If the term “self-care” sounds a big indulgent, that’s understandable. For many, it conjures up images of people pampering themselves beyond all reason while other people in their lives work their fingers to the bone. Self-care has a different, more realistic meaning, though: if you don’t take care of your own needs, you won’t be able to make a difference in anyone else’s life, either. Here are a few thoughts about how taking care of yourself can improve your mental health and make you an overall better person.
According to statistics, 35 percent of Americans get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night. If you have kids or are over-committed, you likely fit into this category. Getting enough quality sleep is one of the best things you can do to improve your life, no matter how busy you think you are. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This will get your body in a set pattern that will give you a better quality of sleep. You should also avoid blue light from digital screens for a couple of hours before bed, avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day, and optimize your bedroom environment for the perfect temperature, sound and amount of light that keep you sleeping the best. You will never have enough time to do everything you want, so take the time to sleep enough to keep you productive and effective.
Relax and Recharge
You need some time in your life when you aren’t doing anything at all. You need time to unwind and just be in the moment without stressing about what’s next. Build some time into your schedule each week for relaxation, and don’t feel guilty about it. A little time alone will do wonders for your soul. And by the way, this means no electronics too - take a break!
Just Say No
A huge part of self-care is learning to say no to activities that don’t fit your goals and will leave you running ragged. Determine your priorities, and then learn to gently say “no” to whatever doesn’t fit into your priority list. It may be a perfectly good activity or cause that someone wants you to help with, but if you say yes, you’ll be saying no to something else - your family, your rest, your priorities, etc. Saying no will also help reduce your stress levels because you’ll have less to keep up with. “No” is a complete sentence, so don’t be afraid to use it.
If you are in addiction recovery, your mental health is supremely important. You want to stay strong mentally at all times, because if you let your guard down, you could slip right back into old habits. All of the methods above are important for you to practice so you can keep your mental health at the forefront. An additional idea is to pick up a new hobby so you can have some free time focused on something you genuinely love to do. This will give your mind and body a break while also keeping you busy, which is a good thing for any addict. Meditation and yoga are also fantastic tools for re-centering you and keeping you calm and physically fit as you work through your recovery program.
If you truly want to make a difference in other people’s lives, you have to make a difference in your own life first. Take care of yourself and give yourself room to breathe, and you’ll notice a marked difference in your energy and outlook on life. Now, go conquer the world!
Author: Brad Kraus
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