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Staying emotionally well

Staying emotionally well

The basics of self-care

Our mental health is heavily impacted by our physical health, and the habits that we develop towards taking care of it. Here are some dos and don’ts for basic self-care:

Diet

Eating right can help maintain the required level of chemicals in our brain, by providing the nutrients needed to produce them.

Physical Activity

Physical activity causes the brain to release endorphins, which help us relieve stress and pain. You can maintain your levels of physical activity by:

  • Playing a sport
  • Having an exercise routine at home
  • Practicing yoga
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Joining a dance class
  • Walking instead of using transportation
  • Going to the gym
  • Walking while you talk on the phone

TIP: Choosing to do your physical activity in the sun, will also give you your daily dose of vitamin D.

Sleep

While we are asleep, our bodies rest and repair muscles but our brain works on maintaining cognitive functions—like memory, learning, problem-solving and focus. It is no surprise that not getting a full night’s sleep affects our emotions, while we are awake.

A healthy sleep schedule includes

Wake up and sleep at the same time
&
Aim for a minimum of 7-9 hours of sleep

Maintain a healthy sleep schedule by avoiding:

Use of electronic devices that have a backlight and activities that stimulate your brain 1 hour before bedtime.

A heavy meal, alcohol, nicotine, sugar and caffeine 2 hours before bedtime.

TIPS IF YOU’RE HAVING TROUBLE SLEEPING:

Increase the amount of physical activity during the day
Use a sleep meditation track to relax while sleeping

Routine

Having a daily routine can offer structure to our lives, which can reduce stress. The routine need not be in the form of a rigid timetable, but can include the following:

  • Eating meals, exercising, and sleeping at the same time everyday
  • Putting time aside to take care of your personal hygiene
  • Balancing work and household chores
  • Setting time aside for breaks and downtime

It can take time to develop a routine that suits your lifestyle—experiment with how you want to use your time and come up with a plan that works for you.

Recreation

Engaging in a hobby can significantly improve mental health. Hobbies are activities that make us feel good. It need not be something we excel at. A hobby isn’t something that we can fail at because its sole purpose is to give us joy.

The hobby could be anything—art, baking, gardening, fitness, music, craft, carpentry, collecting—the possibilities are endless. The benefits of having a hobby are:

  • Added structure to routine
  • An increase in self-confidence
  • A sense of purpose by way of goal setting
  • A sense of accomplishment when a goal is met
  • An outlet for community, if the hobby requires social interaction

If you don’t have a hobby, experiment with what is available around you. Find a hobby that makes you feel good and is something you look forward to doing every day.

Relaxation

We often get so preoccupied with our lives that we forget to take a break. Taking the time out to relax and get some free time for ourselves, is part of taking care of our mental health. One of the most effective ways to do this is, to meditate.

A common misconception is that to meditate, we must have a single point of focus with no other thoughts. However, meditation is an act of paying attention to the present moment, especially our own thoughts, emotions and sensations.

If you find it hard to meditate in the conventional way, you can choose other meditative activities, like:

  • Colouring
  • Doodling
  • Listening to music
  • Dancing
  • Going for a ride/drive
  • Exercising

Any activity that is repetitive and requires your keen attention and focus can help relax your mind, by allowing thoughts and emotions to flow by without grasping our attention.