If You Won’t Take Care of Yourself,
Who Will?

Here you will find some tips to help you take care of your mental health!

Growth in Mental Health Issues

Although you may not see the effects of your mental health externally, it still affects you and the people around you. It’s time to break this vicious cycle of neglect. Mental health is the general well-being of the mind as defined by positive functioning and wellness. According to the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (2007), almost half (45%) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime and one quarter will experience an anxiety condition.

This week the leader of New South Wales has warned this is "the worst situation Australia's been in" since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to its long lasting impact, Australian health authorities are expecting a drastic rise in mental health problems. Now more than ever, practicing self-care is essential when it comes to taking care of our emotional health and well-being, says Christine Carter, PhD, a sociologist and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California in Berkeley. Amidst this situation, how do you find the time to pamper yourself without it being stressful? What do you do? How often? We've listed 5 tips on how to self-care in this difficult times!

Why is it Happening?

COVID-19 has put the general population in Sydney (and globally) under a lot of added stress. This is because it has drastically changed people’s day to day lives in such a short period of time. Things like: wearing masks, quarantining, and socially distancing would have previously been inconceivable pre-pandemic times.

We have all become prone to what has been described as the ‘manifestation of anxiety’ by leading psychologists. You are likely too busy or stressed to maintain good mental health. We have listed some ways you can help alleviate stress and reduce the risk of depression.

5 Tips on How to Self-Care

  • Prioritize Sleep. When it comes to taking care of your health and well-being, sleep is pretty much always part of the answer. Getting enough good-quality sleep keeps your immune system running at its best to fight off infections, like the one caused by the new coronavirus. Indeed: There are parts of the body’s immune response that happen only during sleep. Scientists know sleep is also one of the top ways we can help keep stress in check, as sleep deprivation can make us more sensitive to the effects of stress, ramping up our reactions (or overreactions). Finally, the brain needs sleep to function; without it you'll be less patient and focused, make poor decisions, and be more moody, irritable, and emotional.
  • Know Your Personal Signs of Stress. Sometimes self-care is about knowing when you’re getting overloaded or overwhelmed, and responding with micro habits that prevent all-out burnout, says Cynthia Ackrill, MD, a wellness and leadership coach based in Asheville, North Carolina.
  • Work. It. Out. Spending a lot more time at home does not mean you get to be a couch potato. Staying active not only keeps your body healthy physically (keeping your risk of chronic health issues down and lowering your chances of acute illness, like COVID-19), it also helps up your mood and well-being. Exercise releases endorphins (hormones that make you feel good!), sharpens focus, and aids sleep.
  • Take a Forest Bath. Due to remote work, a lot of our lives have been anchored into our own bedrooms. It has also made it so we feel like we must be on the clock 24/7. So, the best way to take care of ourselves is to go for a walk! The Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” simply means walking in an area with trees and deeply inhaling the air. Trees release certain chemicals, like terpenes, that have been associated with activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which sends your body into “chill out” de-stress mode. The practice is so powerful that forest bathing has been shown to improve mental health by decreasing measures of depression, according to research published in June 2019 in Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine.
  • Keep Stress-Busting Foods on Hand. Yes, you read that correctly. Certain foods can actually have a stress-lowering effect. Warm foods like soup or tea are soothing, and the omega-3s in fatty fish may improve mood. Avocados are packed with vitamins C and B6, which are known to help reduce stress. Dark chocolate is antioxidant-rich, which is great for thwarting stress (do savor in moderation, however, as it’s a calorie-dense food). Other foods that can help include whole-grain carbohydrates, bananas, oranges, water, and leafy greens.
  • Enjoy the Healing Power of Gardening and Flower Arranging. "Self-care comes with the idea of nourishing yourself, on every level. And doing something creative can promote that feeling of well-being," says the productivity expert Tonya Dalton, of Asheville, North Carolina, author of The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less. "That can include flower arranging, because for many people that act of creating something beautiful feels like pressing a reset button. "Plus, she adds, it's an easy project for including other family members, like a spouse or kids. That can give you a sweet burst of social time that ends with a delightful result. 

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