In a world where productivity is king and self-care is seen as a frivolous indulgence, most of us are perpetually stuck in survival mode. Going from problem to problem, deadline to deadline, we seem to be trapped in a reality made up of chronic stress, pressure, and anxiety.
And, not unoften, the daily grind leads us to feel more than just the passing consequences of acute stress.
According to WHO, more than 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide. What’s more, the turbulent events of 2020 caused many people to have anxiety and depression symptoms, trauma or stressor-related symptoms, and increased substance abuse. In fact, a survey conducted in June 2020 showed that as many as 40.9% of correspondents from the US reported symptoms of mental health conditions.
So, how is it possible to survive under such circumstances? And can you go from being just OK to thriving, even under adverse conditions?
The Self-Care Guide to Boosting Wellbeing
One of the most important things we need to remember about mental health is that coping, and ultimately healing, takes more than psychological support.
The more research scientists do on psychological wellbeing, the more apparent it becomes that it’s closely connected to physical health. In fact, not only are people with chronic physical conditions at a higher risk for developing mental health symptoms, but those suffering from poor mental health are at risk of developing physical ailments as well.
With this in mind, it becomes clear that wellbeing requires two courses of action, performed at the same time:
- Asking for support, whether from friends and family, or better yet, a therapist; and,
- Taking excellent care of physical wellbeing through scientifically-backed self-care regimens.
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Throughout the last ten years, a growing amount of research has been done to study the connection between food and mental health. Unsurprisingly, scientists found that predominantly plant-based and fat-rich diets (such as the Mediterranean diet) improved psychological wellbeing.
Moreover, some resources suggest that Western-style foods rich in sugars and carbohydrates often have adverse effects on overall health, including emotional and cognitive processes. This is another excellent reason to look for healthier alternatives.
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One of the first things busy, stressed, and overworked people tend to sacrifice is sleep. And, sure, in small amounts, this doesn’t have to have negative consequences. However, poor sleep hygiene can cause you to experience mood oscillations and cognitive difficulties.
One quick fix to get yourself in a better place would be to fix your sleep schedule. Give yourself enough time to rest, and make sure that you eliminate any sleep-deterring habits from your routine. Along with that, make sure that your bedroom is a sanctuary reserved for rest and self-care.
You’ve almost surely witnessed a health professional calling attention to the importance of physical exercise. And while cardio and strength training bring undisputed benefits to physical health, they’re also a great way to combat depression.
For the best results, the UK’s National Health Service recommends a combination of strength training (at least twice a week) with daily moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming.
In truth, it doesn’t matter what physical activity you choose to go with. It can be anything, like a walk around the block. Just be sure that it makes you feel good and that you do it daily.
Another way to give yourself a chance to survive and thrive is to reconnect with nature. Whether you prefer an afternoon at the park or taking care of your house plants, being around nature has many mental health benefits. In addition to mitigating stress, it also reduces anger and fear and contributes to pleasant emotions. Furthermore, it’s good for your physical health, which means it’s the perfect way to take better care of yourself, especially during stressful periods.
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Last but not least, we need to remember that humans are social beings. This means that we need each other to be at our best. And while some would rather spend a cozy night in than be surrounded by crowds of strangers, we must remember that human connection largely contributes to emotional wellbeing.
If you find that you have a tendency towards isolation, it might not be a bad idea to make reaching out to a friend part of your routine. Make Tuesday night drinks an ongoing thing. Or, if that’s not an option, then even a FaceTime call or online activity might give you a chance to connect. Find a solution that works for you, and keep in mind that nurturing healthy relationships isn’t just something you do for fun. It’s a key ingredient to a healthy and happy lifestyle.
While mental health takes more than adopting a few healthy habits, it’s important to remember that self-care plays a big role in emotional wellbeing. So, instead of making your mind and body fight for limited resources, give yourself a chance to survive and thrive by putting wellbeing high on your priority list. Even if it’s just a few small habit changes, you’ll be sure to notice the positive results.
By Sarah Kaminski
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