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Just like keeping our bodies fit helps us stay strong and fight off disease, keeping our minds fit helps us stave off mental illness and keeps us feeling good. Regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status, mental illness can take a toll on anyone’s life. In fact, The Scientific American reports that mental illness is even more common than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Fortunately, adopting a lifestyle that’s centred on self-care can go a long way to help keep your brain healthy. Here are some tips to get you started.
Stop Overworking Yourself
Job burnout is a common cause of mental distress, resulting in depression, anxiety, and even physical exhaustion. It occurs when we take on too much at work and put excessive pressure on ourselves. Pay attention to the following signs of burnout so you can take action to protect your mental health:
If you suspect you’re suffering from burnout at your job, do something about it immediately! MindTools recommends managing stress at work by performing deep breathing exercises at your desk or keeping a stress diary to help you practice positive thinking. Also, try to set boundaries with your employer and coworkers. For example, stop answering the phone during dinner, and say “no” to work when you’re already overwhelmed.
Reduce Stress at Home
Your home should be a peaceful place of refuge where your mind can get a chance to recover from the challenging tasks you put it through during the day. It can be helpful to design a special space or a room in your home for relaxation. Decorate your space with a few calming objects, like candles, cushions, or flowers. When you only use this space for relaxation, whether that means yoga, deep breathing, or meditation, your body will learn to associate the surroundings with feelings of calm. Learn more about how you can reduce stress in every room of your house in this article by HomeAdvisor.
Sleep Like a Soldier
There's a reason why sleep is so closely linked to mental disorders. Although we don’t understand exactly how it works, sleep seems to play a very important role in how our brain functions during the day. In fact, therapy used to treat insomnia often reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety as well.
Trying to get longer periods of quality sleep each night will likely improve your mood and concentration. If you need help falling asleep at night, try following strategies that soldiers use to fall asleep at odd hours and in unfamiliar places. Practicing meditation, keeping a notepad by the bed, using a lavender spray, sleeping with an eye mask, and turning on a white noise machine have all been mentioned by military veterans as helpful tools to promote sleep.
Eat to Feed Your Brain
Some foods are better for your mental health than others. Did you know that healthy fats support the function and growth of brain cells? Coconut oil, olive oil, and fatty fish are good sources. Also, try to load your diet with antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, like blueberries, to reduce inflammation and prevent damaging free radicals from building up in the brain. At the same time, eliminate sugar from your diet if you want to reduce symptoms of depression and do away with brain fog for good.
Stick to an Exercise Routine
Exercising is a cure-all, improving self-esteem, reducing stress, boosting happiness, and enhancing sleep quality. Just two hours of physical activity each week might be enough to cause significant positive changes to your mental health. For the greatest brain-boosting benefits, stick to team sports, yoga, and aerobic exercises.
Self-care sounds easier than it is. Once you get started, you may find that it feels weird to focus on yourself and your own well-being. You might even feel like you’re wasting time sitting down to meditate, shopping for brain-healthy foods, or going to bed earlier to catch some extra zzz’s. Just stick with it, and you’ll learn to make self-care an integrated part of your everyday routine.
Brad Krause is a self-care advocate and created selfcaring.info to share his knowledge with others. Brad left the corporate world to help promote the simple notion of self-care; doing so through his writing and consulting.