SELF CARE & MENTAL HEALTH
What percentage of your day do you feel stressed? The American Psychological Association conducts annual surveys to evaluate Americans’ relationships with stress. The percentage of Americans experiencing at least one symptom of stress—nervousness/anxiousness, irritability/anger, and fatigue—each day increased to 75 percent in 2017. So if you’re among those worried about your work, finances, or family, you’re not alone.
When you find yourself feeling stressed, it’s critical to your mental health that you make time for self-care, even if that means scheduling it into your day and learning how to say “no.”
Why is self-care so important?
Self-care enables you to have a healthy relationship with yourself, and that relationship translates into positive feelings, higher self-esteem, increased confidence, and better relationships with others.
If you’re raising a family, it’s important for your children to see the value you place in taking care of yourself, too. They’ll learn about setting healthy boundaries and how making time for self-care enhances mental health, happiness, and self-fulfillment by:
- Managing and reducing stress’s effects on your mind and body.
- Incorporating relaxation into each day.
- Creating a better work/life balance.
- Facilitating your ability to re-engage with life and tackle anything, by helping you refocus on what’s important.
Inexpensive (and free) self-care ideas
There’s no one-size-fits-all method of self-care. What some people find relaxing and meditative, others may dread, so find what works best for you. Here are some simple self-care habits you can incorporate into your life.
Move. Go for a light run, jog, walk, bike ride, or swim each day. Exercise doesn’t have to include an intense 60-minute workout every day. Moderate exercise of 150 minutes a week or vigorous activity of 75 minutes a week is all you need.
Practice deep breathing. We breathe without thinking about it, but often that means we’re taking shallower, less beneficial breaths. Conscious deep breathing improves your oxygen supply, relaxes nerves and muscles, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the cardiovascular system, reduces stress and negative emotions, and helps with meditation.
Meditate. Meditation’s great for calming and re-focusing your mind. It requires no special equipment and is something you can do during any part of the day.
Start a journal. Journaling has a wide range of benefits. From working through problems or recording thoughts and feelings, writing therapy has proven quite effective in treating mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, PTSD, SUD, OCD, and low self-esteem.
Unplug. When you’re facing a 24-7 barrage of emails or texts, stress mounts. The obsessive need to constantly check social media hinders productivity, too, as does the feeling that you should be constantly available for work needs. Studies show that scheduling unplugged time benefits your brain, which needs recovery time to develop and grow.
Sleep. The benefits to a good night’s sleep are innumerable. Productive, restful sleep improves memory, learning, and mental performance. It improves mental and emotional health, too.
Hang out with your dog. Who can resist a happy, frolicking pup? Snuggling with your pet is the best distraction from stress. Dogs give you a reason to go outside and move. They reduce allergies and build immunity in kids. They keep you present and engaged. Dogs listen well and reduce loneliness, and they love unconditionally.
Here are more ideas on how to practice self-care:
- Take a break when you need it and relax guilt free.
- Find something that makes you laugh each day.
- Stop overthinking; learn how to say “no.”
- Take a class for fun.
- Read books, watch movies, or listen to podcasts.
- Schedule regular massages.
Self-care is critical for your mental and physical well-being. It’s not an indulgence, but a necessity that increases your ability to enjoy life.
Source: Brad Krause
Photo Credit: Pexels
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