Practicing self-care is about knowing what we need to do to take care of ourselves. It involves taking deliberate actions to support our overall health and wellness. Often overlooked, these practices can improve mental health and reduce the risk of disorders like depression and anxiety. Anyone can take these simple steps to support a healthy mind!
1. Manage Stress at Work
When you experience stress, your brain produces chemicals, which trigger the release of “fight or flight” hormones in your body. This has many psychological effects, contributing to anxiety, panic attacks and the development of phobias. Stress also affects our ability to think clearly and can even contribute to feelings of insecurity. So, it’s important to reduce stress in every aspect of your life.
To cut down on job stress, learn how to say “no.” This could mean tracking your stressors so you can avoid taking on tasks that produce anxiety. Many people find it helpful to set boundaries with their boss or coworkers. For example, you could make it a rule to not reply to emails during time off or answer the phone on the weekends. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a heavy workload, talk to your supervisor about making changes to your responsibilities.
2. Reduce Stress at Home
You can also play an active role in reducing stress at home. Create a special space or room in your home dedicated to meditation. This will help you tune out from distracting thoughts more quickly and tap into the calming effects of your relaxation space. In this space, you may want to practice relaxation techniques to keep your mind from dwelling on negative thoughts.
Family can also be beneficial to your mental health. Healthline suggests that sitting down and eating dinner with your family has the potential to reduce stress and improve job happiness. Additionally, you can split up household tasks with other members of your family to avoid feeling overwhelmed by chores.
3. Quiet Your Mind with Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can be practiced anywhere and everywhere. These help lower stress and also improve various mental health disorders. Deep breathing reduces tension by sending a message to your brain that your environment is calm and it’s OK for your body to relax. Progressive muscle relaxation works in a similar way. When your body feels relaxed, it’s next to impossible for you to feel anxious. Guided imagery takes advantage of the mind-body connection to relax your body by imagining yourself in a calming setting. These techniques can be practiced in your home meditation space, or even at your office desk!
4. Follow a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Getting quality sleep each night is key to protecting your mental health and ensuring you maintain a positive mood throughout the day. People who are regularly sleep deprived often suffer from memory loss, cognitive impairment, depression and mood disorders among many additional physical problems. Establishing a regular sleep schedule and avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime will help you get better quality sleep. Exercising and eating healthy will also increase the quality of your sleep, which is more important than simply increasing the amount of time you spend asleep.
5. Fuel Yourself with Brain-Friendly Foods
One important aspect of self-care is providing your body with the nutrients it needs to feel good. Some of the best foods for your brain are whole grains, leafy greens, lean protein, fatty fish and probiotics. According to Psychology Today, a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet leads to premature aging of the brain, poor memory and other cognitive defects. These whole, natural foods keep your essential brain chemicals balanced and improve cognitive functioning.
Don’t forget, self-care takes time and practice! Although these tips sound simple, it can be difficult to make significant changes to your lifestyle like altering your diet or adding meditation to your routine. It may be helpful to develop a self-care plan that you can follow for a couple of months until these practices become a habit.
Author Bio: Caleb Anderson developed an opiate addiction after being in a car accident. He’s in recovery today and wants to inspire others to overcome their addictions.
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