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The Importance of Self-Care for Your Mental Health

Mental health affects nearly every aspect of our lives, which makes it essential to be proactive about taking care of it. More than 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point. Because it’s so common, everyone should be taking steps to live a mentally healthy lifestyle. Self-care is one way to do that.

Self-care is the process of taking care of your body’s needs, both mental and physical. It includes paying attention to how you’re feeling and participating in behaviors that promote a healthy life. People who have a good self-care routine decrease their risk of anxiety, depression, and addiction. So how does self-care impact your mental health? 

1. Physical Health Impacts Mental Health

Did you know your physical health has a huge impact on your mental health? Taking care of your body’s physical needs is one of the most important aspects of self-care. Self-care includes prioritizing sleep, nutrition, and regular exercise. When you remember to prioritize these things, even when life gets stressful or busy, your mental health will benefit. To improve your physical health, focus on the following things:

Prioritize Sleep

When the body has enough sleep, it can better regulate emotions and cope with stress throughout the day. When you don’t get enough sleep, especially REM sleep, your brain doesn’t get a chance to fully process emotions. This can lead to an increase in depression and suicidal behaviors. 

Many people have a tough time prioritizing sleep because life gets busy. To get better sleep, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This will help you fall asleep more quickly each night. Also, limit caffeine and alcohol, especially close to bedtime. Both of these things can decrease your quality of sleep. 

Eat Nutritiously

When you take care of your body’s nutritional needs, your mental health is also likely to improve. Research has shown that a nutritious diet decreases the risk for many mental disorders. Foods rich in antioxidants, like berries, leafy green vegetables, turmeric, and salmon prevent inflammation. Inflammation can contribute to depression and anxiety, so your mental health could improve with a simple diet change. 

Some vitamins can also increase the production of serotonin, a hormone that stabilizes your mood and creates feelings of well-being. Many green vegetables have the vitamins you need for supporting your body. Try to add as many nutrient-dense foods to your meals as possible. 

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is another form of self-care that has a significant impact on mental health. Regular exercise helps your body produce chemicals that give your brain’s reward center an extra positive jolt. Endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine can all be affected and increased by exercise. 

If you’re not already in the habit of regularly exercising, try to add just a little bit of movement into your routine every day. Start with a short walk or a quick yoga session. To most fully enjoy the mental health benefits of exercise, it’s important to find activities you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy running or weight-lifting, keep searching for a different activity that you’ll find enjoyable. 

2. Self Care Increases Awareness of Your Needs

People who are aware of their emotional and physical needs are more likely to have a mentally healthy lifestyle. Self-care helps you build that awareness. It teaches you to notice when you’re not feeling well and determine what can help you manage that feeling. Many people spend time meditating, journaling, or speaking with a therapist as part of their self-care routine. All of these activities help people feel more in touch with their emotions. Try out some of the following self-care techniques to improve self-awareness of your needs: 


Meditation is a strong tool for building an awareness of both mental and physical well-being.  Some people enjoy meditating while remaining still, lying down, or sitting on the floor. Others find meditation more useful through walking or yoga. Meditation doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. If you’ve tried one method of meditation and it didn’t work for you, try different methods until you find the one that works best.


Journaling has helped many people become more in touch with their feelings and their needs. If you’re struggling to get started, you can try using journal prompts to direct your writing. You can also simply write about what’s on your mind. Get in the habit of journaling regularly, and you’ll notice an improvement in your ability to manage stress and deal with difficult feelings. 

3. Developing Your Passions

A fun part of self-care is finding time for the things that bring you joy. Hobbies can decrease stress and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. People who spend time developing hobbies are also more likely to report a general sense of well-being. 

Developing a passion and devoting time to it also builds more resiliency and gives people a strong sense of self. Schedule time into your routine every week if you feel like you don’t have time for your hobbies and passions. Don’t let your life get too busy for the things you truly love. 

If you haven’t yet found the hobbies or passions that fulfill you, take some time to explore. Think about the types of activities that fit your personality. Try out activities in any of the following categories: 

Social Groups

Are you a social person? Some people feel most fulfilled when their hobbies involve meeting new people and building friendships. Try out a team sport. Many cities have adult leagues where you can have some friendly competition with other members of your community. You could also try taking group lessons to learn a new skill you’re interested in. 

You’ll meet other people with a similar interest in learning. There are also social clubs and meet-up groups that focus on nearly every hobby. If you can’t find a group that sounds fun, start one!

Volunteer Work

If you prefer to spend your free time making a difference and working on causes you care about, look into volunteer work. Dozens of charity organizations thrive because of the volunteers who support them. Making a difference in the world helps many people feel a sense of fulfillment. 


If you feel drawn to learning, enroll in a class online or at a community center. Many people feel passionate about developing new talents, so learning new things can be a form of self-care that positively impacts your mental health. 


Self-care is a powerful tool in proactively taking care of your mental health. If you feel like your mental health is currently suffering, despite your self-care efforts, it may be time to reach out to a mental health provider for support. Mental health services, like Jackson House, help people build healthy habits and self-care practices to take control of their mental health journey. Never hesitate to contact one of their facilities, as it may be the best decision of your life.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

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We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.

If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.