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Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

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5 Easy Ways to Take Good Care of Yourself

5 Easy Ways to Take Good Care of Yourself

Self-Care & Mental Health

In just a few days, hubby and I are taking off for Italy (so excited!), our first big vacation together in many years (did I mention that I'm so excited?). Although I've been fortunate enough to travel to some great placesrecently, he has not. That's what happens when you are too busy to get away. And did I mention that not getting away is making someone very, very cranky and stressed? Don't tell him I told you that. And if you're reading this, honey, I love you anyway.

But getting away doesn't have to involve a long vacation, nor does it have to mean spending money. Everyone needs to take a break from their lives and give themselves the gift of self-care. It's not indulgent. It's not selfish. The emotional and physical toll of not taking a break can be devastating for your mental and physical health. And the rewards of taking a break and taking good care of yourself can pay off in so many ways: in our health, our relationships and in how we interact with the world around us.

1. Get Outside

Now that the weather is looking up, being outside can feel almost like a vacation (especially to those of us who suffered through this miserable, endless winter). Instead of drinking your morning coffee in the house, step outside. Take a 10-minute break (or longer) at lunch to breathe in some fresh air. Go for a walk after dinner. (Yay for late sunsets!)

2. Ditch the Gym

No, I don't mean give up exercise—but take it outside. According to research, exercising outdoors can boost your mental health and may be enough to send your tension, anger and depression plummeting.

3. Breathe Deep

The American Institute of Stress says that deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The end result? A wonderful state of … ahhhh. Calm. Click here for more on that.

4. Read

A great book can really take you away (I was recently transported by reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch and had a hard time getting back into my world when it was over!); but so can the latest issue of People Magazine, if that's what you need to escape. Although I must admit, it was pretty depressing to read about George Clooney's gorgeous, brilliant finance, especially since I was hoping to run into him next week in Lake Como.

5. Get a Massage

OK, you have to spend some money here—but what a payoff you'll get (and it's cheaper than taking a vacation). Some massage perks: better sleep, lower anxiety, deep relaxation, stress reduction and all-around feeling good.

Other suggestions:

  • Unplug
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Pet a dog (or a cat)
  • Eat (your all-time) favorite dessert (and ignore the calories!)
  • Turn on some music and dance

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