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Here Is How Improved Self-Care Can Mean Improved Mental Well-Being
How do you take care of YOU? How much attention do you give your mental wellness? Is it something you figure you either have or you don’t? It turns out there are several aspects of self-care that promote better mental well-being that many of us miss, and you could potentially feel much happier and healthier overall by embracing a few simple practices.
Gut Health Is a Cornerstone
Your digestive tract is a world unto itself. As Healthline explains, there are trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms too tiny to see, making up what is called the gut microbiome. Without a properly balanced gut, you won’t be able to absorb nutrition properly from the food you eat. Gut bacteria levels appear to be directly linked with mental health, and by improving gut health, you can feel happier, keep a more positive outlook, and have a healthier, better functioning brain. You can consume certain kinds of foods to promote better gut health, such as yogurt, kefir, bananas, and miso, or take supplements to meet your needs.
Become familiar with some of the key gut flora to help determine necessary diet changes or whether adding a supplement is right for you. For example, there is a probiotic yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii that works toward helping to protect your intestines against imbalances, and Lactobacillus, which assists digestion and helps support your immune system.
Ensure Proper Nutrition
While you might recognize that good nutrition is key to keeping your body healthy, it might surprise you to learn the role balanced diet has to the importance of self-care and mental health benefits. Eating only when you’re hungry and consuming just enough to satisfy your needs helps keep your energy balanced and your blood sugar level healthy. When your blood sugar and energy levels spike and dip, you tend toward cravings and mood swings and have increased trouble focusing. Your diet should be comprised of foods that help maintain balanced blood sugar.
Sleep and Relaxation
Are you getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night? Many of us associate sleeping with doing nothing, but it’s actually an important activity. Our minds perform some restorative tasks while we sleep, clearing away unnecessary information and repairing our bodies. It appears that without enough slumber, you are at higher risk for stress, anxiety, and depression; your memory can be impaired, and you’re more apt to be cranky. Try setting a bedtime each night, and putting aside caffeinated beverages around mid-afternoon.
Another activity many people discount as unproductive is relaxation. As Livestrong explains, doing something leisurely and recreational actually offers a number of important mental health benefits. Spending time doing pastimes you enjoy can reduce your stress levels, help you feel more in control of your life, reduce your risk of depression, and put you in a better mood.
Set Some Boundaries
Sometimes, in an effort to have people like us or just to avoid conflict, we put up with things we don’t enjoy. If you find yourself doing things like frequently taking on tasks you don’t want to do, listening to conversations you don’t feel comfortable with, or even agreeing with people because it’s easier than disagreeing, you might need to establish better personal boundaries. Changing is difficult, and you might face some resistance, but stay firm and calm. Bear in mind that allowing others to push you into things that you don’t enjoy for the sake of their comfort, and at the expense of your own, is unfair to both you and the other party. You teach them you aren’t worthy of respect and give them a false picture of appropriate behavior. To help you with the process, you might want to review a healthy boundaries worksheet.
Always Remeber to Take Care of YOU
Mental health isn’t just a given. Ensure you have healthy digestion, eat right, get enough sleep, and set boundaries. With these simple actions, you can be happier, healthier, and enjoy the benefits of self-care.