Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care by Guest Author Brad Krause

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The Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care
by Brad Krause

Americans who emphasize self-sacrifice and the 50-hour work week at the expense of self-care do so at their own peril. Take a careful look at the social problems caused by chronic stress, broken marriages and substance abuse, all symptoms of an outmoded work ethic that teaches us to equate self-care with self-indulgence. Your mind and your soul need attention more than your bank accounts and investment portfolio do. Making that happen doesn’t mean you have to scrap your career or make wholesale lifestyle changes. However, it does mean finding time for restful, restorative and energizing activities that make all that hard work and dedication worthwhile. Otherwise, you’re not working to live. You’re living to work.
Rest and relaxation
Bringing work stress home with you is one of the worst things for your mental health. But it’s not so easy to leave all that pressure and worry in the office at 5 p.m. and start thinking happy thoughts. It’s human to worry, to stress about what you might have left undone and what awaits tomorrow. That’s why it’s so important that your home is a stress-free space where you can clear your mind.  Add some greenery with a few houseplants, a scented candle or essential oil diffuser, and some soft lighting. 
Get your beauty sleep
Studies have shown that people who don’t take it seriously when they’re told they need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night suffer physically as well as mentally. Insufficient and non-restful sleep makes it hard for your body to do its work at night, which includes bolstering your immune system and recharging your mental batteries.  People who don’t get enough sleep have a difficult time concentrating during the day and with problem-solving, since lack of sleep also impairs your cognitive functioning. But getting the rest you need is about more than getting your beauty sleep. It’s also necessary to just relax, to let your brain unwind and go where it wants.
Hug a tree
It doesn’t matter whether you’re liberal or conservative – being a tree hugger is good for you. Spending time communing with nature is an excellent way to de-stress and renew yourself. Surrounding yourself with natural vegetation and the relaxing sounds of the woods can reduce anxiety and stress and alleviate depression.  Eight hours or more spent in the pressure cooker at work will jack up your blood pressure as well as your cortisol levels, the hormone tied to stress. So, spend some time listening to a babbling brook or the wind in the trees, and relax.
Natural light and clean air
Natural light has a regulatory effect on the brain and your biological clock. Studies have shown that insufficient exposure to natural light has a negative effect on your sleep as well as your sense of mental well-being.  If you live in a northern region where the days are shorter and don’t get a lot of daylight, consider investing in a natural light lamp for home and for the office.
Researchers have found that clean air can affect our cognitive health and happiness. One way to improve the air quality in your home and reduce allergens is to invest in an air purifier. Air purifiers are particularly beneficial for pet owners. 
Disconnect
These days, we’re all accustomed to being connected around the clock to friends, families and total strangers via social media and the internet. While Facebook is a nice way to stay in touch with everyone and Twitter keeps you up to date on the latest news and trends, it’s important to turn off the digital world now and then and allow your overworked mind to reset. If you get work emails and texts via your personal handheld device, try saying “no” to the office by turning it off after 5 p.m. and spending some valuable “you” time. Responsibilities and expectations are always with you. They never seem to relent, and they will  overwhelm you. Learn to tune out the world for a little while each day, and take care of yourself.
Brad is a full-time Life Coach, check out his blog at selfcaring.info.  And take a look at an article I wrote for Brad’s blog titled: Six Ways to Heal From Heartache
Till next time…
Peace & Love 
D’Alene

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