5 Steps for Self-Care & Mental Wellbeing
What We’re Reading
By Araxe Hajian
Miraval Resorts’ summer reading pick is The Self-Healing Mind by Dr. Gregory Scott Brown, a perfect companion for anyone seeking to boost their wellbeing.
In a season of incessant news, careening markets, and record heat, Dr. Brown’s practical and approachable style offers a foundation and five pillars with strategies for staying in step in a shifting world by accessing the infinite power and unlimited potential of our minds.
Dr. Brown, a leading psychiatrist—one of the few Black psychiatrists in the United States—proposes that in addition to conventional routes (including therapy, medications, and other interventions), we can take simple, actionable steps to support, supplement, and elevate our mental wellness to live our most fulfilled lives.
Dr. Brown offers personal anecdotes, stories from his practice, and evidence-based findings to highlight the importance of two things we talk about a lot at Miraval Resorts: mental wellbeing and self-care. Is it any surprise we’re big fans?
We wholeheartedly concur with his assertion that “tools for sustainable wellness start and end with essential acts of self-care.” We tend to dismiss self-care as frivolous or weak, but it’s a strength and skill set that Dr. Brown says utilizes “adaptive and healthy ways to recharge.”
Self-care goes beyond the basics (eating well, exercising, or getting a good night’s sleep) to create a healthy lifestyle for your body and mind. So many of us find ourselves in caregiver roles: spouses, parents, employers, or friends. We think of care as something we offer others but deny ourselves. We consider self-care a selfish luxury, but Dr. Brown tells us otherwise.
“Self-care,” he explains, “is actually one of the most selfless acts you can do. That’s because it’s impossible to be all-in for those who need you the most when you’re neglecting what your body and mind need to be their best.”
Try Dr. Brown’s suggestions to learn how to nourish your mind for consistent results with his five-part practice for revitalizing your life. He likens learning to train the way we think to training muscle groups during workouts and suggests that it “can help offset the type of thinking that can spiral into depression or anxiety.”
5 Steps for Self-Care & Mental Wellbeing
Dr. Brown explains how intentionally focusing on your breath can help you practice mindfulness and movement. He uses the example of yoga and how we can use it—and other breathwork practices like Tai Chi or Pilates—in real-life situations to regulate our responses to stressful situations. Dr. Brown offers scientific proof these practices can increase important neurochemicals in the brain that promote feelings of calmness and relaxation. “It’s an underutilized intervention,” he says, “that can work for everyone.”
Watch and try this breathwork exercise HERE by Alyson Simms, Body Mind Spirit Specialist.
How often do we sacrifice sleep for “more important things?” Dr. Brown reminds us that sleep is essential to our mental and physical health. He offers helpful suggestions for creating an environment conducive to relaxation and sleep. Dive into this section to learn great skills for optimizing sleep with bedtime rituals, progressive muscle relaxation, breathwork, and one of our favorites, Yoga Nidra. Anyone who has visited a Miraval Resort knows that sleep is a number one priority.
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We often talk about the trifecta of mind-body-soul, and most of us feel pretty comfortable identifying the first two in pretty concrete terms. The third—the soul—can be more abstract and trickier to define. Dr. Brown doesn’t associate spirituality with any one religion or practice but encourages us all to access whatever it is that speaks to the soul. It could be meditation, music, connection, poetry, prayer, or selfless service.
Eating mindfully can also nourish your mental health. Dr. Brown offers practical, targeted substitutions, including ways to bring more leafy greens into your diet (and how they affect our brains) and make your comfort foods more nutrient-dense. This book is not pushing for overnight leaps or rapid changes. You won’t find any prescriptions here for fad diets or fast fixes. Instead, this book nudges us to take small, realistic steps toward an overarching goal of whole health.
Dr. Brown is a kind, compassionate doctor, listener, and brilliant strategist who believes you can incorporate ways of “moving your body for your mind” in your everyday life. He outlines how we can move mindfully to meet each moment by developing a routine. Adding a social element helps us stay connected and motivated—we can share our successes and support each other through challenges.
Dr. Brown’s book encourages us to shift the conversation about mental wellness to include positivity and hope while acknowledging the reality, hardship, and hopelessness accompanying our society’s declining mental health. He points out that when we speak about mental health, “our mind immediately goes to everything that could go wrong with it—instead of what can go right.”
Instead of making ourselves beacons of bleakness, we can become heralds of hope; we can wholly support Dr. Brown’s assertion that “contentment, the state of being okay with who you are and what you have, is not only possible but inevitable.”
“Hope,” maintains Dr. Brown, “is more than a feeling.”
It’s something we need to stimulate. Its activation can help people understand that “living with mental health can bring them closer to fully experiencing the moments of happiness that come along with it.”
Araxe Hajian is a senior writer who covers wellness stories and specialist offerings at Miraval Resorts & Spas. She was associate editor and writer at Life in Balance Magazine, storyteller at the social platform MindMeet, and author of numerous articles and Miraval Resorts’ coffee-table book Miraval Mindful by Design.