By Jan Hittelman

As a result of these challenging economic times, many people are cutting costs by doing things that they previously paid others to do. Whether it’s mowing your lawn, cleaning your car, or cooking more, everyone is trying to strike a new balance. More concerning, however, is trying to do without necessities like medical care, prescribed medications, and psychotherapy in order to make ends meet.

There are some basic self-care approaches to mental health that would benefit all of us and may even reduce the eventual need for formal counseling. Five such strategies are listed below:
• Relaxation: Learning and practicing simple relaxation techniques that are beneficial on both an emotional and physiological level. These can be as simple as: breathing slowly and deeply, learning meditation and/or yoga techniques, simply taking the time to enjoy nature, reading a book, going for a walk, etc. What’s most important is making the time to relax on a regular basis and working it into your routine.
• Healthy Thinking: Unfortunately, most of us are quite negativistic in our thinking. Because our emotional experiences are a function in large part of how we interpret the world around us, shifting to healthier and more positive thoughts can profoundly impact our mood.
• Stress Reduction: We’re all under a lot of stress, maybe now more than ever. The first two strategies listed above can significantly reduce our stress level. The simple act of taking a purposeful approach and making a conscious effort to reduce our subjective experience of stress is a great start.
• Success Experiences: We derive a lot of our positive self-esteem through success experiences. Creating simple achievable goals and letting ourselves acknowledge those successes or even efforts towards success, foster a healthy sense of self.
• Do Onto Others: This age old idea of treating others, as we would like to be treated is actually quite powerful and ultimately very self-nurturing. The act of treating others with compassion, caring and respect feels good to do and increases the likelihood that it will be returned to us.

Empower yourself and those you love by implementing the above strategies. You will be glad that you did.