Life can get stressful in an instant. One minute you are on top of the world, you got your dream job and everything you have worked for is finally falling into place. But all of a sudden, you lose your job and now you are struggling to make ends meet.
This might not be your case but one thing for sure is that we have all experienced stress at one point in our lives. Feeling anxious, scared, or helpless is understandable especially when you are going through an unprecedented time in your life. But whatever situation you are in and wherever you are, you have the power to look after your mental health and well-being.
There are lots of ways to find low- or no-cost mental health care. Here are five affordable ways to help you cope and take care of your mental health:
In most African households, we were not raised to wear our hearts on our sleeves, we don’t open up about a lot of things but believe it or not, talking to someone you trust may be key to lifting that weight off your shoulders. I admit that sometimes the very emotions you’re dealing with like guilt over something you did or shame about how you think you’re perceived can feel so overwhelming that you can’t get the motivation to talk it out.
Regardless of the reason you might keep it in, talking has powerful psychological benefits that might not be obvious. According to WHO, you may feel better if you are able to openly share what you are going through with someone who cares about you. Better health, also notes that talking to someone about what’s been eating you up can help you, see the situation clearly, sort through the problem, and release built-up tension- this can help you to gain new insight into the situation that is causing the problem, identify options or solutions you hadn’t thought of and realise you are not alone.
You already know that exercise is good for your body. But did you know it can also boost your mood, improve your sleep, and help you deal with depression, anxiety, stress, and more?
According to WHO, taking care of your physical health helps improve your mental health and well-being. Running a marathon or lifting weights might not sound like the type of workout you are looking for. The key is to find the exercise or workout that fits you or that’s right for you. Is it going for walks or doing yoga?
Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and improves cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. According to healthdirect, exercise causes your brain to release 'feel good' chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that help improve your mood. It also improves your fitness, which can help lift your mood. Doing physical activity can also distract you from negative thought patterns.
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It's very likely that from the time of your birth, you were told to finish your vegetables or to eat a particular food because it was good for you. We have grown up being told time and again about how eating well helps us stay healthy and physically fit. However, we were not always told about how good nutrition affects our mental health as well.
Did you know what we eat affects our moods? This connection inspired a whole new area of brain study called Nutritional psychiatry. What you eat can make or break you. Your productivity, work, and even mental state. Sutter health, says that a healthy well balanced diet can help you feel more alert and think clearly. Additionally, it can improve concentration and your attention span. Likewise, an inadequate diet can lead to fatigue and bad decision-making.
A poor diet can aggravate and may even lead to stress and depression. To boost your mood, try these mood boosters, Omega 3 fatty acids, Magnesium, Folate, Vitamin C, etc. Basically foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lamb, and fish, can contribute to mental health.
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When I am stressed I have constant headaches and trouble sleeping. When rest is what’s recommended for me to solve my problem, it's hard to actually see it through because while you are laying on that bed, your mind is racing, I am thinking of the million and one things I should be doing but no! I am in bed trying to relax and failing.
We can’t always try to avoid stress, but we can learn how to manage stress. Practising relaxation is key to managing stress. When we chill or relax, our body receives more blood which gives us more energy. It increases calmness and helps clear the mind, which promotes positive thinking, memory, concentration, and decision-making.
Our heart rate, blood pressure, and tension are all slowed down by relaxation. Additionally, it improves digestion because when we are relaxed, we absorb vital nutrients more effectively, which helps us fight off disease and infection.
To relax, you can focus on your breathing or take a gentle walk being mindful of your surroundings, and keep your focus on the plants, the trees, the sunshine, and the clouds.
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Technology is all around us, in our homes, offices, bedrooms, and even in our pockets and pursues. While electronics are beneficial for instance, you can learn new skills, connect with people and discover new interests.
However, too much screen time can carry some consequences from sleep disruption to decreased physical activity. Setting your phone aside to do an activity or go outside can be a mood booster. Decreasing screen time may increase focus. In addition, Jai Medical Systems states that reducing screen time can also lower stress.
Screens increase stress on our central nervous systems and increase cortisol, the stress hormone. Taking time off your screens can balance these chemicals in our bodies resulting in a more stable mood, and less anxiety and depression.
Reducing screen time will not be easy especially if you don’t have any alternative activities in mind to fill in that void. You could read a physical book, spend time with family, pick up a new hobby, or meet up with friends you haven’t seen in ages.
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Asking for assistance is a sign of strength, not weakness. When given the right care, people can overcome their addictions and mental illnesses and enjoy fulfilling lives. Whether you are a student or a working adult, your wellness matters, check with your university or your workplace to see if they have a free or affordable wellness plan set in place. In addition, you can consider religious organisations you are a member of.
I think it's now evident that you don’t need to go for pricey retreats to take care of your mental wellness. Every activity you do can benefit your mental as well as physical health.