Self-Care for Men

For so long, there has been a stigma against men having emotions and how they process them. Just as women take time (at least they should) for self-care, men should too! It can help improve your mental health and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Self-care is simply allocating time daily and weekly to pause everything else in your life and focus solely on yourself. 

There are a few different areas of self-care. Below are my favorite things to do to help manage my emotions and allocate time to myself. They can help you mentally and physically!

  • Relaxation
    • Light candles
    • Do your skincare routine or facemasks
    • Practice self reflection
    • Process your emotions
    • Listen to music 
  • Living space
    • Keep your place clean and organized
    • Add comfortable things to your space such as blankets and candles
  • Physical
    • Lifting 
    • Running
    • Meditation
    • Yoga
    • Drink water
    • Add fruits and vegetables to your everyday diet
  • Maintaining a healthy work/life balance
    • Take mental health days when needed
    • Set clear boundaries- when you are off the clock, focus on your personal life
    • Take your work breaks- don’t work through them
    • Use your work breaks- get up and move around, meditate, reflect on how your day is going and what you could change or improve

Men are oftentimes put down for not being “masculine” enough which causes them to put off self care. Try doing the things listed above as opposed to playing video games, turning on your tv, or using drugs/alcohol to (not really) deal with your emotions. Men and women deserve to take time for self-care.

Flaws in the Healthcare System

Insurance providers, not doctors, are deciding where and what kind of procedures their patients can get. Insurance companies choose who can provide care to you, regardless of what is actually best for the patient. I have seen this in both my professional life as well as my personal life.

Insurance companies are in it for the money, not the people. My insurance company works with HealthPartners and I recently went in to see the doctor. They referred me to a specialist and told me they would be able to help and give me some answers. Once I got to my second doctor’s appointment, the first specialist, I was only there for 30 minutes- 15 of which was spent in the waiting room. She only took blood tests, which they had already done at my first appointment. She said she did not have the equipment needed for the tests they wanted to run, so she then referred me to two other specialists and told me to make appointments with them. 

I got to my third appointment, the second specialist, and again I was only there for about 30 minutes- half of that was waiting time. They weren’t able to give me any answers from the previous appointment, where I had blood tests taken, but they ran the tests they initially wanted me to do. They still were not very helpful, as they were extremely vague. They then referred me to a third specialist. I called to make an appointment for this doctor and they said they had to send me an online form to fill out before they could make an appointment for me. A week later I called again since I still had not received the forms and they were finally able to get me an appointment- but not until late January.

The whole point of this blog is to show that insurance companies and some medical facilities, such as HealthPartners, send their patients around to make more money, which makes it more difficult than it needs to be for patients to get the care they need to begin with. As professionals, they should know which specialists could help and they should send their patients to them to begin with, not make them see multiple in between. The flaws in the healthcare system give more money and more power to the insurance companies. They are in it for the money, not the patients.

The Easiest Thanksgiving Appetizer to Bring This Year

In my family, my grandparents host Thanksgiving and provide the main courses. We are all asked to bring a side or an appetizer to contribute. This year I was asked to bring an appetizer- specifically “some kind of dip.” I saw the easiest recipe and I had to share. I will be making a spinach and artichoke bread bowl. 

Ingredients:

Garlic & herb bread loaf (unsliced) 

Spinach dip (I will use store bought)

Shredded Cheese (I will use colby jack and parmesan cheese)

Directions:

Cut the loaf into a bread bowl

Add the spinach dip and spread evenly 

Sprinkle cheese on top

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes

Serve with bread pieces and/or chips!

Cozy Winter Essentials

Since we recently had our first snowfall, I thought now would be a good time to talk about winter essentials. Every year I go shopping to get these items to help make it through the winter. Here are some of my favorite Amazon cozy winter essentials:

A lot of these were mentioned in my Hygge blog post. They help you create a cozy, comfortable environment that gets you through the winter!

Hygge

Hygge is a Danish word defined as a quality of coziness and comfortableness that creates feelings of contentment or well-being. It can be an atmosphere that feels warm and cozy and makes you feel at peace. It is pronounced “hue-gah” or “hoo-guh.”

Denmark gets dark for up to 17 hours a day during winter and their average temperature is only 32 degrees. It is safe to say they know what they are doing when getting through winters. Hygge can help with seasonal depression and help you find more joy in the colder months.

Here are some ways you can live a Hygge lifestyle this winter:

Make your home cozy by adding soft lighting, such as fairy lights or string lights.

Add candles for light and scent.

Whatever kind of fireplace you have, use it! If you don’t have one, you can buy a small electric one.

Blankets are essential for warmth and coziness. Get different textured blankets and have them everywhere.

Make soup, pastas, and warm foods. Use your crockpot to make your home smell good while making an easy meal.

Try baking! 

Drink plenty of warm beverages such as coffee, tea, mulled wine, spiced apple cider, etc. 

Add plants to your living space to bring the outdoors in.

Wear comfy but cute clothes- get a matching pajama set, sweatsuit, etc. and fuzzy socks.

Practice self care- mediate, do facemasks, take a bath.

Find new hobbies such as reading, painting, writing, journaling, crafting, etc.

Have movie nights and watch new shows.

Read those books you keep saying you want to read.

Doing these, especially when it’s raining or snowing, will help you release some of the negative emotions you have towards winter. This gives you a sense of comfortability. Practicing Hygge will help you get through the winter and help you feel more at peace.

How to be Thankful

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it is the perfect time to recognize the things you are thankful for and learn how to be thankful. Here are some ways I like to do this:

  • Every day, I think about three things I am thankful for. Sometimes they are the same three things, other days they vary.
  • Say thank you to others as often as you can. If someone does something for you and you appreciate it, tell them.
  • Write down what you are most thankful for in your life and keep it as a reminder. Some people like to keep a gratitude journal for this.
  • Look for the positives in every situation. If you are going through a hard time, think about the good things in your life. For example, if you are overwhelmed at work, think about how lucky you are to have a job that people trust you with responsibilities at. 
  • Thank yourself. You have gone through so much and you continue to keep going. Thank yourself for getting you through your hard times and growing into the person you want to be.

Although Thanksgiving is a good time to be thankful, you should practice these habits all year. This will help you become more positive and give you a better outlook on your life. Be thankful and recognize who you are thankful for- then tell them! 

Benefits of Spices

There are many health benefits of including spices and herbs in your diet. In my last blog, How to Prepare Yourself for Winter, I explained that it is important to include these in your diet especially in the winter. Here are some of my favorites and their benefits:

  • Cinnamon- lowers blood sugar levels and helps in preventing diabetes
  • Sage- improves brain function and memory
  • Chili powder- helps regulate metabolism
  • Parsley- contains antioxidants that support bone and immune health
  • Cumin- helps manage weight, stress and cholesterol 
  • Peppermint- relieves IBS symptoms and helps with nausea
  • Cayenne Pepper- some studies show it contains anti-cancer properties
  • Turmeric- anti-inflammatory, boosts immune system, and helps fight infections
  • Ginger- contains anti-inflammatory properties
  • Rosemary- helps prevent allergies and nasal congestion
  • Garlic- improves heart health and fights colds
  • Oregano- contains antioxidants, boosts immune system, reduces inflammation, regulates blood sugar, improves insulin resistance, helps fight cancer

These spices and herbs can help you maintain your health and improve how you feel this winter. The antioxidants they contain will help prevent you from getting sick as well.

How to Prepare Yourself for Winter

Although many of us do not want to admit it, winter is coming. That means colder weather, snow, and long, dark days. Many people experience a seasonal depression during the winter, so here are some ways to prepare yourself for winter to help you try and avoid that seasonal depression: 

  • Keep drinking water– even though warm drinks like coffee or hot chocolate sound better, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking water.
  • Eat well– try adding extra fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  • Boost your immune system by taking vitamins– especially Vitamin D. If you already take Vitamin D supplements, you may want to look into increasing your intake.
  • Keep your body moving– working out and staying active is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer.
  • Keep your skin hydrated– drinking water will help but you may want to look into a topical supplement to help with your skin’s hydration.
  • Add spices to your food– they contain antioxidants and have antibacterial properties that can help prevent you from getting sick.
  • Manage your stress levels– with seasonal depression it is important to take care of your mental health. 

Mental and physical health go hand in hand. When you take care of yourself physically, it helps you feel better mentally too. With winter quickly approaching, it is important to practice these healthy habits. 

Is It Okay to Break Up With Someone Who Has a Mental Illness?

Breakups are difficult for everyone involved. Not only is it hard being broken up with, it is hard breaking up with someone. Even making the decision whether or not to stay with someone is hard. Now, if you mix in a mental illness or even two, it makes it that much harder. You might feel guilty for breaking up with someone who is suffering from a mental illness or think that leaving them will make it worse. 

I do not believe that breaking up with someone strictly because of a mental illness is a good reason, as many people are able to live relatively normal lives and have good relationships while also dealing with a mental illness. When the symptoms of their mental illness become an issue is when it makes your everyday life difficult or if you feel unsafe. Some red flags to look out for are:

  • Any form of violence (verbal, physical, or sexual)
  • They have an inability to control their emotions or have a drastic change in emotion
  • Lack of empathy or remorse
  • Narcissistic behaviors (an excessive need for admiration, manipulation, selfishness, patronizing, and demanding)

Regardless of their mental illness, none of these red flags should be ignored. Your safety should always be put first. If you are experiencing any of these red flags, are ultimately unhappy with being with them, or their mental health is affecting your mental health, it is time to consider ending things. No one says that by ending things you will never be together again. Maybe giving them time to work on themselves or work through their own mental illness is what they need to work with you in the long run.

How you handle a breakup with someone with a mental illness is relatively the same as breaking up with someone who does not have a mental illness. There are a few things that you may want to consider when breaking up with them:

  • Break up with them in person not over the phone
  • Try to be as empathetic as you can
  • Be honest with them
  • Understand the mood they are in
  • If they are having issues, it may be worthwhile to wait until they are in a more stable state of being
  • Remember that your safety comes first

How to Help Your Partner With a Mental Illness

In my previous blog post, You Are Not Your Partner’s Mental Illness, I discussed the types of experiences people with mental illnesses can have. I explained that you are not the cause of their experiences and even though it is hard, you should not feel like you are the problem. You should do what you can to help but remember that you are not their therapist and you can only do so much. 

Here are some ways you can help your partner.

  • Embrace empathy
  • Exercise validation
  • Set aside time without distractions to be there for them
  • Provide a safe space with no judgment
  • Let them share what they want- as much or as little as they are comfortable with
  • Don’t try to give them a diagnosis
  • Let them lead the conversation
  • Try not to make assumptions 
  • Ask if they want help finding a solution or if they just want to talk
  • Listen carefully, sometimes people say things without actually saying them
  • Make sure you understand what they mean- repeat back what they said to you
  • Offer them support in seeing a professional
  • Help them with their overall wellbeing- plan things such as spa days, face masks, cooking a good meal together, exercise, or any other healthy activity you can do together

It is extremely important to know your limits. If the problem becomes too serious for you to handle on your own, you may need to reach out to a professional. If your partner says or does something that makes you believe they are in immediate danger, do not leave them alone and call your/their therapist, a local crisis center, or bring them to your local emergency room. If you do not feel safe bringing them or they refuse to go to the emergency room, call 911.