Brad Krause: The many mental health benefits that self-care can provide.

Guest blogger Brad Krause shares some of his favourite self-care tips that could help you in your journey to better mental health.

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When it comes to mental health, few things are as important as cutting out stress and anxiety. For many Americans, however, this can prove tricky to do. We work long hours, we have responsibilities, and we read about distressing things going on in the world every day. Knowing how to take care of your body and mind will help you relax, feel happier, and enjoy the little things. But where do you start?

The key is to make some time for yourself. That can be difficult to do if you work long hours or have a family who needs your attention, but it’s imperative if you want to boost your mental health and fight off stress, anxiety, and depression. Even if it’s only for 15 or 20 minutes a day, find something you enjoy doing and spend time on it. Whether it’s a hobby, an exercise routine, or spending time with your family, focusing on your needs will help you feel better. Here are a few more tips on how to take care of your mental health and what the benefits are.

 

Go to Sleep!

Getting good sleep is absolutely essential if you want to maintain positive mental health, and the bonus is that it can help your physical health as well. Adequate rest can boost your energy, help you focus, and improve memory function throughout the day. Not only that, it’s the best way to feel better overall.

"Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep. If you sleep better, you can certainly live better. It’s pretty clear,” says Dr Raymonde Jean, director of sleep medicine at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York.

 

Take a Time-Out

Whether you need to get away from the grind for a couple of days or just have some quiet time for half an hour, take a time-out when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed. Work and home responsibilities can be extremely stressful, and when you take too much onto your shoulders, you’ll burn out really quickly. Take a few minutes to relax, or plan a weekend getaway so you can rejuvenate yourself and come back ready to tackle new challenges.

 

Avoid Self-Medicating

Arguably one of the worst - and most popular - ways to reduce stress and anxiety is to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. While many people don’t see the harm in grabbing a few beers with their friends to let off some steam on a Friday night, it can lead to a dangerous path that has you self-medicating with substances every time you feel stressed. Instead, practice a hobby that you enjoy, or learn to meditate so you can practice mindfulness when things get heavy.

 

Get Outside

Spending time in nature doing something enjoyable can have many benefits for your health, including lowering blood pressure, improving your memory function, and boosting your mood, meaning it has a positive effect on depression and other mood disorders. If you can get active while you’re outdoors, all the better. Start a herb garden, or go for a bike ride with your kids. Even just half an hour under the sun can help you feel better.

Taking good care of your mental health means focusing on your needs, so don’t be afraid to let your friends and family know what they can do to help out. Keep communication open and get them involved in the activities that help you feel better so they can take advantage of the benefits, as well.