Often when we think of “being healthy” we limit those thoughts to a healthy diet or to just exercising or to simply losing weight. But actually we should look at the total concept of self-care which includes all the thoughts mentioned above as well as our mental health.
Recently I was introduced to this concept by Brad Krause who left the corporate world to promote the notion of “self-care.” He kindly released the following article for me to share with you.
This Is Why Self-Care Is So Crucial
For Mental Health
The phrase “taking care of yourself” goes beyond how you look on the outside. In fact, health professionals tout self-care as both a preventative and curative measure for depression — one of the main destructors of mental health. But between the endless pile of work on the desk to conflicting family schedules, it’s not uncommon for individuals to put themselves last. While that may feel like a valiant move at the time, the consequences that come with lack of self-care include extreme stress, anxiety, and depression — all of which can have a negative impact on one’s physical health, too. Here’s a deeper dive into how these individual elements can adversely affect overall well-being.
Don’t Overlook The Basics
The fundamentals of self-care are the ones we often neglect in our lives — which can greatly affect mental state.
- Sleep: Studies indicate that lack of sleep can cause irritability and stress, but if it becomes chronic (insomnia), a more serious mood disorder like depression can kick in. On the flip side, adequate sleep can enhance overall well-being by improving mood and productivity. To achieve proper sleep, get to bed at the same time each night, engage in relaxing activities before bed (warm bath, meditation, etc.), eat nutritiously — but not too late in the day — and make your sleeping environment relaxing, cozy, and clutter-free.
- Eating Well: Research suggests that a healthy diet can banish feelings of depression while improving overall mental outlook. In short, when you eat better, you’ll feel better. While the basics of a healthy diet include plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, psychologists have linked omega-3 fatty acids with aiding deficiencies associated with mental health disorders. On a more maintenance-based level, eating omega-3-rich foods such as salmon, sardines, eggs, chia seeds, walnuts, and leafy green vegetables can improve mood and fight symptoms of depression.
- Take Time To Relax: Our bodies weren’t meant to be in a constant state of stress, so whether or not you lead a stressful lifestyle, incorporate some relaxation techniques into your daily life. Some tips that take five minutes or less include: breathing exercises (try a guided app), meditation, listen to calming music, or a stroll in a quiet environment.
- Know How To Say No: Being a perpetual people pleaser only creates extra personal stress, so learn the power of “no.” While it takes some practice, don’t feel guilty, compromise if necessary, keep your response simple, and buy yourself time so you’ll be able to say no more easily.
What To Do If You’re A Recovery Survivor
Since there’s a link to addiction and mental health, recovery survivors need to stick to the basics of self-care while implementing some extra practices during recovery in order to avoid a relapse. Some suggestions that have proven to be effective include exercise (team-based and singular), meditation, taking up a new hobby (art and music therapies are treatments of their own), and spending time outdoors — plant a garden, have a picnic, go camping, take a hike. Along with taking in mood-boosting vitamin D from the sun, spending time outside is known for having copious mental health benefits.
In order to be your best self, you have to make time for yourself. If you start to feel off-kilter, take a step back and take a look at each facet of your life and see where you can make improvements in order to achieve more balance. Even if it’s just for a few moments a day at a time, self-care is absolutely necessary for optimal mental health.
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