By Cheryl Conklin from wellnesscentral.info
If thinking about self-care makes you picture countless spa days and face masks, you could be thinking approaching self-care from the wrong angle. Self-care is more than that, and it’s also much easier. In fact, adding smaller self-care steps can protect your mental health. So, instead of scheduling a spa day, consider adding these self-care measures to your regular routine.
Addictions and mental health often go hand-in-hand. When stress begins to overwhelm your life, it can be all too easy to turn to unhealthy crutches to soothe it. Addiction to alcohol, shopping, and smoking might make your stress better for a few moments, but these fixes often leave you feeling worse than you did before. This is why it’s important to use self-care to manage your stress levels and manage these addictions before they take over more of your life.
If you think you may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, you should research professional treatment options. However, if smoking is your vice, know that you have the power to stop. It’s not going to be easy, and it may not happen overnight, but you can make it happen if you take the right approach. Let your friends and family members know you need to quit so they can avoid smoking around you and help keep you accountable. Since the smell of smoke can be a trigger for falling back into old habits, you may also want to use an effective air purifier at home to cut down on odors and reduce the chances of you using tobacco products again.
Indulging in a little extra self-care can make quitting bad habits more bearable. Plus, that essential self-care is guaranteed to boost your physical and mental health. Meditation can be a very effective method for reducing emotional tension and discomfort, so consider replacing your usual morning cigarette with a few minutes of mindfulness. Complement those relaxing, stress-reducing meditation sessions with mood-boosting healthy foods. Snacking on an English muffin when you feel down or anxious is an easy self-care step anyone can do; plus, by adding a little protein, you can give your body a major boost in energy levels as well. That energy is important because you need it to get the regular exercise your brain needs to regulate your emotions as well. Exercise can do more than just tone your muscles — it can also produce mood-boosting endorphins. Also known as a “runner’s high,” you can get this natural mental health lift by engaging in vigorous exercise a few times each week.
If you can wake up and get in a morning workout, you are doing so much more than boosting your mental health. You could also be working to improve your nightly sleep quality, which is another crucial self-care step for sustained mental health. Some people find that exercising earlier in the day helps them to sleep better at night. Engaging in an intense cardio session at night to help create those endorphins may actually raise your body temperature and encourage your brain to stay awake. So, if you find yourself having trouble sleeping, try burning calories in the morning hours and opting for a more relaxing bedtime ritual instead.
Also, practice relaxing habits that help power down your body and help quiet your mind as well, such as turning off screens and electronics. Switching those screens off will also help keep your home darker, which can be more conducive to better sleep. Allowing yourself the time for seven to eight hours of restful sleep a night is the most basic, yet also most important, self-care step you can take to reduce feelings of anxiety and to manage your overall mental well-being.
Chances are, you need to change the way you think about self-care. You don’t need expensive treatments or beauty products to reduce stress and take better care of your health. All you really need are some basic self-care habits, such as exercising to reduce stress and managing your sleep to manage your mental health. Those are the self-care habits that really count, and they can make a major difference in your quality of life.
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