No matter your age, self-care — the process of taking time out of your day to support your physical and mental health — is critical. This is particularly true for veterans, who often experience higher levels of stress than the general population. In this case, it is important for you to establish your home as a safe haven, an area where you can relax and free yourself from stress. Here are some ways you can use your home to improve your mental health.
Make Home a Stress-Free Zone
While you may be able to fit in some “me time” at work, for most people, the most restful space is the home. However, it can often be difficult to relax, even in your favorite room. Distractions from your television, computer, and phone may prevent you from staying disconnected for too long, and an upward trend in people bringing their work home means that people’s professional lives are rarely far from their minds.
One way to help make your home a stress-free zone is to establish a particular room as a safe sanctuary away from all the things that may cause you stress. This space may be a bedroom, den or small spare room. If possible, choose a room with windows that let in plenty of natural light, which helps support good moods. While softer colors are generally considered to be more relaxing, if you feel more positive when you look at bolder shades, feel free to include them in your design. This sanctuary should be a comfortable space where you can relax without being disturbed.
In addition, keep all technology out of your bedroom, particularly an hour or two before you go to sleep. The blue light emitted from most digital devices affects your brainwaves, which in turn can inhibit your ability to fall asleep. Add in elements of aromatherapy with your favorite scent of candle, and keep the lighting soft.
Use Self-Care to Reduce Stress
Self-care refers to basic practices we often take for granted, including getting enough sleep, relaxing throughout the day, and reducing stress in general. For veterans, particularly those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, those little moments of peace throughout the day can be profoundly impactful for mental health. Self-care should be practiced every day, so, the first major challenge when you are developing a self-care routine is setting aside a regular block of time each day to devote to your well-being.
The easiest way to set aside time is to reduce the amount of things occupying your time. For some, this may mean turning down an extra project at work; for other people, it may mean choosing not to stay out with friends past midnight. Take a moment for some self-reflection, and identify what takes up most of your time each day. Then, think about what steps you might be able to take to reduce your workload. Keep in mind that making time for self-care doesn’t mean you have to set aside three hours in the middle of the day — even 15 minutes will do. After all, a quick 5- to 15-minute nap can be one of the best ways to energize yourself halfway through the day. Saying no to a single time-consuming task will allow you to get a jump start on practicing self-care and changing your life.
It is possible to live a life that isn’t filled with stress as a veteran, but it takes some effort. By reducing the amount of stressful activities taking up your time and making your home into a peaceful sanctuary, you will be well on your way toward becoming a self-care expert.
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