key Tips for Self-Care in Difficult Times

Mental Health

Reece Carter

The past year-and-a-half has plunged most of us into confusion and upheaval. For many people, it has impacted our mental wellbeing, too; and so now more than ever it’s important that we prioritise taking care of our bodies and our minds. Here are some evidence-based approaches to diet and lifestyle that can help keep you mentally well through difficult times.  

What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘self-care’? Is it skincare and massages? Herbal tea and meditation, maybe? Or perhaps just a curling up in the couch in your pyjamas? 

The truth is that there’s no one single approach to self-care. It can be anything at all really, as long as that something looks after your body and mind. And while there are plenty of things which we can’t change right now, carving out time for practices that are good for our mental wellbeing is something that is within our control — especially when it comes to how we eat, how we move out bodies, and how we let ourselves rest and recover. 

First up: proper nutrition. It’s no secret that diet is an important consideration when it comes to physical health and fitness, but did you know that diet might play a role in mental health, too? In particular, Australian research has shown us that adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet over twelve weeks was effective in improving mental health and wellbeing.  

But before you race out for all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta, when we say ‘a Mediterranean diet’, what we actually mean is a diverse and healthy way of eating that is largely plant-focussed, and which centres around plenty of colourful vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, plus legumes like beans and lentils, alongside quality proteins from seafood, eggs, and poultry, with only occasional red meat.  The Mediterranean diet also contains plenty of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts and seeds. 

Apart from eating well, moving our bodies regularly has also been shown to be an effective approach to maintaining good mental health. The great news is that with COVID-related restrictions now mostly eased, exercise has become easier to achieve, too! For adults, half an hour of moderate activity each day, as well as two strength training workouts each week, is a good level of activity to aim for. At the end of the day, all exercise is good for us, so choose the type you like the most and work it into your daily routine.

And lastly, there are the activities that most of us think of when we think of self-care: those seemingly indulgent practices that are actually powerful tools in keeping us well. In particular, slowing down in the evenings is important. Swap screen time for a book, switch out your glass of wine for a cup of herbal tea, and make time for those calming ‘you time’ activities that are easy to ignore when life gets a little confusing and stressful. Your sleep — and, in turn, your mental wellbeing — will thank you for it. 

 
Category:Mental Health

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