Why Self-Care Is Important To Mental Health

Self-care may seem like a luxury but in fact, it’s important for everyone to take time out for self-care. Self-care or taking a few minutes for ourselves is critical to our mental health. Our mind and body need a break, a chance to unwind, to refocus and there are many ways to unwind. 

I do many things for self-care depending on how much time I have. If I have 30 minutes I may take a hot aromatherapy bath, give myself a manicure, if I’m crunched for time a hot foot soak is very relaxing. Simple ways are enjoying a candle for a few minutes, meditating, watching the birds, or just taking a walk around my backyard to clear my head. 

Men need self-care just as much as women, the manner in which you find a moment of joy may look different. A good foot soak is always a great way to relax, meditation, taking a 15-minute power nap, hot shave, scalp massage, hot bath, or even stretching exercises and aromatherapy is can be relaxing. 

3 simple strategies to help you focus and de-stress

Does it seem like you can’t complete even the simplest task without being distracted? Texts, emails, social media alerts, noisy colleagues, ringing phones… Friends, you are not alone.

Distracted thinking — aka daydreaming or mind-wandering — affects everyone. In fact, researchers have found that people think about something other than what they’re actually doing — or supposed to be doing — almost half of the time. Turns out that a wandering, easily distracted mind is actually the default mode for the human brain.

Succumbing to distraction over and over, though, can build stress, foster unhappiness, and even lead to depression. So if you’re one of the many looking to figure out how to handle distractions and improve your ability to focus, take comfort in the fact that research has shown a way forward.

One word: mindfulness.

Mindfulness means maintaining moment-to-moment awareness of where you are and what you’re doing. At work, for instance, it means you’re focused on the project in front of you; walking with a friend, it gives you the ability to really focus on your surroundings and your conversation. Scientists have shown that you can actually train your brain to become more mindful. Like anything else, it just takes practice.

Ready to get started? These three practices have all proven useful in building mindfulness.

1. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)

MBSR training has become a recognized way to help people learn to avoid distractions and increase their attention to the task in front of them. It can also help improve memory, motivation, and autonomy — all things likely to make you (and your boss) happier. MBSR programs typically include breathing, stretching, and awareness exercises.

2. Meditation

Meditation aims to increase your awareness of the present moment and help you develop a gentle, accepting attitude toward yourself. Regular meditation practice has been shown to actually alter the brain — in a good way. One study showed that the area of the brain dedicated to regulating your emotions was significantly larger in meditators. In other words, in a world determined to trip you up with distractions and unpleasant surprises, meditation can help you stay more positive and more focused.

3. Mindful movement

The hallmarks of mindful movement, or yoga — structured breathing, controlled movement, mental focus — make it sound like the perfect antidote to stress and distracted thinking, but does science back that up? Yes, over and over again. Many studies have found that, after beginning a yoga program, people feel less stressed, more focused, even more optimistic. In fact, yoga’s been found to be even more beneficial to people who’re highly stressed.

In today’s so-called attention economy, the world is actually being designed to distract you. Everybody wants your attention, and they want it right now. But you can take back control of your focus, shed that stress, and wake up happier to meet your day.

Ready to commit to becoming more mindful? Great, go for it!

Melinda

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