Self-care is vital for maintaining good mental health, yet it’s often one of the first things we let slip during stressful periods. As stressful thoughts and events become increasingly overwhelming, dedicating more mental energy to them seems like the best way to deal with them. After all, surely giving these things full attention will let you deal with them quicker, right? This strategy may work in the short term, but long term, your mental health will slip, and coping with the stress gets harder, meaning continued self-care is vital.
Finding a creative outlet for stress and anxiety is an excellent way to shift the focus of your thoughts and provides a safe outlet for damaging emotions. Some people find being creative provides the perfect mental holiday from their worries as they focus on the project at hand. Others pour their problems into the work, constructively harnessing negative emotion, like a physical version of talk therapy. Learning and honing a skill boosts confidence, improving mental health.
Working through stresses and problems allows the brain to begin processing any trauma and finally move beyond its influence. Undertaking a course of therapy is an excellent way to do this in a safe environment with a trained professional. At Equinox Therapy, you can choose from traditional therapy and equine therapy for a wide range of issues. Finding the best fit for your needs ensures a higher success rate, so don’t be afraid to try a few options.
Our bodies are designed to move, so we feel physically and mentally unwell when we are primarily sedentary. Finding time to exercise daily has many benefits, including lifting mood and increasing self-confidence. Gentle exercise is as helpful as vigorous exercise, especially if you’re unfit and put off by the thought of getting started. A half-hour walk takes you out of your usual environment, letting your brain think about something else for a change.
Yoga has long been recognized as an excellent aid for improved health as it gives a low-impact, full-body workout. There are various types of yoga aimed at different ability levels; however, they all follow the same basic principles. Therefore, regardless of the class you practice, you’ll benefit from improved flexibility and balance, better breathing, and a clear mind. Two or three sessions a week will improve mental health and teach you skills to deal with stress and anxiety in daily life.
Comfort food is just that, comforting and safe; however, it’s also usually not very healthy. Making improvements to your diet will improve your mental health in many ways. Your thinking will feel clearer, your sleep will improve, your skin will look healthy, and it will aid in achieving a healthy weight. All these things lead to increased confidence, improved mood, and better overall health.
Getting in touch with nature is a balm for the soul, especially if you live in a built-up area, so when possible, find time to be outside, away from buildings and roads. Sitting under a tree in the local park, watching squirrels play, or going for a hike in the countryside is equally valid. Wherever you end up, appreciate your surroundings, with the sky above you and open space around you.
You can also benefit from bringing nature into your home and workplace with potted plants. The filter impurities from the air add interest to the room and have been shown to reduce stress. Many plants are suited to indoor life, including hardy varieties that require little care and are ideal if you’re unsure about plant care. And if you have space outside, gardening increases the return caring for plants provides.
Loneliness is a leading cause of degrading mental health, but it can be challenging to overcome if you suffer from social anxiety. Finding companionship with an animal is a gentle way to overcome loneliness and social anxiety. You have someone to talk to and get mutual affection from.
A pet is good for other aspects of mental health as well. Having someone else to care for helps give a disordered mind an external focus. Dogs require daily exercise, aiding you to get moving, and it is a good ice-breaker when meeting other dog walkers. Watching fish in a tank is beneficial as it lowers your heart rate and encourages relaxation.
If you are in a low period and want to feel better about yourself or wish to deal with daily stress better, undertaking any of the above will help. And as always, if you’re in crisis, reach out to your PCP for additional support.