Please enjoy this guest article written by Brad Krause, of Self Caring.
Our mental health can be affected by many things over the course of a year. As we are exposed to grief, stress, depression, and major life changes, the map of the brain changes, altering the way we think and feel. That’s why it’s important to practice self-care often — every day, in fact — in order to counteract the effects of those negative forces. But what, exactly, is self-care?
That’s a complicated question with many answers. For some, self-care is simply taking time for themselves after a busy day. For others, it’s figuring out how to get adequate sleep even when anxiety is at its worst. What self-care means to you may change over time, and it may be something different from what works for someone else. Taking care of yourself is a personal journey, so it’s important to be specific about your needs when getting started.
Here are a few ideas to help you plan out a self-care routine.
Exercising daily can have a profound effect on your mood, boosting your mental health and staving off the effects of depression and anxiety and reducing stress. It can be difficult to stay motivated, however, especially if you have a busy schedule or are feeling particularly low. One great way to ensure that you’ll stick with your routine is to invest in a fitness tracker. These devices can measure your heart rate, calories burned, and steps, and some even have a compass built in.
Get Some Sleep
Many adults in the United States aren’t getting quality sleep at night, and while the reasons vary, the outcome is the same: a decline in mental health. For some, anxiety or other mood disorders factor in; for others, a busy schedule or small children may be the culprit. If you go to bed late and wake up early, it’s a good idea to take another look at your sleep schedule to see if you can make some changes that will benefit you. You might think about how you can relax before bed, like reading a book or using a white noise machine, or cut down your screen time in the evenings, which can have a significant effect on your ability to get good sleep.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
It may seem easier said than done, but there are several things you can do to reduce your stress levels. If you’re feeling overworked, talk to your supervisor about your workload, or set some guidelines about how much you work from home. Learn to say “no” when you’re stretched too thin. Taking things out of the office can be helpful now and then, but when you do it all the time, it can add stress and leave you feeling overwhelmed. If your stress comes from home, get organized and consider decluttering, which can help to boost your mood and your productivity. You can also reduce stress with some deep breathing and meditation.
Sometimes self-care is all about getting away from the pressures of everyday life. Taking a break to travel can help you feel centered and allow you to focus on things outside of the activities that bring you the most stress. You don’t have to take a two-week vacation; think smaller. Take a day trip over the weekend, or hit the spa with a friend. Do something just for yourself that makes you happy, and you’ll feel the positive effects for days afterward.
Self-care can be a tricky thing. Some people feel selfish for focusing on themselves, while others are worried that they don’t have time to get everything done and still carve out an hour for their own needs. Remember that you can’t be your best self if you’re stressed or exhausted.
By: Guest author: Brad Krause, Self Caring
Published with permission.
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