Feeling Good Basics -The First Steps
Good self care is the beginning of taking care of your physical and mental health. Taking care of these areas of your life can help you feel better, and help you have a healthy balanced life. It’s a great place to start!
Eating a reasonably good diet is an important part of feeling good and affects us both physically and emotionally. A sensible eating plan will help you feel generally physically well and feeling good about yourself. Eating regular meals, choosing lean proteins and whole grains, eating fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water help contribute to a healthy mind and body. Limiting sugar, processed and fried food, caffeine and alcohol is also important. It might also be time to have a check up with your doctor. Getting blood work can give you feedback about anything that might be off and adding to how your feeling, for example low iron or B12 can make people feel tired or sluggish.
Alcohol is a depressant and can affect mood in a negative way. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can also be a sign of unhealthy coping skills. We might notice ourselves drinking more when we have upsetting things happening in our lives or when we have upsetting thoughts that we don’t know how to cope with. This can cause a variety of other concerns, fuzzy thinking, stressing organs in our bodies and a variety of other health issues. Addiction issues can limit our creation and exploration of healthy coping skills.
There are a multitude of benefits to expressing your feelings. Expressing our feelings often relieves physical tension, depressive and anxious thoughts and feelings of resentment and anger. There are so many ways to express feelings, talking to friends and family, a therapist, joining a therapy or interest group, just to name a few. Sometimes just expressing your feelings to another person can make them feel more manageable and problems less insurmountable. Expressing your feelings can lead to an increased feeling of contentment.
Another way to express feelings is through creativity. Taking a pottery or painting class, bringing your camera out with you on a walk, playing a musical instrument and writing poetry are just a few examples of creative expression. Anything that triggers emotional thoughts and feelings can be helpful. Many people feel that they process their feelings by writing in a journal. There are methods for structured journaling, or just writing how you feel in response to the days events. A positive addition to journaling can be a focus on gratitude. Try starting each journal entry by focusing on 5 things that you are grateful for.
Regular exercise is fantastic for helping people with intense feelings and mood issues. Exercise can be a variety of activity, for example walking, biking, running or an aerobic class. Ideally it should be an activity that that raises your heart rate, for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week, but any increase in activity from what you’re doing now is a step in the right direction. It can be helpful for motivation to go with a friend, and a great way of coupling 2 things that contribute to good mental health, social connection and exercise.
Good routine and balanced schedule
Having a schedule that feels good and balanced is important. We have so many things to do, different relationships that we need to manage. Our schedules need to match our priorities in our lives. One way of looking at this is to do draw out a pie chart, putting each of the activities in our lives as a separate piece of the pie. For example one slice work, another slice time with family, another slice time alone, another slice exercise and self care, etc. Make each slice size reflect the time you spend on that activity. Take a look at the chart and see if the pie looks like it has the balance that you would like. Is the work slice too large? Is there enough time spent with the people you love, or on activities that are important to you? Now make a pie chart to reflect how you would like your life to look, what life balance would you like to work towards? How have the slices of the pie changed? What kind of changes would you need to make to have this reflect the balance of your life? Are you now paying attention to important relationships? Are you putting in time to do the activities you love to do?
Get good sleep
It is well known that mental health and mood disorders can be affected by a lack of sleep. Most people need between 7 and 8 hours sleep a night. There are several tips that can be helpful for getting a good nights sleep. The room should be cool and dark. Try to shut of all electronic devices with screens computers, phones and televisions, 30 minutes before sleep. Limiting caffeine and exercise in the second half of your day is helpful for most people. Try to have a good bedtime routine that is similar every night. Also, going to bed and getting up at the same time every night, or close to it, can be very helpful for a good nights sleep.
These tips are a great place to start in creating a happy and healthy life.
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