Positive affirmations, deep breaths are important habits to help you feel calm

How to practice self-care

Arthur Elementary School student Colton Carver, then-third grader, reads to himself in Carmen Girdner's class in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

The world can be a stressful place. It’s important for everyone to cope by practicing self-care.

Self-care isn’t just about doing one nice thing that you enjoy — it’s about creating regular habits that help your mind and body stay healthy.

The National Institutes of Mental Health says even just small acts can have a big difference in helping people manage stress, increase energy and lower the chance of illness.

Self-care looks differently for everyone, and it might take some time to find what works best for you. Here are a few habits you can use to get started:

Take deep breaths

If you need a break from your emotions, reset by concentrating on your breathing.

Take a big, deep breath through the nose until your whole chest fills up with air. Hold it for one second, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. If you do this a few times when you’re feeling stressed out or anxious, it can help you feel calmer.

Taking a few breaths each morning, even when you’re not stressed, can be a good way to start your day off on the right foot.

Practice positive affirmations

Come up with a phrase or a mantra that is empowering to you, like “I am smart and creative,” or “I am important and capable.”

Repeat this phrase in your head while taking a few deep breaths anytime you need a boost. You can also write your phrase on a sticky note and post it somewhere you can read it everyday. Try putting it on your bedroom door or bathroom mirror.

Move! Move! Move!

Staying active is an important part of staying healthy mentally and physically. It can even keep you emotionally healthy — exercising regularly causes your brain to release chemicals that leave you feeling happier, according to Amherst College.

Find a friend or family member to play a soccer game or any kind of game that involves physical activity. Even just taking a long walk or breaking out in a one-minute dance break can be enough to break a bad mood and release that stressful energy.

At the same time, get plenty of rest

Just as moving around can help balance your feelings, getting enough rest each day is key to keeping your mind and body healthy. That means making sure you get plenty of sleep each night.

It can also mean taking breaks and doing something alone, such as reading a book or doing another quiet activity for 10 minutes. Taking these breaks every day — especially on busy days when you don’t have a lot of time to yourself — is a good habit to form as you grow up.

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