Reading Improves Your Mental Health

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”  Joyce Carol Oates

May 1st to 7th is Mental Health Week here in Canada, not sure that holds for the rest of the world but it doesn’t really matter. Mental health is a subject for all 52 weeks of the year anywhere on the planet. I’m only just realizing how important a well rounded self-care regimen really is to one’s continued mental wellbeing. And seeing as my mental health isn’t always within the optimal range you could be fair to say I’m a slow learner. Good thing it’s never too late to start taking care of yourself.

Three websites listing MANY resources for those who are suffering or who know someone that is:

I wish I could list links for the planet, but hopefully the links above give you an idea of what information and resources you can search out in your own country or region.

But most importantly: Ask for help or seek advice from a professional – give your mental health the attention it needs and deserves.

I can say from personal experience, you won’t regret it. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy gave me important tools to manage my symptoms of depression and anxiety. But in reality it’s of benefit to everyone as we all have to deal with life’s challenges, stresses, and demands. Learn how to manage negative thinking or inaccurate thoughts. Learn the difference between positive thinking and realistic thinking. Make your mental health a priority!

We all need and deserve breaks. But we can’t all jump on a plane or boat and spend a month in Bora Bora. There are numerous ways to relieve stress that won’t put you in the poor house.

One of my favourite ways to relieve stress? Reading. Of course, reading has many benefits, but it’s also a way to reset and recharge. Six minutes of reading can reduce your stress levels by 68%. In the last few months I’ve taken to reading print books again, after having all but given them up. It was a craving really, a desire to hold a print book in my hands. There’s a term for this – slow reading. I guess it’s no surprise that I’m back to reading print (I haven’t given up ebooks!) as I’ve embraced a more mindful life style. Science has proven slow reading reduces stress, increases your ability to concentrate, and improves your sleep.

I’ve just started a wonderful (so far) book: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware! Good thing because this month promises to be a busy one.

When travel journalist Lo Blacklock is invited on a boutique luxury cruise around the Norwegian fjords, it seems like a dream career opportunity.

But the trip takes a nightmarish turn when she wakes in the middle of the night to hear a body being thrown overboard – only to discover that no-one has been reported missing from the boat.

How do you stop a killer, when no-one believes they exist?

Funny how reading about murder allows me to relax! What do you do to relieve stress? And please, offer book recommendations! I’m always in need of a great book to read.

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Five Things I’m Doing To Rejuvenate My Life!

We all need a reboot every once. Traditionally holidays are a time to regroup. Time away to Rest, Relax, Rejuvenate. Those three peaceful R’s. It’s been my experience that vacations, especially family vacations – the ones involving children – do not provide ample opportunity for any of the 3 R’s. Case in point – DisneyWorld. Tons of fun! Recovery time required when it’s done. Oh look, more R’s.

But what if you need more than a couple of weeks away to fix what’s ailing you? When you know there are steps that can be taken to improve your quality of life. Or maintain your sanity. And a juice cleanse it’s going to cut it. It probably won’t hurt, but it’s not the whole answer.

That’s the place I’m in because I’m feeling kind of…old. That’s a very alien feeling for me. I guess what I’m really feeling is tired. Maybe a little worn down. Along with overweight and out of shape.

Clearly, a plan of action was required. But did I attack the problem? No. Tired, remember. So, I did one thing. I got the ball rolling. Now it’s picking up speed. I have momentum.

Five Things I’m Doing To Rejuvenate 

  • Restorative Yoga
  • Solo Holidays
  • Controlling My Self-Talk
  • Changing My Diet
  • Exercise

Restorative Yoga: Remember nap time in Kindergarten? That’s kind of what it is. Only better. It’s about aligning your physical self and your mental self by practicing stillness in supported gentle for extended periods of time. There are a lot of props, blankets, and soft lighting. I’ve begun doing an at home version too.

reclined cobler pose

Solo Holidays: I took my first solo holiday, as in by myself, in the fall. I went to Toronto to visit my sister and her family. For those of you who don’t know I have a special needs daughter. We spend a lot of time together and are incredibly close. I feel guilty when I leave her behind. Because my girl? She would vacation 12 months a year, if she could. But alone time was just what the doctor ordered. I had a wonderful, worry-free time. More of this in my future.

Riverdale, Toronto

Controlling My Self-Talk: My doctor recommended an online course offered by our local university after I mentioned that I was not doing as well as I should be mentally. Turns out there were a numbers of reasons why I was feeling shitty. Because, hello Depression. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is very helpful in terms of practical solutions and steps to overcoming a number of things. Turns out healthy thoughts = healthy feelings.

  • Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps the person to change unhelpful or unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling and behaving.

Changing My Diet: TMI ALERT My gut was very unhappy. I was bloated. Irritable. Imodium dependent. And operating in a fog. I’ve cut out gluten, dairy and eventually plan to cut out sugar. Happy to say I’m feeling much better. Like MUCH better. I don’t know if it’s because I’m eating less, healthier, or differently, and I don’t much care. It’s working. The photo is my version of Danielle Walker‘s Chicken Cobb Salad found in her Against All Grain cookbook.

Chicken Cobb Salad

Exercise: I’m learning to hate it less. Self-talk, remember? And with this goal? It was go big or fail miserably. I needed some serious motivation to commit. To that end, I registered to walk a half-marathon in September. I cannot begin to explain how terrifying it is for me to even type that out in a sentence. My goal? Four hours to walk 21.1 kilometres. Treadmill. Every. Day. Because right now, I can probably do 4 kilometres.

Queen City Half Marathon

What do you do to replenish, relax, and restore your mind and body?

The following is an article written by Will Wheaton, who I adore on The Big Bang Theory. Seven things he did to reboot his life and why he did them. It’s a great read because, among other things, he’s a talented writer

Seven Things I Did To Reboot My Life

 

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