Today’s life is bustling. We are always on the go, doing more and more. Yet, by ignoring self-care, we do ourselves real damage. Here is how you can commit to yourself and improve your mental health.
A good start to self-care is relaxing. It can be difficult to come home and turn off, so to speak. Many of us rely on television to fuel our relaxation, and that does not always work well. Instead, we need to take a more active role. Meditation can be one such way. Studies suggest it helps lower stress levels and other negative emotions. If meditating isn’t for you, try exposing yourself to green spaces and nature. A walk in a park can positively influence how we feel mentally and emotionally. Daily outings are best, but even spending time in nature once or twice a week can do a lot to lift our spirits.
Eat for Gut Wellness
It’s surprising, but the good bacteria in our gut plays a large role in the state of our mental wellness. When our gut is healthy, anxiety and depression are eased. This bacteria may assist our brains in producing the chemicals that make us feel good. To limit the bad bacteria, and increase the good, avoid overly processed and sugary foods. Instead, opt for leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and more natural sweeteners, like maple syrup or honey.
Further, probiotics, like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, produce an acid that specifically lowers anxiety. Fermented foods contain natural probiotics, so eat your yogurt and kimchi. These small dietary changes are easy and can have a lasting impact.
Exercise Away Stress
One way to raise your spirits immediately, and in the long run, is through exercise. Your body produces endorphins when you work out, which make you feel better. Moreover, a consistent fitness regimen can lower rates of depression. It does not have to be intense activity, either. Even gentle walking can bring drastic improvements in how we feel. Just 10 minutes a day of low-intensity activity can be a good beginning to a healthy routine. If you need something low-impact, try yoga or swimming. Both are good forms of exercise that do not strain joints.
Make Sleep a Priority
When we don’t get enough sleep, our mental health takes a turn for the worse. Our stress levels spike, and we may get depressed if it goes on long enough. Thankfully, there are ways to improve how well you sleep. Avoid stimulants and depressants. That means cutting coffee at night and limiting alcohol. Turn your devices off an hour before bed to help your brain relax. Keep your room as dark and cool as you can while still being comfortable. Darkness and cold air help our bodies stay at rest. If you need an additional boost, a glass of warm milk can increase melatonin, which can help you feel sleepy and get the slumber you need.
Stress is unavoidable, so we need to learn techniques to manage it positively. Sometimes, that means knowing when to lessen our load by saying “no” to coworkers or friends. Other times, it means engaging in healthy activities that reduce or process stress. Meditation is one approach. Guided imagery is popular, as is hypnosis. Keeping a journal is a means to clear our thoughts and reconcile with events that caused us anxiety. By doing so, we can better find solutions to these issues. When feeling stress in the moment, slow and purposeful breathing can release frustration. Over time, these practices can become second nature and greatly increase well-being.
Life is sometimes overwhelming. Your mental health can suffer when you put your own needs on the back burner. It’s time to start feeling better by looking after yourself. It’s what you deserve.
This was a guest post from Brad – Learn more about Self Caring on his website.