Taking Care of Your Mental Health
Written for Fempreneurs Africa Magazine www.fempreneurs.africa .
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In our everyday interactions with women (and men) as Fempreneurs Africa Magazine, we have come across a disturbingly frequent trend of people not feeling well. All too often, you hear complaints of headaches, high blood pressure, inexplicable fatigue, body aches and stomach upsets. There is simply a rise in ailments and this can be directly attributed to our mental states. We all know the reasons for this mental state, Corona lockdowns, economic recession, lack of social interaction etc. We need to become more aware now of mental health issues than ever before.
The mind is a powerful organ. It defines our entire existence. The saying, “As a man thinketh, so he is” and the other adage, “Thoughts become things” applies only too well. When your mind is not well, everything else will not be well. We can only imagine the spill over effect into other areas of our lives. Divorce rates are sky-rocketing, juvenile delinquency is on the rise, crime rates soaring. All this can be traced to one source, the mental health of all concerned. So let’s discuss a few ways in which we can take care of ourselves.
Note to Readers : If you are suffering from depression or experience suicidal thoughts, self care alone will not work for you. You need professional help and must make it a top priority to reach out for it.
Getting into a good sleeping routine has many health benefits, including lowering your blood pressure, improving mental sharpness and giving you a mood uplift. Make it a habit to be in bed at the same time every day. Sleep in a completely dark room. Use blackout curtains if you have to. Remove electronic devices from the room. Set an alarm to wake up also at the same time every day. Put your alarm at least 3m away from the bed to stop you from continuous snoozing. Give yourself a minimum of 8 hours sleep.
- Eating well
Your body and your brain need the right nutrients to keep functioning well. An unbalanced diet will affect your mental health as it causes chemical imbalances. A balanced diet is made up of foods from the five food groups: starchy carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy and healthy fats. Take vitamin and mineral supplements only if you have to.
Exercise reduces stress and anxiety. Create a routine that works for you. If you have access to a gym and an instructor that’s great. You can try brisk walking, yoga, swimming or zumba. Other options include team sports like tennis, squash, golf. Do what you can within the restrictions of our lockdowns and enjoy the endorphin release (happy hormones).
- Nurture your positive relationships
There are people we love and they contribute positively and meaningfully to our lives. Spend time with them, even if it’s only virtually. Communicate frequently with them and be sure to also deposit into their wellness pool. We need each other more than ever. By the same token, weed out those who consistently feed you with negative emotions.
- Improve your mind
Read a book, watch an inspirational movie, attend an online course. Do something that sharpens your mind. You will feel good and have more to offer the world. And of course, less time to focus on negative things that bring you down.
- Engage with your spiritual side
Whether it’s through prayer or meditation, engage with your spiritual side. Your spiritual side is the one that is disconnected to material and physical things. A balanced life will help you to be happier on the whole, and reduce your chances of suffering from mental health issues.
- Recognize and process your emotions
Are you feeling angry, sad, frustrated, tearful? Or are you feeling happy, connected, loving, content? Or somewhere in between? Why do you feel the way you do? What are your triggers? If your emotions are negative, how can you change them? Have an emotional management plan with a list of activities you can engage in to lift your mood, such as music, stroking a pet, hugging a loved one, taking a walk, writing, drawing etc etc. Consult this list as often as you need to, so that you can manage negative emotions and experience more positive emotions.
- Learn to say NO
Did you know that “NO” is a full sentence? You’re not always obliged to explain why or apologize. We can easily become overwhelmed when we say yes to everyone around us at the expense of our own well-being. Sometimes we just don’t have the time or energy or will to do what we have said yes to. Not living up to your word can cause a lot of mental stress. So learn to say NO if you know you won’t be able to do something. You will respect yourself more and boost your mental health.
Fempreneurs Africa hopes that these pointers will help you feel better and reduce your incidents of physical ailments due to stress.