Article donated by Bad Krause
Self-care is an important part of mental health. When we fail to be proactive about things like relaxation and sleep, it can manifest in some scary ways. It can lead to “overload burnout” where you push yourself so hard eventually you can’t take anymore so you end up quitting. This will amplify the harmful effects of stress. On the other hand, when you take time to eat right, exercise, get good sleep and relax you give your mind the support it needs to refocus and accomplish the things you want to get done.
Declutter and Clean
Decluttering and cleaning the home is an easy way to press that metaphorical “reset button” so you feel motivated to care for yourself in other ways. When decluttering, try and downsize your belongings and donate items you no longer use to a reputable charity. If you have possessions you don’t want to sell or give away, you can still get them out of your home and put them in an affordable self-storage unit for the time being. After a few months, you can revisit them and decide if you’re ready to let them go or re-incorporate them into your home. You’d be surprised how little it costs to rent a unit. For example, a 10×10 unit in Orange, CA is $79 at Alton Self Storage.
Once the excess items are cleared out, you can concentrate on cleaning. Work from top to bottom from the most used areas (kitchen, bathroom, common areas) to the least (guest rooms, formal sitting room, half-baths). Try using as many natural cleaners as you can. Many store-bought products contain harmful VOCs that contribute to indoor air pollution. However, green-cleaning products such as Seventh Generation Disinfectant spray, which only costs around $2.99, kill cold and flu viruses on hard surfaces and are effective in your home without the harsh chemicals.
Relax after Work
Constant exposure to negative news through 24/7 TV channels, radio, websites and smartphone alerts are adding to the anxiety we feel on top of our worries about work, family, money and more. A big part of the problem is we are constantly aware of our stressors. The conveniences of modern life leave that much time in our schedule to worry. Because of this, you have to be proactive about relaxation– it sounds counterintuitive, sure. After all, there’s nothing that will get your blood pressure up like someone telling you to “relax.”
A good way to implement more relaxation in your life is by switching off from “work mode” as soon as you get home. Put down the smartphone, stow your laptop in your bag, and make the few hours you have between work and bed all about down time. Exercise is probably one of the best ways to release the pent-up stress in your mind and body. It doesn’t have to be strenuous– even a light walk has benefits. If the weather is nice, exercising outdoors gives you the added benefits of sunshine and fresh air after being cooped up all day.
Once you’re done, take a warm shower or bath to release tension in the muscles, so you’ll also feel clean before bed. Instead of zoning out in front of the TV or computer, try an active brain break like reading a book, listening to music or meditating.
Sleep is a huge part of mental health and happiness. When you hit the hay, your brain is still working as it clears waste and rebuilds connections that support learning and memory. To get better rest, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times everyday.
- Avoid stimulants after 2 p.m.
- Avoid blue-light emitting devices.
- Keep your bedroom cool.
- Create a pre-bed ritual.
Taking care of your mental health prevents serious consequences such as burnout. If you need a fresh start as far as self-care goes, a great place to start is decluttering and cleaning your home. Learn to turn off “work mode” as soon as you leave the office and be proactive about relaxing. Finally, sleep supports the health of your brain. Practice good sleep hygiene so you catch those necessary Zzz’s at night.