Mental hygiene is a term that has gained steam in recent years. Mental hygiene is the proactive practice of preserving and protecting your mental health. Think of the 3 Ps Proactive, Preserve and Protect. It is just as important as practicing good physical hygiene.
After a few days of missing a physical hygiene practice, there are physical signs such as appearance, touch and smell that indicate the teeth or body need attention. The same is true for our mental health. There are signs that mental hygiene needs to be attended to that are often overlooked. A few include, feeling restless, hopeless, anxious or overwhelmed. They may present in tandem with the physical as in difficulty falling or staying asleep, poor appetite, headaches or muscle aches.
Engage in practices and activities prior to feeling stressed or distressed. Have a list of things that you know help your mood.
Maintain your current mental and emotional state. Think about what you are doing when you are feeling like your best version of self. List some of the things you do and make a practice of doing more of them.
Set boundaries around your time, mental and physical space. Give yourself time and space for introspection and reflection.
Tools of mental hygiene may be the same tools that are interventions when you are distressed. You do not have to wait to be in distress to practice some of the interventions: breathing, body scans, progressive muscle relaxation. You can find descriptions in “Tis the Season for Self Care” and “Ten Things to Do Today to Create More ME (Mindful & Engaged) Moments.” When done proactively, these tools are part of mental hygiene. Be Well & Be Whole