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The benefits for your mental health

Written by Donna Cameron,

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, most people find it extremely difficult to take any time out for themselves.  When I talk to them about the importance of getting back to nature, such as breathing in some fresh air, taking their shoes off and walking barefoot on the grass or adding more fruits and vegetables into their diet, they look at me and say, “that won’t change anything”.  These strategies are seen as either too simple or they are seen as luxuries that they do not have time for.  “I wish I had the time to go to the beach, to read, to have a hot bath” are said way too often in my therapy room. It makes me wonder, where did we go so wrong?  Why are these simple tasks so difficult to make time for? When are we going to stop and realise that if we don’t get back to basics we will burn out and our bodies and mind will shut down.  Life is passing us by, and our poor body is not detoxing from all the stress we take in because of our work life, our family life and our relationship life.

To thrive in all areas we need to charge our battery.  I often say to clients that we seem to take better care of our phones and computers than we do ourselves. We plug them in at night and allow them time to recharge before we put them to work the following day, and yet we don’t seem to do this for ourselves.   If we don’t charge our phone, it will go flat and then will be useless, so why do we expect more from our mind and body?  Why do we make assumptions that our mind and body will soldier on and on like an energizer bunny, because I can promise you, it will not! 

Burnout occurs when we do not take the time to recharge.  Burnout is not optional!  Burnout is really a simple concept - when we participate in activities such as work, parenting, and relationships, we release energy from our bodies for these activities. If we do not refill this energy then we will run out of it and our body will shut down, or, like our phone, will go flat.  So many of us would have already in our life experienced this feeling of burn out, with symptoms including poor memory, a lack of motivation, inability to make decision and low frustration tolerance.  Far too often these symptoms are ignored because it is not understood why they are occurring. 

Understanding burnout and the need to recharge ourselves can open the door to a healthy mind state and can make us much more productive human beings.  The good news is, burnout prevention and recharging is very simple and we have all the tools already around us.    The lakes, the mountains the parklands, even our own backyards are all open areas filled with nature that can serve as our battery charging ports. 

Simple ways you can get back to basics and help your mental health.

1. Get close to water - This can be anything, a river, a lake, the beach or a waterfall. Watching water or feeling water can help get you into a state of relaxation and is very cleansing to many people.  Sit near it, watch it, put your feet in it or swim in it. 

2. Walk on the grass - Go to a parkland or even out into your own backyard, take off your shoes and walk around or lay on the grass and watch the clouds roll by for a few minutes.  This simple act can help you recharge, refocus, and help you find perspective with your thoughts.

3. Fruits and Vegetables- Eat the rainbow. Providing your body with more fresh fruits and vegetables will help you get the vitamins and minerals that you need to recover and regenerate each cell.

4. Breathe - We might do this all day every day, but we often don’t take the time to stop and take some much-needed deep breaths during the day.  There are even reminders on our smart devises trying to get us to stop and breathe but most of us skip each time they pop up!! Taking a few minutes each day to really focus on your breathing and feel the oxygen go into your lungs is another simple way to help your body recharge and recover from all the demands placed on it daily.

5. Drinking water - Another simple strategy that we “should” be doing but so many of us are not doing well enough.  If we are dehydrated our brain’s ability to function reduces which can cause us stress and frustration in getting our daily tasks successfully completed.

Taking time out for ourselves to refocus and recharge our bodies and our minds, should not be seen as a luxury. It needs to be seen as a necessity and these simple strategies are just a few that can make a huge difference to your mental health.   We only get one body so let’s start looking after it better. Charge it up every day and then you will see more of what it can do!

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