Guest Post: Improve Your Mental Health With These Six Self-Care Habits

Hello everybody!! Today's post is a little different than normal, because I am have a guest! Brad Krause, from Self-Caring, reached out to me wanting to write a blog on the importance of self-care and how to incorporate it into everyday daily life. And since I'm really big on truly taking care of ourselves, I thought it would be great for him to share.  

Brad graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling--helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created selfcaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey. Hope you enjoy his article! I'd love to hear any self-care practices you have!

 
Photo Credit:  Unsplash

Photo Credit: Unsplash

 

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” -Eleanor Brownn

The old Sermon on the Mount command goes “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words,  treat others like you wish to be treated. Self-care, a critical part of your mental health and well-being is taking that adage and turning it upside down. Instead of waiting for others to do unto you, you do unto yourself by prioritizing you.

Sounds simple right?

Not so fast. Identifying your own needs and making the time to take care for them is an often-overlooked practice.

Here are six self-care habits that will help you get started.

1. Make Sleep A Priority

Numerous studies have shown that even the most minimal sleep disruptions can result in a significant effect on one’s mental health, so finding ways to improve your sleep is important. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are six key ways to improve your sleep.

1.     Follow a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and stick to a maximum of eight hours of sleep each night.

2.     Watch what you eat and drink. You shouldn’t feel hungry or full at bedtime and be sure to avoid caffeine for several hours before rest.

3.     Create the perfect sleeping environment. Make sure your room is dark, cool and quiet.

4.     Nap wisely. Don’t take a nap longer than 30 minutes and never take a nap in the later part of the day.

5.     Get moving. Exercise improves sleep.

6.     Eliminate worrying. Handle worries long before bedtime.

2. Make Time For Relaxation

With work deadlines, carpool demands and social plans, it’s easy to get caught up in a schedule that doesn’t permit you the proper time to unwind. To protect your mental health, though, it’s important to make time and to employ creative ways to relax; you can manage this in just five minutes.

3.  Learn The Art Of Saying “No”

Are you a people pleaser, always feeling obligated to say “yes” to every request? If so, it’s time to change and there’s several good reasons you’ll want to.

●      People that say no are typically more successful.

●      There’s value in realizing you’re not responsible for someone else’s reaction.

●      It’s important to establish personal boundaries.

4. Get Physical

One of the most tried and true remedies to improve your mental health is introducing yoga or meditation into your regular routine. If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety or in addiction recovery these practices are proven to help. Here are some benefits.

●      Increased self-awareness

●      Increased energy levels

●      Emotional healing

●      Improved sleep

●      Increased strength

●      Reduces fatigue

5. Eliminate The Stress Addiction

According to a survey by NPR and Harvard Health, 63 percent of Americans feel stressed, and of those, a quarter reported feeling a “great deal” of stress. For some, stress even becomes an addiction. If you’re complaining a lot, finding yourself without any free time, dealing with relationship struggles, unhappy, and overworking in the present to payoff for the future these are signs you might be dealing with an addiction to stress. Here are some ways to break the habit:

●      Stop overscheduling

●      Unplug

●      Practice relaxation techniques

●      Surround yourself with positive influences and friends

●      Make your happiness a priority

6. Take Up A New Hobby

One of the unique ways to eliminate stress or replace negative habits such as addiction is to find a passion for something that creates positive experiences in your life. Consider getting creative with one of these hobbies:

●      Playing an instrument

●      Cooking

●      Volunteering

●      Journaling

●      Cooking

●      Woodworking

●      Gardening

●      Photography

●      Coloring

●      Knitting/Sewing/Crochet

It’s important to remember that self-care should not be seen as selfish or self-indulgent. Instead, self-care should be seen as taking ownership for making you the best you can be. You’ll see improvements in self-esteem, relationships, work performance and almost all facets of your life. Start today by setting aside some special “me time.” We’re confident you’ll see improved mental health in no time.

Galentine's Day Brunch

Hello and happy Valentine's Day!!! I hope yours has been off to a good start! I know this post probably would have been more helpful had I posted it sometime last week, or even the week before, but let's be honest; I'm the WORST at thinking ahead for holidays and special occasions. I'm seriously the person who buys shower gifts the day before and then buys the bags or wrapping paper the morning of. Christmas cards? Puhlease. I'm never going to think about doing them in time to send them out before Christmas. Please tell me I'm not the only one???

 

 
Galentine's Day Brunch Ideas
 

BUT, this idea isn't too late, because it's Wednesday and it's totally acceptable to throw a Galentine's Day brunch the weekend after Valentine's Day. Hopefully your gal friends are flexible and able to make plans a few days before.  😳 I was trying to think of what Valentine's Day themed recipe or post I could do and as I was thinking through it, I realized that there is probably a large majority of you who aren't in a relationship. Or maybe just got out of one and the day is really painful. Or maybe one of you is longing for a lifelong companion and has yet to find that person. So instead, I decided to focus this on celebrating with girlfriends. And let's be honest, hanging out with my girlfriends, eating good food, and watching chick flicks is more fun than hanging out with my husband sometimes. 😉

So for all you ladies out there--married, single, dating, "it's complicated", or recently single, this is for you!! I present to you Hearty Orange Raspberry heart waffles and Chocolate Covered Cherry smoothies. I wanted to do a strawberry mint mojito-like drink, but didn't get around to it. I totally think you should make slushy-like drinks with frozen strawberries, champagne (or moscato), fresh mint, and a squeeze of lime juice. Holy moly that would be refreshing. 

 
Spelt orange and raspberry waffles for your galentine's day brunch
 

So these waffles are super hearty, dense, and crispy. I don't like my cookies or my pancakes being crispy, but it's a must for waffles. And these also have a slight hint of orange that makes them refreshing. The trick to getting them to look like a heart is pouring a V into the middle of the waffle iron and giving is a reeeeally deep plunging V-neck. It's okay for your waffles to be indecent--we're going to looks, not decency. 

 
Galentine's day brunch--spelt waffles with orange zest and raspberries
 

For the chocolate covered cherry smoothies, you actually need to start them the night before (or a few hours before). They have soaked oats in them that give them a nice flavor AND make them super thick. I think adding a tablespoon of almond butter would also be a good addition, but you do whatever your heart desires. The day of the party, just throw the ingredients in your blender and then stick in the fridge. Because of the oats and chia seeds, the smoothies hold up really well in the fridge. In fact, mine held up for several days. 

For the movies, I'm giving you a list of several of my favorite chick flicks. You're probably going to judge me for my choices.Please check out this trailer for Pride and Prejudice. The movie is absolutely ridiculous, but I think it's hilarious and super sweet 😍. I know Baby Mama isn't a romantic movie, but it's so funny and great for a girl party. Oooh, and I just thought of She's the Man. Add that to the list FOR SURE!

 
Chick flick ideas for you Galentine's brunch
Galentine's brunch ideas--spelt waffles and chocolate cherry smoothies
 

So there you have it! A delish waffle recipe, decadent smoothie, and stellar movie playlist. I'd love to hear if you end up having a Galentine's Day and what you did for it!!

Hearty orange raspberry spelt flour waffle recipe--vegan if using coconut oil and plant-based milk
Chocolate covered cherry smoothie

Homemade yogurt in the crockpot

Hello!! 🙋 It's been a while since I've been here (I know, story of my life and this blog) and I thought it was about time I pop in to say hello. 

Life has been a little more busy lately with my work schedule picking up (thank the Lord!), tons of family wedding and birthday celebrations, and activities with friends. I'm not overly busy and would like to continue increasing my work hours, but I'm loving all the activities I've been up to lately and cannot complain. With life getting a little busier, I have to be more conscientious about meal planning. It's important to be able to eat what I want when I want it, but in order to do that I have to have a plan so that there IS food around when I want/need it. Flexible meal planning is the name of the game.

 
How to make homemade yogurt in the crockpot
 

One thing I've been doing recently is making my own yogurt for breakfast bowls or snacks. It's not necessary to make you're own, but it's a lot cheaper than store bought and making it myself makes me enjoy it even more. You appreciate the things you put time into. At first, I was super intimidated, but got the hang of it. Now I make it just about every week! Just an FYI, this is a looong process, so I recommend starting it in the early evening so that it can culture overnight (start around 4 pm).

 
How to make homemade yogurt in the crockpot
 

Basically, you heat milk to a certain temperature, cool it to a certain temperature, add in the culture, and then let it sit for 12 hours at a warm temperature. Then you strain it and are left with yummy, homemade yogurt!

 
How to make homemade yogurt in a crockpot
 

A quick word on probiotics. Gut health is definitely a buzz topic right now. While getting my masters, I did research on gut bacteria as it relates to health and I found it absolutely fascinating! Our gut (intestines) contains millions of little bacteria that play a role in a variety of different processes in our body. They have the potential to benefit our bodies through strengthening our immune system, maintaining intestinal tissue health, digesting food in our colon, producing vitamins, killing off harmful bacteria, and FAR more. Researchers are constantly finding out more about the role of certain bacteria in our gut and how they can help or hinder our health and everyday life. With our very stressful lifestyles, lack of proper self-care, lack of adequate nutrition, illness, and use of antibiotics, the types of bacteria in our gut can change and cause various symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, a weekend immune system, etc. This is why eating cultured foods with beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and foods high in fiber (prebiotics--food for the bacteria) is so important. Hello dairy, fermented foods, whole grains, and veggies! It's another reason why it's super important to get a variety of foods in our diet. A diet high in fat and protein can cause harmful bacteria to overgrow. A diet high in refined carbs can cause harmful bacteria to grow. We need all the food components, people: a balance of protein, carbs, and fat from a variety of food sources.

 
How to make homemade yogurt in the crockpot
 

In the past I have had clients ask me about which probiotic brand I recommend and I wasn't able to really give a recommendation. That's why I thought THIS review was so helpful! It separates fact from fiction and then gives recommendations based on the different criteria that actually matter.  I think it does a good job of explaining things in layman's terms, but still uses scientific research to back up their claims. I recommend you check it out!

And now to making your own yogurt. If you've got the time, give it a try and let me know what you think! 

 
How to make homemade yogurt in the crockpot
 
Recipe for homemade yogurt in the crockpot

In case you missed the link above, the probiotic supplement review can be found at  http://www.reviews.com/probiotic-supplement/