It is important to take care of our mental health through daily and weekly self-care. There are going to be times in life when we feel overwhelmed. Whether it’s impending deadlines, a long to-do list, or tension with a family member or friend, everyone experiences stress. The response to that stress is what impacts our mental health.

Having healthy practices that reduce stress and enhance our mental well-being can be done through self-care. If you are new to adding self-care to your routine, it can be difficult to know where and when to start. So, what is self-care? Self-care refers to activities and practices that you can regularly engage in to reduce stress and maintain your short- and long-term health and well-being. Below are some ways to incorporate self-care into your daily routines.

Practice gratitude.
Research has shown that consciously practicing gratitude can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Remind yourself of everything you’re thankful for rather than focusing on everything that has gone wrong.

Take a deep breath.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, a quick way to alleviate those feelings is by doing breathing exercises.

Write it out.
Writing down why you feel overwhelmed or anxious is another great way to alleviate those feelings.

Ask for help from your social support network.
Your social support network is there for you to lean on if you need to talk things through. Reach out to a friend for a virtual chat or pick up the phone and call a family member.

Practicing self-care strategies can not only provide immediate benefits, but also have a lasting, positive effect on your overall mental well-being. Next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed, try one of the self-care strategies listed above.

Amber Allen, MU Extension Field Specialist in Human Development & Family Science

It has been well-known for some time now that women enjoy longer life spans than men all around the world. Many studies have examined why and whether men can do anything about it. The statistics are related in part to physical and biochemical differences, but controllable factors also play into life expectancy. Men tend to have more unhealthy behaviors than women, smoking and drinking more heavily and overeating more often. Men also tend to avoid doctors more than women, and are, on average, less socially connected.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. Alzheimer’s disease, named for Dr. Alois Alzheimer who first described the disease in 1906, is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and the average Alzheimer’s patient lives four to eight years after diagnosis.

Joplin’s own Mark Liston, PhD, professional counselor with JoMo Counseling and educational psychologist, worked with award-winning psychologist Ed Diener, PhD, to develop a valid scale to assess our well-being.  The Flourishing Now Scale (© 2012 Mark Liston) is used in over 30 states and 8 other countries.  Why so popular?  First, it’s short with only eight questions.  Second, in 2 minutes, you can get a snapshot of your well-being.

The Oxford Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

We are experiencing times of uncertainty and stress, but with self-care – and care for each other – we can get through this stronger than ever. Self-care is an essential component of your well-being and can help you feel at ease and be resilient. Many are finding mindful meditation to be helpful.