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How Self-Care Improves Mental Health

Self-Care and Nutrition

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Increasingly, people are incorporating self-care into their overall wellness plans. UT Dallas asserts that self-care is an action that one can take to increase comfort in a manner that supports and promotes health.

This includes basic practices like taking deep breaths when we’re overwhelmed, actively being mindful, making healthy food choices, and getting enough sleep.

Self-care isn’t just a way to feel good, but to also enable growth. When it comes to maintaining and improving mental health, self-care is an especially vital tool.

 

Personal limits

Stress can accompany attempts to serve and satisfy everyone. The inability to say no when justified and appropriate overburden us. When someone, such as an employer or a spouse, asks us to do something that we would prefer not to do, sometimes it’s ok to just say no.

It’s important to note that there is a very real connection between work stress and mental health issues and taking on too much at work can be a gateway to unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

  • Say no when you are already overburdened with responsibilities.
  • Avoid feelings of guilt by reminding yourself that your time is best spent maintaining your own health.
  • Remember, you don’t have to cater to everyone. Even your children should learn to accept “no” as an answer. 

 

The magic of sleep

Many know that doctors recommend around eight hours of good sleep each night for optimum health. Sleep plays a key role in our mental health, but in our busy schedules, many people find that they don’t have enough time in the day to get those eight hours.

Those who are sleep deprived are more likely to develop mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. On the other hand, those experiencing these issues can often alleviate them by getting more sleep. Here’s how to incorporate more sleep – and brain health – into your life:

  • Increase activity. Those who work out sleep better simply because they are more tired.
  • Retrain your sleep and daily schedule. Hit the sack earlier to make sure you get the sleep you need. This will likely require changing your pre-bedtime habits.
  • Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Keep it dark, and remove TVs, electronic devices, and other distractions.

 

Add more positivity to your life

Negative self-talk occurs when we doubt ourselves from within. While unfettered optimism may be less desirable than realism, constant negativity just traps us in a holding pattern that impedes progress.

Optimism leads to less distress, lower rates of depression, and improved ability to cope during hard times. Try opening your life to change. Make small adjustments to your day and you will see a big impact on your overall level of happiness.

  • Spend time with friends and family. Medical News Today contributor Maria Cohut notes that humans are social creatures and as such need interaction. Face-to-face contact may even make us more resilient to stress.
  • Do a “me task” each day. Whether you spend an hour soaking in a warm tub or simply sneak in a few minutes with a foot massager, you need time devoted to you.
  • Smile more. When you smile and laugh, your brain gets more oxygen and your nervous system calms down. 

 

Eat right

There is an undeniable link between the nutrition you intake and the health of your body and brain. ABC News explains that nutrition is a key factor in mental health and eating the right foods supports every system in your body.

  • Avoid empty foods. Processed noodles, boxed cakes, and candy are no more satisfying than fruit or warm whole grain toast. These foods also contribute to weight gain and diabetes. 
  • Eat a rainbow of colors. Fresh produce comes in a range of colors, tastes, and textures. Incorporate color into each meal. A Spinach omelet, strawberry smoothie, or snack of asparagus is a great start. 
  • Choose lean proteins. Fish, chicken, and turkey are tasty ways to fill your place. A mounting body of evidence suggests that fish and other healthy fats can reduce systemic inflammation. 

Simple self-care steps help us attain greater mental health. When we attend to our comfort and help enable our growth, our minds fill with positivity that forces away depression, anxiety, and negativity.

 

About the author

Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly.

After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing.

He created SelfCaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.

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