Self-care can be used for a lot of things: Improving your physical health, unwinding after a long day, giving your mental state a boost, or all of the above. While self-care needs and strategies vary from person to person, there’s one thing from which we could all benefit: greater peace of mind. The following six practices are especially geared toward achieving just that.
If you do nothing else on this list, do this. Breathing deeply can trigger the relaxation response in the body and promote focus and calm. You can combine a deep breathing practice with yoga or meditation for additional benefits, but simply making a habit of breathing throughout the day—e.g., at stop lights, at your desk, or any time the kids start fighting—will provide you with a greater sense of calm no matter what the day has in store.
Cultivate healthy relationships.
As human beings, we naturally crave a sense of belonging. Knowing you’re part of a strong support system can give you peace of mind that people will be there to uplift you as you undergo stressors and major life events. Using these intimate relationships as a space to practice establishing boundaries and communicating in constructive ways will give you the confidence to continue forming healthy relationships in all areas of your life.
In addition to inviting positive people into your life, make a point of weeding out the “energy vampires.” If you regularly find that hanging out with a certain person or interacting with them on social media only leads to you feeling more negative, pessimistic, or drained, start weaning those people out of your life. Doing this can be an act of self-care in its own right.
Studies consistently find that most people feel stressed out and struggle to focus in messy spaces. So a quick way to give yourself greater peace of mind is to de-clutter your living space, bedroom, office, or anywhere else where messiness is limiting your ability to relax. If any of these spaces are home to an issue that’s been bugging you for a while—e.g. a burnt-out light bulb or a squeaky door—taking care of that minor annoyance can result in further gains toward a greater sense of calm.
Secure your home.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that utilizing a home security system can do wonders for people’s peace of mind. Not only does this allow anyone to feel safer in their own home—which is essential for anyone looking to relax—but it also helps parents rest easy knowing their kids are a little safer. Thanks to new technologies and DIY systems, this is a simple and cost-effective way to breathe a little easier.
Get enough sleep.
It’s virtually impossible to feel calm when you’re chronically sleep deprived. Not getting enough sleep provokes serious stress, impairs mood, and contributes to mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. On the other hand, getting high-quality sleep on a regular basis does wonders for your peace of mind and your resilience in the face of everyday stressors.
Change your mindset.
Some of us have a nasty inner monologue running through our heads at all times. Identifying and challenging these negative thoughts with a more positive outlook can significantly improve your peace of mind. Whenever you catch yourself harshly judging yourself or others, take a moment to consider more compassionate interpretations of the situation at hand. Look for and affirm the good in yourself and others. Make forgiveness and gratitude your go-to attitudes. This is by no means an easy fix, but if you stick with it, you’ll find more ease in virtually every area of your life.
These practices are consistently identified as some of the most effective steps you can take to improve your mental health. The emphasis here is on the word “practice”—in order for these strategies to be truly helpful, you’ll need to turn them into daily habits. In exchange for these efforts, you’ll enjoy greater peace of mind for years to come.