As we celebrate Mental Health Week by the Canadian Mental Health Association, we will discuss five tips for taking care of yourself.
For family caregivers who may be the primary caregiver for a parent, grandparent, child, spouse or any other family member, these tips will be especially handy. Caregivers experience higher levels of stress due to their many responsibilities.
According to Today’s Caregiver, depression and mental health problems are consistently higher among caregivers than among their non-caregiving peers.
In order to reduce stress, you must first be able to recognize it. Make time to be in touch with yourself, whether it be through meditation, journaling, or taking a walk with yourself in nature.
Give yourself time to physically and emotionally recharge your battery, as stress can take a toll that may have long-term consequences if left untreated.
Here are five ways to take care of yourself:
Exercise doesn’t always mean waking up early and going to the gym while consuming a “Rocky-like” diet. If you don’t have the time or energy to go to the gym, commit yourself to just walking outside daily.
Whether it be for 15 minutes or an hour, be okay with taking that time for yourself to unwind and give your body a well-deserved walk. As the weather gets warmer and the days longer, it makes it even more worthwhile to get out and enjoy the warmer temperature while we can.
Taking time to connect with the outdoors, absorb some Vitamin D, and breathe in fresh air, can really reset your mood. A daily walk will help your physical and mental health all in one.
2. Relaxation practices
There are many types of relaxation techniques that can help you manage your stress better. These techniques target your mental health and help to connect your body and mind.
Finding which practice works for you is important, as they can help you cope with your everyday stressors in a more effective and positive way.
Common techniques include deep breathing, mindfulness, massage, yoga, meditation, visualization, and acupuncture.
It is important to note that in order to see the benefits of relaxation techniques, you must actively practice them. It takes time to see results but in the long run, such a practice will be very beneficial for family caregivers experiencing stress.
3. Lighten your load
When possible, look to outsource your list of duties to those around you. Be comfortable delegating responsibilities and really communicating your needs.
If you have children who can help with household chores, enlist their help. It is important to feel like you have a good support system to help keep you at your best. Sometimes helping to lighten the load by even doing one simple task, can make a huge difference for a stressed-out caregiver.
If you really feel your mental health suffering, look to professionals. Giving yourself peace of mind knowing you are in capable hands can go a long way in helping your mental state and relieving the guilt you may feel for not doing it all.
4. Eat your brain foods
You have probably heard the phrase “you are what you eat” before. Although your busy schedule might suggest you just stop at the drive thru on the way home, that meal will not offer you any health benefits physically or mentally.
When taking time for yourself, challenge yourself to eat healthy meals that feed your brain power. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your everyday diet is a great place to start.
People generally resort to eating too much or eating too little when under ample amounts of stress. Eating too much can cause weight gain and health issues, while eating too little does not provide your body the energy you need to keep up.
Diets full of sugar and processed foods can contribute to poor mental health as it causes inflammation in your body and brain. Instead, look to eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes as they offer great brain benefits.
5. Get your beauty sleep
Sleep has an incredible impact on our overall health and wellbeing. As many people can attest, feeling tired and groggy is a sensation that many have experienced, and most times no amount of caffeine can make a difference.
Make time for yourself to recharge your body the best way possible: by getting a good night’s sleep.
Like drinking water and breathing, sleep is an imperative part of being human as we cannot live long without it. Through sleep, our bodies have the ability to repair while allowing our brains the ability to process information.
Poor sleep leads to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as a weakened immune system. So one thing you can do, if nothing else, is to ensure you are on a good sleep schedule. One that lets you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
So there you have it – five tips for giving your mental health a boost. We hope you look to incorporate these tips into your everyday life and start to make them a daily practice.
If you wish to see long-term results and improvements in your mood and mindset, start making changes to your lifestyle today and put yourself first.
If you are not at your best personally, you cannot give others your full love and attention. So take care of yourself and recognize the warning signs when you need to rest and recharge.