Are you feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed right now? Well, you have every right to feel that way. It is a good habit to reflect on all the things you have and not ruminate on all the things going wrong, to keep your mental health balanced. However, sometimes it is okay to just say “hey, I am having a hard time right now” and for someone else to validate how you feel. This is a tough time. Stress about health and worry for loved ones, concerns about personal and global finances, and other greater life concerns that many people are facing may only be part of what is causing issues. There are those who are alone and isolated, those who are overwhelmed by family at home, those missing important life events, and so on. Just because it is not a crisis does not mean it isn’t important and you don’t deserve to have feelings about it. Yeah, maybe someone does have it harder, but that doesn’t mean what you are going through isn’t hard or important. Be well friends.
Self-care is a buzzword flying around to describe things we do for ourselves in order to ensure our well-being in a high stress world. While a bath bomb, an evening with a good book, or splurging on something special might feel great in the moment, they often don’t have lasting effects on our mental health. When a person lives in a state of high stress, anxiety, and/or depression, one or two self-care acts are not going to be enough to make the impact we need to get our heads in the right space to feel better. Effective self-care is a lifestyle change and requires action every single day. Here are a few areas that I suggest incorporating into a daily self-care plan.
Be Nice to Yourself
Do you ever take time out of your day to just give yourself
a pat on the back for the awesome job you did today? We can be our own worst critics and negative
self-talk is not going to make us feel any better. Take some time out of your day to celebrate your
successes! Not every success has to be a
life altering event. Getting out of bed
in the morning is a success when you really struggled to do it. We spend too much time thinking about ways in
which we are not enough. There is a
difference between working to be better and holding unrealistic standards to
are either unachievable or are achievable, but at great cost to your personal
If you want to engage in self-improvement then I encourage
you to make a practice of taking at least 5 minutes of your day and thinking
only about how you have succeeded today.
Reflect on the things you feel good about having done. Nothing is too small. If you can only list a couple of things,
spend that time really digging into how good that experience was for you. It will give your brain a workout an teach it
too look at yourself in a better and more accurate light.
Get Some Sleep
Despite what you might think, the average person needs 7-8
hours of sleep to function his or her best.
Lack of sleep can negatively affect mental health and reduce performance
and reaction time in important tasks.
Think you can sleep 12 hours on Saturday to make up for only getting 4
hours of shut eye through the week? It
doesn’t quite work like that. Sleep debt
is accrued, and it takes time to pay it back.
So how do we deal with the things that are keeping us up?
Here are some tips: If your thoughts are going 100 miles an hour, write them
down on a list that you can look at later.
Engage in guided meditation or progressive muscle relaxation to relax
the body and help focus the mind; there are a lot of free apps you can
use. Use a sleep routine that helps the
brain recognize when it is bedtime.
Unplug: turn off the phones and other devices at a set time to help
prevent staying up later than intended.
A well-rested brain and body can make a huge difference in
your preparedness to take on the day.
Take Care of Your Body
Have you ever noticed when you have been sitting nonstop or
eating nothing but junk food you start feeling bad? The state of our bodies strongly impacts
mental health. Getting some exercise
every day is important to staying mobile and able to do the things you enjoy while
also getting those happy endorphins kicked up a notch. You don’t have to hit the gym if you don’t
have time; go for a walk, do some yoga, or anything that will get you up and
moving throughout the day. The important
part is that you make movement a regular part of your daily routine and do it
even when you don’t feel like it.
Also pay attention to what you put into your body. We have all had to hit drive-thru because we
are short on time, but constant high fat and unhealthy diets can lead to
physical discomfort and unwanted weight gain.
Try to ensure that you are getting some fresh fruits and vegetables
And there you have it friends! If you want to improve your mental health and
generally try to take better care of yourself, self-care needs to be an
intentional and daily practice. Consider
creating a self-care plan that you can post somewhere and will have to look at
every day as a commitment to yourself.
The key to making gains is continuing with the self-care tasks even when
it isn’t convenient or you don’t feel like it, because that is when you need to
do it most.
Stay tuned to www.guidestarcounseling.com
or follow me on FB at Guidestar Counseling or @guidestarcounseling for more