Most of us pay close attention to how our body feels. We visit the doctor when we're sick and alter our diet when we react negatively to certain foods. But, how many of us pay attention to our mental well-being? The mind works in a similar way to the body, thriving off of healthy choices and struggling under stress.
When our mental health suffers, learning feels more like a frustrating chore than an enjoyable process of growth. Try out the following self-care tips that can help on your journey to develop and maintain a growth mindset, and in turn become a better learner!
Get More Sleep
According to Mental Health America, a good night’s sleep can improve memory, increase productivity, and otherwise help us succeed in our daily tasks. Plus, sticking to a regular sleep schedule can reduce your risk of anxiety and depression. If you find yourself waking up feeling groggy, fighting fatigue throughout the day, lying awake at night, or relying on caffeine to get you going in the morning, there’s a good chance you’re lacking some serious zzz’s. Consider adopting a regular bedtime routine and engaging in relaxing activities at least an hour before bed to help your mind wind down. Getting all the sleep your brain needs to be primed for learning will help you develop a stronger, smarter brain.
Reduce Stress in Your Home
It’s normal to experience stress on occasion. But when stress becomes a chronic problem, our mental health can take a serious hit. Not only does chronic stress contribute to mood disorders and anxiety, but it alters areas of the brain involved in memory and critical thinking. This reduces the brain’s learning efficiency and makes it difficult to maintain a growth mindset. Reducing stress by turning your home into a relaxing environment can help your mind rejuvenate. For instance, consider decluttering your home for greater mental clarity and setting up a serene environment with nature-related decorations. Live plants, leaf-patterns, photographs of nature, and landscape paintings are good options, and several studies have shown a link between natural environments and reduced stress levels.
Take Care of Your Body
Just as your body benefits from exercise and healthy eating, so does your brain. Participating in physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve stress and boost your energy for better learning. According to Business Insider, any exercise that increases your heart rate has a positive effect on your brain, improving memory and fighting symptoms of depression. At the same time, diet plays a key role in regulating emotion and cognition. For example, omega-3 fatty acids from fish can help your neurons communicate with greater efficiency, while folate, vitamin B12, and other essential vitamins found in whole foods protect brain functions and promote cell growth.
Schedule Some “Me” Time
Although socializing is an important part of living a happy and fulfilling life, making time for yourself is equally important. This time should be used to engage in activities that you enjoy. Whether it means practicing yoga or developing a complex skill you've always wanted to learn, "me" time should be dedicated to your own personal goals. In fact, personal time is a wonderful opportunity to flex your growth mindset. Learning new things on your own can help you harness your ability to improve at anything when you put in the effort. This increases confidence and prevents us from engaging in negative self-judgment when we encounter setbacks.
Like most things in life, using self-care as a tool for developing a growth mindset requires a little bit of self-discipline and perseverance. Just as practice is essential for mastering a musical instrument, regularly engaging in self-care is important for developing lifelong healthy habits. Think of self-care as another skill that anyone can learn with a little dedication. Appropriate self-care, along with a growth mindset, will improve every aspect of your life!
Brad Krause is a self-care advocate and created selfcaring.info to share his knowledge with others.