Guest Post by Brad Krause (selfcaring.info)
The idea of self-care can sometimes be a bit vague and all-encompassing, especially when it comes to mental health. We know that we need to build good habits to help us cope with issues like anxiety, depression, or addiction, but it can be difficult to figure out or where to start. Which is why, in this article, we have compiled a few simple self-care strategies that can help you feel better both in the moment and in the long run.
Making Exercise Work for You
Exercise is one of the pillars of a healthy life, and this extends to mental health as well as physical. However, many people struggle to maintain an exercise routine and eventually give up, frustrated and disappointed with themselves.
The trick is to make it work for you. Hate the gym? Try some at-home workouts. Can’t stand the idea of running? Go for long walks. Seniors should look out for Medicare Advantage plans that cover access to SilverSneakers, an exercise program made-for-purpose for older adults with a range of fitness classes; Humana is one of the companies that provides this service.
Eat a Balanced Breakfast
While claims that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day” may have been overblown, a balanced breakfast is still great for your health. According to Time, people who eat breakfast report higher levels of activity and eat better overall. In other words, breakfast can help you make decisions you can be proud of throughout the day.
Learn Some Basic Relaxation Techniques
Having some go-to quick relaxation techniques for when things are getting overwhelming can keep you from spiraling. Try taking five deep breaths, unclenching your jaw, writing down what has gone well in your day, or visualizing a soothing scene.
Improve Your Work-Life Balance
Of course, achieving a strong work-life balance is a long-term goal that may take time. However, one thing you can do now is to learn the signs that something is wrong. Is your free time inexistent? Do you think about work all the time? Has your work persona taken over your life? If so, it might be time to step back and reevaluate.
Make Sleep a Priority
According to Tuck, “poor sleep is both a symptom and a cause of mental illness”. Bad sleeping habits and mental health problems like anxiety and depression feed into each other. You can prevent this by building a solid sleep routine and committing to it fully. You should be going to sleep at least seven hours before your wake-up time.
Reach Out to a Friend
Several studies have shown that strong social ties are an important marker of health. On average, people with strong friendships are physically healthier, but they are also happier and more mentally resilient. Take time to nurture your friendships, for example, by reaching out to friends you haven’t spoken in a while.
Go Through Your Clutter
A UCLA study showed that people, particularly women, experienced higher levels of stress when living in cluttered environments. A good decluttering session can make you feel lighter in the moment, but it will also make you more relaxed in the long run. If you can’t manage that, a simple tidying and organizing session can also do wonders to make you feel more at ease.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal sounds a bit corny to some people, but they can be a huge source of comfort and positivity. Every day, you write down what you are grateful for. To make sure you actually stick to your habit, get a nice journal, make time for writing every day (it can be as little as five minutes!), and, if stuck, look for prompts that can give you some inspiration.
Don’t forget that good mental health can take time to build. Self-compassion is just as much a part of self-care than building healthy habits, so be kind to yourself and don’t linger on feelings of shame or disappointment when you have a less-than-ideal day. You will find that the more you practice this, the healthier your relationship with yourself will be — and the more motivated you will be to work on your physical and mental health.