The Mental Health Benefits of Good Self-Care

            Good habits of self-care promote healthy lifestyles and emotional wellness, but they also have some surprising benefits for good mental health. Here are some tips for taking better care of yourself.

Live Healthy:
            Make yourself and your good health a priority. You deserve to look and feel your best, so give yourself permission to take care of your own needs. You need eight hours rest each night, so plan accordingly and make bedtime a special time for unwinding and relaxing. Turn off your electronics and put yourself out of reach; the world will still be there, with all its problems in the morning. You’ll just be better able to address them if you’ve had a good night’s rest. Examine your diet and ask yourself, are you making a point of feeding yourself healthy, delicious, nutritious food? We need good food to function at optimum levels. There are strong correlations between mental clarity and emotional outlook, and a healthy gut microbiome.  Fast food and microwave meals are no way to go through life; chuck the junk food and focus on bringing in good quality fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and high protein meats. Grant yourself the time to cook and prepare real meals and snacks.

Move More:

            There are numerous benefits to getting regular physical exercise.  Weight lifting builds strong bones and stimulates the immune system. Walking, biking, and swimming strengthen the cardiovascular system and build muscle. Just thirty minutes a day of moderate physical activity can speed up healing from injuries or illness. It promotes weight loss, longevity, and helps to maintain mobility and agility as we age. Perhaps most important of all, a regular exercise regimen elevates mood and sense of well-being, increasing creativity and raising self-confidence. For people who struggle with depression and mental illness, exercise can yield even greater benefits. It has known stress-reducing effects, and releases endorphins that act as natural pain relievers and antidepressants. It alleviates anxiety and can even prevent, or slow, the onset of cognitive decline.

Think Healthy:
            For people who are in recovery from an addiction, or dealing with stress and trauma, negative thought patterns can lead into a downward spiral. Yoga, journaling, and meditation all promote healthy thinking patterns and help to create an optimistic frame of mind . Learning relaxation techniques can help to stave off stress responses. Consider taking up a new hobby; by tapping in to your creative potential you can contribute to your recovery. It will not only distract you from unhealthy thoughts, but give you a release for stress and create a new source for self-confidence and self worth. Try to engage in something you find enjoyable and relaxing, each day. It can be as simple as gardening, taking a walk outdoors, or even making time for prayer. But making time to think happy thoughts is a powerful tool for overcoming adversity.

Make New Connections:

            When we’ve been in an unhealthy situation, such as an illness or an addiction, we often lose contact with friends and family. But social connections to friends and family provide vital support when we’re dealing with challenges. Make time each day to interact with other people. Increase your support network by joining a club or taking a new class. Studies show that people with strong support systems actually enjoy better health, and live longer. Social isolation, by contrast, is strongly correlated with greater levels of depression and mental and physical illness.

It’s Okay To Say No:

            Overcommitment is a recipe for exhaustion, so in addition to prioritizing your health, learn to prioritize your time. Be wary of accepting every invitation or agreeing to every favor. There are only a set number of minutes in a day, and every social obligation takes away from the time you have available to meet your own professional and emotional needs. Don’t skimp on what you need in order to supply what someone else wants. Your friends will understand, because they probably are trying to juggle their schedules in just the same way you are.

            Learn to prioritize your physical and mental well being by taking proper care of yourself. Proper rest, a balanced diet, and a good exercise regimen will make you physically stronger and healthier. A healthier body has greater resources to call upon to fight off illness and and respond to stress, whether physical or mental. Give body and mind the care they need, so that you can be the very best version of yourself.

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