The 3 Best Things for Mental Health Self Care
I like to think that I’m quite self-aware.
I’m in touch with my feelings and emotions, as well as knowing my limits and abilities. Despite this, I can sometimes drop the ball on Mental Health Self Care.
Back in 2017, Madalyn Parker tweeted her CEO’s reply to her email about taking a Mental Health Day. He showed compassion and praised her for reminding everyone of the importance of using Sick Days for Mental Health. The internet blew this up and loads of people started conversations about Mental Health in the Workplace.
I remember hearing the people in my office chatting about it and the majority didn’t agree. They thought it’d be abused by other workers who would just want a day off and it’d cost the business thousands. Obviously, I disagreed. Since coming to terms with my Anxiety and knowing first hand what type of physical and emotional symptoms can arise, I fully support Mental Health days. I think that as an Introvert that suffers with Anxiety, I appreciate the importance of having a day away from people, in my room, working by myself and meditating to reset my Mindspace. (I know that sounds v spiritual, but meditating has literally changed my life).
The past few weeks, I haven’t been looking after myself and I’ve suffered because of it.
I’ve been getting irritable, being negative, losing my patience and my productivity has been scattered. After sitting down and talking about the possible reasons why I’m feeling pent up, stagnant and deflated, I came to the conclusion that I haven’t been looking after myself properly. I’ve let my diet fall flat on it’s ass and I’ve made every excuse under the sun to discard my old exercise routine, as well as not meditating nearly enough as I wanted to.
I’ve listed my Trifecta of Healthy Living below as a guide to help you (& me) stay on top of Mental Health Self Care. So, the three things that usually help me keep Debbie Downer at bay are:
1. Keeping Active
Probably the most important one for me. I’ve struggled with body image issues my whole life and find it super easy to fall back into that self-depreciating state of mind whenever I skip leg day or decide to work over my lunch instead of going for a run.
Exercise helps me zone out by making me focus on the audiobook I’m listening to during my sets or how further my legs have to carry me until the 10k mark! When I’m thinking about those things, I ‘forget’ to think about all the anxiety that usually fills the void in my mind. Not to mention the bomb ass hormones that flood your body after a good workout. There’s no feeling like that PUMPED UP burst of positive energy I get after a good workout. I feel happier, I feel good, I am good.
Being active doesn't mean staying confined to a gym or a treadmill... living a healthy lifestyle can improve your health too! If you're going to the gym, it'll encourage you to make little unconscious choices like taking the stairs instead of the lift or walking instead of getting the bus etc. Small changes make big differences!
2. A Healthy Diet
I know that paired with the above, it seems like I’m on a “Sponsored by slimming world” push but I’m not. It’s the realities of healthy body, healthy mind. If I have a binge at the weekend (like I have been for the past few weeks/months), I tend to feel instant regret. I feel terrible until I forget a little bit, then I binge again to make myself feel better then forget etc. and it goes in a cycle until I weigh myself and gag. I’ve had a strange relationship with food throughout my life from gorging to starvation to purging so it’s a tricky one to master.
For nutrition, I recommend following The Body Coach program. Joe Wicks taught me a lot about sustainable eating plans and fixed that relationship with food. It made me appreciate not only the physical difference (80% of weight loss comes from nutrition!), but also the mental improvements. I felt happier with myself, I had more energy and increased confidence. Plus, who wants acne breakouts for the fleeting joy of eating shit for one day? Me. Sometimes.
This one is fairly new to me but one of the top tips I recommend to anyone who wants to take care of themselves. I’ve been practicing Yoga and Meditation on and off for around two years now and I still love it. Some people call me #basic because I wear a Buddha bracelet, talk about chakras and preach about the importance of meditation but it works for me and I notice a massive difference.
I started mediating using some guided meditation tracks on the Headspace App. You can find some free ones on YouTube and the basics will focus on your breathing then scan down your body to relax you.
The idea is.. with anxiety, I’m always thinking about things that have happened in the past (like an awkward interaction), or things that could happen in the future (like missing a flight). I call it “Time Travelling” and it’s the basis of most of my unhelpful thinking. Mindfulness & Meditation helps bring me back to the present moment and focus on the nano-bits of existence.
If you’re thinking about your breathing and relaxing your eyelids, you’re going to forget about that past/future scenario, right? Right!
If you’ve been feeling a bit down in the dumps or need to take a Self Care Day, I highly recommend focusing on the three points above and assessing which areas you’re falling short with. Sometimes it helps to just take time out and reassess what the root cause of your feelings are and what you can do to fix it.
Now, I’m off to meditate and eat a banana.
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