Self-Care and Its Mental Benefits

Hey guys! Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve been working via email with fellow writer, Brad Krause. Brad approached me with some fabulous tips and advice for dealing with stress, and I’m so excited to share them with you here. Along with Brad’s writing, I’ve also gone in and added my own notes (everything is color-coated, so you don’t get confused). I hope these ideas help you feel inspired to practice some self-care, relax, and look at the big picture of your life.

person on camping hammock tied on tree

Brad: You’re busy. Not only do you have a career, but your spouse works full-time, you’re raising three kids, and there’s the mortgage to think about. Many Americans stay that busy for years – or their whole lives. Society can seem predicated on a go-go-go mentality that values working, even sacrificing your health for it. The reality is that working takes a toll on you. A recent poll found that 79 percent of Americans feel stressed sometimes or frequently throughout the day. That’s why it’s necessary to pause and take care of yourself. Here are some steps to getting started.


Brad: “Self-care” is a newish buzzword for an ancient concept: caring for your needs, physical and mental. Working, making money, and moving up is just part of the grind, but it can also wear on you. A recent study revealed that adults who worked for more than 55 hours per week were at a 13 percent greater risk of having a heart attack than people who worked 35 and 40 hours. Also, 33 percent of the same population pool were more likely to have a stroke. Meanwhile, relaxation has been shown to stave off depression, help you lose weight, sharpen your memory, and lower high blood pressure. Even if you have to work a lot, make sure to cut any of stress out of your life.

Sarah: We’re definitely all guilty of forgetting the big picture in life, and focusing instead on the small, unimportant details. Being a full-time student, I’m guilty of it myself- getting so wrapped up in assignments and deadlines, I forget to focus on my wellness. If we don’t take care of ourselves, the chances are, we simply aren’t going to do our best work.

Getting Enough Sleep

Brad: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a phrase often bandied about, but there’s a grim irony to it. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, for good reason: You can’t live well if you don’t sleep well. From the ages of 18 to 64 – or the bulk of your life – you’re supposed to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night because of the range of health benefits it provides. Sleep lowers inflammation in your cardiovascular system, heals physical ailments, regulates your weight, and makes you happier. People often discover that when they wake up from a restful sleep, most of the worries that hounded them have been soothed away.

Sarah: Getting a tight eight hours of sleep per night is extremely important to me, on both a physical and emotional level. I’ve noticed in my own life that a lot of my friends make excuses for why they’re not getting enough sleep, but the truth is, most of us are just glued to our phones. If possible, try to put your phone down 30-60 minutes before you plan on going to bed. Knitting, reading, sketching, and meditating are some great ways to unwind before bed, and have all been proven to lower stress.

Reducing Stress (Saying No)

Brad: One of the best stress-management strategies is to simply say “no.” That may seem trivial, but the reason to emphasize it is because it’s empowering. Business executives often advise saying “no” because eliminating the proposals or obligations in your day that you don’t need maximizes your efficiency. So whenever you’re overwhelmed, look at your to-do’s, decide which items are most relevant, and move those to the top. Everything else: scrap it and move on.

Sarah: Sometimes, less really is more. We like to pile on as much work as possible to make ourselves feel productive, but the reality is, overworking can burn us down even more quickly. Unless you really feel that an opportunity is going to be beneficial to you and whoever is seeking your help, try not to feel guilty for simply saying no.

Addiction Recovery

Brad: Self-care is important to everyone, but it’s particularly crucial for people recovering from addiction. Many people in recovery feel crushed under anxiety they had pent up while doing drugs. Remember to take care of your mental and physical health. Consider trying yoga, meditation, or a new hobby. Sewing, painting, macrame, gardening, bird-watching – whatever your hobby is, it should be something you love, which helps you focus on the moment. Yoga, too, maintains your metabolism and blood pressure and increases your strength, flexibility, and muscle tone.

The Dalai Lama said that when people are young, we sacrifice our health for money, and when we’re older, we spend our money getting back we health. In between those poles, we lose the present, which is the essence of their lives. All you have is your health, and perhaps the best way to maintain that health is to do the opposite of what modern culture urges. Instead of working non-stop, relax. In all the things you do, find joy. You’ll live longer.

Sarah: Finding a hobby you love is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself. Not only will healthy activities lower your stress level, but you’ll also see your creativity and happiness flourish. Whatever you do, strive to come from a place of gratitude and peace. Like Brad said, we’re in danger if losing the joy of the present moment.

Image via Unsplash

Further reading on Brad: Brad is a self-care advocate and created to share his knowledge with others.

Coming up next: Why I Buy All My Clothes on Amazon

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