Mental Health Self-Care

Save Your Mental Health By Putting Yourself First

Putting yourself first is not selfish. It is responsible. Use the mind, body, spirit trifecta to increase well-being and remind you that you are important. Here are ways to put yourself and your mental health first.

“It’s not selfish, but selfless to be first, to be as good as possible to you, to take care of you, to keep you whole and healthy, that doesn’t mean that you disregard everything and everyone, but you gotta keep your cup full.”

Iyanla Vanzant

Fortunately, the world is waking up to the fact that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. As a result, more and more people are putting up a fight to dismantle stigmas surrounding mental health conditions. Those who suffer from a range of mental health problems now have more opportunities to convey their mental health complications and satisfy their needs to be heard and understood.

Regardless of your mental health condition, it is always imperative to ensure that your mental health remains intact. Your mental health is more important than the test, the interview, the lunch date, the meeting, the family dinner, the soccer game, the recital, and the grocery run. Therefore, it is time to take care of yourself by putting yourself first.

1. You are what you eat.

What we eat does not just affect our physical health; it can also affect our mental health and wellbeing. For example, foods rich in nutrition deliver energy to the brain and trigger the production of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin that make you feel happier and more confident.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

Virginia Woolf

A steady diet of junk food, however, has the opposite effect. Consuming healthy food promotes the production of “good” bacteria, which positively impacts the production of the two said hormones. When you are consuming junk food, you are sending harmful chemicals to the brain that hampers the production of those hormones. Consequently, you will not only experience increased mood fluctuations, but also you will feel as though your body is weak. While these effects may last for only a short while, if you are continuously consuming unhealthy food, you are increasing the likelihood of having dementia or depression in the future, thus affecting your mental health significantly.

Make sure you practice a healthy diet so that your brain is receiving all of the nutrition it requires to work optimally. Additionally, always stay hydrated. Health experts recommend that everyone drinks at least two litres of water daily. Why? Because water flushes out toxins and waste from the body and transports nutrients to where they are needed.  

2. Move out.

Undoubtedly, this idea seems out of the ordinary because moving to another location can be one of the most stressful moments of your life. But, then again, if you reside at a location where the environment is noisy, or you feel like you are not free to do whatever you want without being criticised, that will harm your mental health further.

If this resonates with you, then moving home should be something worth thinking about. There are many ways you can scout for a new property and call it home:

  1. Word of mouth.
  2. Property agents.
  3. Newspapers.
  4. Property listing sites.

Moving home or to a new property may temporarily rattle you and worsen your mental health problems. However, once you have found yourself a pleasant and comfortable environment to live in, it does not take long for you to discover that your mental health problems are slowly fading away.

3. Practice the sweat life.

Performing physical exercise or doing a workout routine a couple of times weekly can remedy your mental health issues in more ways than one. When you are in the middle of an exercise, say running, your focus is working your muscles as much as possible and not on the worries that plague your mind. In fact, many people find that once they begin exercising, their minds are calmer, and they can sleep better in the evening.

Working hard on your body also triggers the release of endorphins into your brain, enabling you to cope with pain or stress better, thus making you happier. Just like practising a steady diet of healthy food does to your body, the chemical reaction will make you feel optimistic. Plus, if you are improving your body, then it is probably that you will feel better about yourself over time as well.

4. Value of companionship.

When you can, spend quality time with your loved ones or close friends. While it definitely helps them to understand the ordeals you are ploughing through, you do not need to feel as though you must talk about them constantly. Just having a good companion can be a great way to disconnect yourself from the overwhelming emotions inside. Also, having someone next to you whom you trust will help you regain your happiness in the long run. They say that “laughter is the best medicine”, and I believe that is true.

“How we need another soul to cling to.”

Sylvia Plath

All that being said, sometimes it is all right to spend some time alone. Being able to remain independent and live life without depending on someone or others is crucial to keep a hold of. At the same time, it is worth reminding yourself that help is never far away when you need it. If you must, have a conversation with one of your close friends. Human beings are not conditioned to live in total isolation. So, it is good to have a balance between time spent with yourself and time spent with others.

Final 2¢: You are important and enough.

You are not selfish for putting yourself and your mental health first. It just shows that you know that if you do not take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others around you. So, always put yourself first because you are important, and this world needs you. So, do whatever is necessary to keep your mind, body, and soul in good shape.

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