Self-care is about meeting your basic needs so you can be physically and mentally healthy. When we feel stressed, overwhelmed or burnt out, we can start to neglect the basics of looking after ourselves.
Our nutrition, movement and sleep health all affect on our brain and mental health, which is why it's so important to self-care – especially if you are starting to struggle with your mental health. Sometimes, the term ‘self-care’ is misused to describe things you might buy – like a manicure or smoothie. These things might be pleasant, but they don’t necessarily add up to self-care.
Young people should do at least 60 minutes of vigorous exercise every day for optimal health.
There are lots of individual differences. Different exercises affect people differently, and every individual body has different capabilities. It’s important to find ways to move your body that work for you and that you enjoy!
Why is it important to move our bodies?
Exercise has social, emotional and health benefits, including reduced risk of diseases, increased concentration, increased confidence, and reduced aggression.
Lack of exercise is also associated with increased feelings of depression. If you are someone who struggles with stress or anxiety, exercise can mimic ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response, which can
send your brain a message to calm down. This is because your brain thinks you have fought off or run away from a possible danger! Studies have even shown that exercise is
actually an effective treatment for feelings of anxiety and depression.
Nutrition is very important for brain health and your mental health, and we can only get nutrients from food. Our brain needs a lot of energy to function. In fact, 20% of the nutrients we eat are used by our brain as energy! There are lots of important reasons why eating healthy is important for your brain. But let’s just take one specific brain chemical as an example:
Serotonin is an important ‘neurotransmitter’ (chemical messenger) for regulating your moods
Nutrition plays a key role in the production of serotonin in your brain.
90% of serotonin is made in your digestive system
Eating the right foods plays a key role in preventing and treating mental health issues like depression
Lack of sleep can contribute to mental health issues.
You need about 8-10 hours of sleep per night. That amount of sleep is harder to get than it sounds, because the ‘body clocks’ of teens and young adults naturally keep them up late at night and make them want to sleep in until mid-morning.
Having a smartphone, feeling anxious, etc. can all impact
on falling asleep and quality of sleep. While many things can
impact mental health, including lots of things we can’t control – such as genetics – sleep is one thing we can control.