How to Create an Effective Self-Care Routine for Your Mental Health

In today’s fast-paced and stressful world, taking care of your mental health is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an increase in mental health challenges, with rates of depression alone tripling during this time (source). It’s crucial to prioritize self-care to ensure your own well-being and be better equipped to offer support to those around you. In this article, we will explore the importance of self-care, define self-care goals, and provide practical tips on how to create an effective self-care routine for your mental health.

The Importance of Self-Care

Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce anxiety and depression, decrease stress levels, increase happiness, and more (source). It is not a luxury but a necessity for maintaining optimal mental health. Self-care practices can help you adapt to changes, build strong relationships, and recover from setbacks. Additionally, self-care has various physical health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer (source).

Defining Self-Care Goals

To create an effective self-care routine, it’s important to set clear goals. These goals should encompass different aspects of your life and promote overall wellness. Here are some self-care goals to consider:

  1. Take care of your physical and psychological health: Prioritize activities that promote physical well-being, such as regular exercise and a balanced diet, while also addressing your psychological needs through practices like meditation or therapy.
  2. Manage and reduce stress: Identify stressors in your life and develop strategies to cope with them effectively. This can include practicing relaxation techniques, setting boundaries, or engaging in stress-reducing activities.
  3. Recognize your emotional and spiritual needs: Pay attention to your emotional well-being and engage in activities that nurture your spirit, such as journaling, practicing gratitude, or connecting with nature.
  4. Foster and sustain relationships: Dedicate time and effort to nurturing your relationships with family, friends, and loved ones. Engage in activities that promote connection and strengthen bonds.
  5. Achieve balance in different areas of your life: Strive for balance between work, personal life, hobbies, and other aspects of your life. Set boundaries and allocate time for activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

Incorporating the Eight Dimensions of Wellness

When planning your self-care activities, consider the eight dimensions of wellness defined by SAMHSA: emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social (source). Reflect on these dimensions in your life and identify areas that could benefit from improvement. By addressing each dimension, you can create a well-rounded self-care routine that supports your overall well-being.

Practical Self-Care Tips

Now that we understand the importance of self-care and have set clear goals, let’s explore some practical tips to help you create an effective self-care routine for your mental health.

1. Move More

Physical activity is not only beneficial for your physical health but also plays a crucial role in managing stress, anxiety, and depression (source). Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, such as walking, hiking, or running. Spending time outdoors while exercising can further enhance the benefits by reducing fatigue and improving mood (source). Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

2. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

The food we eat can significantly impact our mood and overall well-being (source). Focus on incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, leafy greens, and nuts into your diet. These foods provide essential nutrients and can help alleviate anxiety and support mental health. Limit processed foods and prioritize home-cooked meals to ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs.

3. Prioritize Sleep

Adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining good mental health. It regulates your mood, improves brain function, and increases energy levels (source). Aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. Establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, avoid caffeine and sugar before bed, and create a separate space for work and sleep to promote better sleep hygiene (source).

4. Plan Self-Care and Set Boundaries

Make self-care a priority by scheduling regular time for activities that bring you joy and help you recharge. It can be as simple as reading a book, taking a bubble bath, or practicing a hobby you love. Setting boundaries is also essential for your mental health, especially during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic (source). Clearly communicate your needs and expectations to others, and learn to say no to things that cause unnecessary stress.

“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn

5. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your self-care routine can help reduce stress, improve focus, and increase overall well-being. Set aside a few minutes each day to practice deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, or guided meditation. These practices can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, allowing you to respond to them in a more balanced and compassionate way.

6. Engage in Activities That Bring Joy

Make time for activities that bring you joy and happiness. Whether it’s pursuing a hobby, spending time with loved ones, or exploring new interests, engaging in activities that bring you pleasure can significantly improve your mental well-being. Dedicate time each week to do something you genuinely enjoy and ensure it becomes an integral part of your self-care routine.

7. Connect with Nature

Spending time in nature has been shown to have numerous mental health benefits. Take regular walks in the park, go hiking, or simply sit outside and breathe in the fresh air. Connecting with nature can reduce stress, improve mood, and increase feelings of well-being (source). Incorporate nature-based activities into your self-care routine to reap these benefits.

8. Seek Support When Needed

Remember that seeking support is a crucial aspect of self-care. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or experiencing persistent symptoms of depression, it’s essential to seek professional help. Reach out to a therapist, counselor, or mental health professional who can provide guidance and support tailored to your specific needs.

9. Practice Gratitude

Cultivating a sense of gratitude can have a profound impact on your mental well-being. Each day, take a moment to reflect on the things you’re grateful for. Write them down in a gratitude journal or simply express them internally. Focusing on the positive aspects of your life can shift your perspective and improve your overall outlook.

10. Disconnect from Technology

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by constant notifications and the pressure to always be connected. Take regular breaks from technology and disconnect from your devices. Engage in activities that don’t involve screens, such as reading a physical book, going for a walk, or practicing a craft. Disconnecting from technology allows you to recharge and be more present in the moment.


Prioritizing self-care is essential for maintaining good mental health. By creating an effective self-care routine, you can reduce stress, improve overall well-being, and be better equipped to support others. Remember to set clear self-care goals, incorporate the eight dimensions of wellness, and engage in practical self-care activities such as exercise, healthy eating, and prioritizing sleep. By practicing self-care regularly and seeking support when needed, you can cultivate a healthier mind and body, and be there for the people who need you.

Additional Information:

  • Self-care practices can vary from person to person, so it’s important to find what works best for you. Experiment with different activities and techniques to discover what brings you the most joy and relaxation.
  • Incorporating self-care into your daily routine can help make it a habit. Start small and gradually increase the time and effort you dedicate to self-care activities.
  • Remember that self-care is an ongoing process. It requires consistent effort and adjustment as your needs and circumstances change. Be flexible and open to adapting your self-care routine as needed.