The Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care
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In 2014, a report found that American workers are “insecure, underpaid, highly stressed, and generally unhappy at work.” This state of affairs may be a clue as to why illnesses and mental health issues seem to be on the rise.
While you must make enough money to pay your bills, you also must make time for self-care. In fact, neglecting self-care can make you sick. That can cost you – and, according to The Society for Human Resource Management, your employer – in productivity, good decision-making, and effective work.
Proper self-care can produce:
- Lower stress levels.
- Increased self-confidence.
- Improved brain function.
- More productivity.
- Better immunity – and, therefore, fewer sick days.
Tried and true methods of self-care include eating healthy, exercise, quitting bad habits, and avoiding overindulgence. However, there are some practices you may have overlooked.
Self-Care Practices You May Be Missing
These practices are necessary to maintaining good mental health.
Getting enough sleep.
We’ve often been told that most adults need 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, that’s not accurate. The National Sleep Foundation recently studied sleep times. They found that most adults between the ages of 18 and 64 require 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Where you lie on that spectrum depends on your body. You probably already know if you are sleeping 6 hours (or less) a night but your body and brain need 8. It’s time to get to bed earlier.
Another self-care practice many people overlook is relaxation. Doesn’t sleep count? You might need additional relaxation time to manage an overload of stress. If you’re struggling to make decisions, settle your brain down at night, are often anxious, and can’t seem to “catch your breath” during your day, relaxation time can help you cope.
Use one of these techniques a few minutes a day:
- Hot bath with Epsom salts.
- Deep breathing exercises.
- Journaling. This is very effective early in the morning to clear your mind.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). This is a technique that helps you relax tensed muscles. Learn how in this article from Guide To Psychology.
We live in a world where we feel guilty whenever we say “no.” The truth is we can’t do everything. We have to pick our priorities on the basis of who and what is important to us. It’s time to learn to say no to things that will bog us down. Learn how from this guide at Personal Excellence.
While all the habits above can help, stress is one of the most pressing issues in modern life. Unchecked, it can contribute to sickness, stroke, and heart disease. These techniques can help reduce stress:
- Stress-busting foods.
Reduce caffeine and fill up on foods that reduce stress, such as nuts and seeds, spinach, and salmon.
- Walk in nature.
Nature has a calming and healthy effect on the mind and body.
Calming essential oils, such as lavender, in a diffuser can help.
Learn more ways to relieve stress from Very Well Mind.
For People In Addiction Recovery
It’s also helpful for people in addiction recovery programs to maintain self-care habits. Here are some tips:
- Pick up a new hobby.
Learning a new skill, like playing an instrument or gourmet cooking, can provide purpose, structure, and engagement in your down time to keep you occupied. As you improve, you’ll build confidence.
- Meditation and yoga.
These practices balance your cortisol levels, which reduces stress and allows your body and mind to heal.
In today’s world, self-care is underrated but it is just as important to creating a successful life as recovery from stress, illness, or addiction. Take the time today to integrate these practices into your life. You’ll be glad you did.
Bio of 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.