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Mental Hygiene: Maintaining Healthy Habits



Practicing daily hygiene is part of our daily routines. We brush our teeth, comb our hair, and take a shower, amongst other tasks, without giving them a second thought. But what about our mental hygiene? Shouldn’t we prioritize our mental well-being just as much as our physical health? It’s certainly just as important. Caring for our mental wellness ensures that we have enough energy and a healthy mentality to take on whatever comes our way. So what exactly is “mental hygiene” and how can we incorporate it into our everyday routines? Let’s get started…


Mental hygiene is the way in which we maintain our mental health and take preventative measures for mental health issues. Mental hygiene practices can be as simple as going for a walk when you need to clear your mind and get some fresh air, or focusing on breathing mindfully and slowing down when you’re feeling tense. Like brushing your teeth, caring for your mental hygiene doesn’t have to eat into your day. The smallest of efforts towards prioritizing your mental wellness can help you feel better. Here are some easy and fairly quick ways to gradually improve your mental hygiene:

Get a good night’s rest A sleep routine is one of the best ways to establish good mental hygiene. As tempting as it is to stay up late on your phone or binge your favorite show, prioritize getting rest and going to bed around the same time every night. When it comes to sleep, consistency is key. Whereas inconsistent sleep or a lack of sleep can cause people to feel more anxious and depressed the next day. It can also trigger mania, psychosis, or paranoia in people with existing mental health issues and make everyday symptoms worse. Try getting 8 hours of sleep a night, while going to bed and waking up around the same time. Establishing sleep routines will make it easier to feel present during the day.


Use positive affirmations In a study discussing the power of self-affirming talk, experts said that using positive self-talk during the day quite literally “rewards” our brains and neural pathways. Engaging in positive affirmations daily can lead to greater levels of happiness and hopefulness. One study at Dominican Universitiy of California even found that virtual affirmations, like sending a friend a positive emoji or gif, can improve both parties’ moods. It may seem silly, or even scary, to look in the mirror and say something we like about ourselves. But if we try to engage in more positivity, both with ourselves and others, it is proven to have better results on our overall health.


Make time for yourself It can be so hard to find time for yourself. Especially if you’re a parent, free time is a luxury. One kid has soccer practice here, and the other has dance there, and so on… However, finding time for yourself is so important to your mental health. It could be just a few minutes a day where you’re alone, distraction-free, doing something that brings you peace. Whether that be sitting and having a cup of coffee, or going for a quick walk around the block, try to find time just for you on a daily basis. You could even try meditating for 5 minutes while the kids take a nap! As busy as you are, it’s so important to take time and check in with yourself.

There are countless ways to engage in good mental hygiene. No matter what you choose to do, do what makes you feel refreshed, present, and hopeful on a daily basis. The most important thing is to check in with yourself and see what you need. This changes from day to day. One day you may need more exercise, another you may need a nap, or maybe you need a friend to talk to. It could be anything: just take a minute or two to recognize how you’re feeling and what you could do to feel better. Just try to take a few moments a day to do what makes you happy.


Writer: LAUREN BROADWELL, MSW

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