How is Life Tree(ting) You?: The Importance of Practicing Mental Health Hygiene
When you think of hygiene, what are the first things that come to mind? Brushing your teeth, taking a shower, washing your hands, or any daily practice to help keep your body clean and healthy.
Aside from taking care of your physical body, practicing good mental health hygiene is equally important—instead of keeping your body free of bacteria, mental hygiene helps to free your mind of cortisol, the main stress hormone. By spending at least 15 minutes on your mental health hygiene each day, you reap the benefits of an improved mood, better relationships, deeper concentration, and enhanced creativity. The best part is you can start practicing mental health hygiene wherever you happen to be!
How can you start practicing mental hygiene?
- Set aside 15 minutes of your day, preferably at the start of your day. This will allow you to reset your mental space so that the stressors of the day are not piling on top of an already overwhelmed system.
- Start with one activity you do every day. This can be brushing your teeth, washing dishes, walking to class, meditating, or drinking your coffee. The important thing is to find something that does not take extra time and that you can dedicate all your attention to.
- Once you find an activity, allow your mind to fully immerse in it. This means focusing on every sensation— touch, sound, sight, smell, and taste—that you experience from the activity. For example, if brushing your teeth, avoid thinking about your schedule for the day or all your to-do-list items. Rather, think about the feeling of the bristles on your teeth and gums, the temperature of the water, the taste of the toothpaste, to allow your mind to slow down and intentionally focus on your inner well-being.
Take the time to find what works for you by experimenting with different activities and finding the ones that help bring you calm and lower stress. It can be helpful to have multiple mindful activities so that you can apply them at different times, depending on what you need at that moment.
Eventually, mental health hygiene will become a part of your everyday routine and soon enough, you will experience an overall greater sense of well-being.
- Well-Being Coaching Need additional support in practicing mental health hygiene? Well-Being Coaches can help you make shifts in beliefs and behaviors to improve your overall well-being, as well as offer support when you’re struggling.
- Resources for Our Communities is a hub created by Student Affairs to provide you with resources both on and off campus to better support you during your time at Stanford. Take time to care for yourself by exploring a variety of services, guidance, and more!
- Mental health hygiene can improve mood, decrease stress Stanford Medicine
- Videos to support your mental health Counseling and Psychological Services