The wonder of internet is that you can find information about everything and connect with people all around the world. That's what happened to me; I had an email from Brad who wanted to share his thoughts on mental health and how to "do good things" for yourself. I found this very interesting and agreed to share his point of view on the subject!
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.
Here are Brads thoughts and ideas - enjoy!
Take Care of Your Mental Health by Taking Care of Yourself
When you think about mental health, your mind might go straight to psychology, counseling and medicine. Taking care of your mental health isn’t always about seeing a professional. Practicing self-care if just as important, if not more. Self-care is simple, within your control, costs nothing and can be practiced everyday with minimal effort. The difficult part about self-care is prioritizing it, so make a commitment to take care of you.
Take good care of your health. Nutrition has an impact on your physical and mental health because it nourishes your body and brain. The food that goes into your body should feed your health, not take away from it. Your diet should be a balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. It should be rich in vegetables, fruit, lean protein, antioxidants and healthy fats including olive oil and avocado. It should be the right amount for your body—not too much and not too little. Overeating isn’t good, and neither is under eating. A cheat day every now and then is OK, too. Part of self-care is also enjoying life.
Exercise should be practiced in tandem with a healthy, nutritious diet. The endorphins from exercising can promote positive feelings and reduce stress. If you’re moving or walking a bit everyday and exercising a few days a week, then you’re on the right track.
Even if you don’t have time to exercise, you can find small ways to move more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Walk to places that are nearby instead of driving. Park farther away from your destination so that you have to walk more. Wear a fitness tracker that reminds you to move and keeps you accountable. Get up from your desk every hour or two (you can force yourself to move by drinking out of a small cup of water that needs to be filled frequently).
One of the best ways to care for yourself is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. Avoid the cycle of getting less sleep on the weekdays and binge sleeping on the weekends. Make sure you get adequate sleep (about seven to nine hours) as many nights as possible, even if it means going to bed earlier each night. Your body and mind function better when they’re well rested on a routine sleep schedule.
Relaxing and reducing stress are important factors in protecting your mental health. This could mean turning your mind off sometimes, going through the physical motions like breathing or squeezing a stress ball and finding ways to cope with anxious thoughts.
Be around people who treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Choose who gets to know you and who gets to be close to you. It’s OK to be picky about your friends. Your time and energy are precious, and you shouldn’t have to waste time on friends who aren’t good for you or family members that drain you. It’s OK to set firm boundaries and say no to anything that doesn’t serve you or make you better.
If you’re in addiction recovery, you should practice saying no to things that aren’t good for you. It’s especially important to only surround yourself with sober influences to avoid the risk of relapse. Another important aspect of self-care is your physical health. Adopt a healthy diet and pick up a new hobby like meditation and yoga to help relax and calm you.
There’s a delicate balance between what’s good for you and what you enjoy. On one hand, you should focus on being healthy as a way to care for the one life you have. On the other hand, you only get to live once, so you shouldn’t deprive yourself of occasional treats (only if they don’t hurt your sobriety). On one hand, sleep is good for your body and brain. On the other hand, another hour of Netflix makes you laugh and go to bed happy. It’s great to let yourself do what you want on occasion. But as you take care of your wants, don’t forget to take care of your needs, too.