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Take A Breath of Self-Care with Nadia Jooste

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For many people, when they hear the term ‘self-care’, they think of bubble baths, manicures, applying face masks, indulging in luxuries, pampering, and the like.

However, it is so important to recognize that although it is good to treat yourself, this is not what self-care is all about.
Self-care is about taking care of yourself, your body, and your physical and mental well-being. It is about recognizing when you are falling into unhealthy patterns such as procrastination, binging, or overspending. It is also about recognising when you are overworking yourself and taking on too many challenges.
But most importantly, it is essential to focus not only on physical health but your mental health as well.
Because after all, when one’s body falls ill, we take care of it by taking some time off, we use medication, and we nurture our wounds until it heals. And so, the same ought to be done for our minds.
Today we speak to a Medical Doctor of mental health, Nadia Jooste. We learn more about her journey into the medical field as well as gain some advice on how to better take care of our mental health.

1) Tell us about your journey as a medical doctor in mental health. Is this something you always knew you wanted to do?

When I was studying to be a doctor and rotating through the different medical disciplines, I got to the mental health rotation, and I was just completely intrigued and loved learning how the mind works. I fell in love with psychiatry instantly. Postgrad I completed an additional Diploma in Mental Health and I’ve been working in the field for 10 years now. I'm very fortunate to be doing what I love and what I'm passionate about, I can't wait to go to work every day!

2) Mental Health is often something that is overlooked by many. Can you tell us the importance of looking after one's mental health?

You're right, mental health is often overlooked and placed quite low on people's lists of priorities. According to the WHO, health is defined as not merely the absence of disease, but a complete state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. It is clear that mental health is indeed a great and vital component of a person's overall health and wellbeing. I think often people don't realize that and a lot can still be done for mental health awareness.

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3) What are potential causes or signs that people should be aware of when it comes to mental health declining?

It is so important to be aware of and pay attention to your mental state and I think it is good practice to regularly "check-in with yourself". A few things you can look out for include feeling exhausted, drained of energy or constantly tired, not enjoying things that used to be pleasurable to you, noticing changes in sleeping patterns or appetite, feeling anxious, irritable or emotional, having difficulty concentrating or paying attention, feeling like your personal relationships are negatively impacted by the way you feel. Also, an increase in physical ailments or just general feelings of being unwell.

4) Being a mother of 3, what is some advice you can offer other moms/teens about taking care of one's mental health?

I think the first thing to realize, is that taking care of yourself, and your mental health is not a luxury, it is a necessity. You need to take care of yourself to be able to be the best version of yourself and so that the quality of your interactions with your family and friends on a day-to-day basis is as good as it can be. You can't pour from an empty cup, so you need to take care of yourself. You can do this physically, by eating healthy nourishing meals, getting enough sleep, being physically active and having a good skincare routine, for example. 

Mentally you can take care of yourself by taking some "me time" preferably every day- time spent just relaxing, being in the moment, being mindful, spending time outside, exercising, or doing something you love like learning a new skill or practising a hobby. Socially you can take care of yourself by connecting with loved ones, spending time with friends or having meaningful conversations with people, for example. You need these things to have optimal mental health and it’s important not to feel guilty about taking time for yourself.

5) Merrell believes in encouraging a life of adventure and being outdoors- what is your experience with the great outdoors?

Being outdoors and spending time in nature is a massive part of my life- I am a very enthusiastic trail runner, so I start most of my days out on the trails in the valley, which is right in my backyard, and what a way to start a day watching the sunrise while you are running outside. On weekends I'll usually try to find a mountain to climb or a coastal track to run. For me, being in nature is such a vital part of my mental well-being, trail running is my "me time"- I clear my mind and connect with nature in that time, I absorb both the calm and the energy of my natural surroundings, and it grounds me but also revitalizes and energizes me for the day ahead. My family is also very outdoorsy- we often go camping or hiking or spend time at the beach, and all 3 of my children just love playing outside in the garden- they’ll choose that over screen time any day.

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6) Would you say that being in nature is good for one's mental health?

The impact of spending time in nature on a person's mental health is an area that is being scientifically researched more and more, and studies are finding that spending time outdoors has a definite positive effect on your mental well-being. It is also known that being physically active has great mental health benefits. What is really interesting and exciting to me is the synergistic effect of being physically active while being outdoors. The effects of both of these individually are multiplied when you do them together. This is a concept termed "green exercise", and it's receiving quite a bit of attention in scientific circles at the moment. There are so many benefits of green exercise, some of these include improved mood, decreased anxiety, boosted self-esteem, and increased resilience, which enables you to handle life's everyday stressors more easily. The cognitive benefits of improved attention and concentration have also been proven.

7) What are some additional tips you can give for keeping one's mental health on the right track?

I think that having self-awareness in terms of where you're at mentally is crucial in managing your mental and overall health. Also, to realise that you need to take that bit of time every day and invest it in yourself, as this will ultimately make you a happier, healthier, and more successful version of yourself.

Here at Merrell, we encourage a lifestyle of outdoor adventure. As we’ve learned today, being outdoors can positively impact our physical and mental well-being. So, grab your pair of Merrell Footwear and take a deep breath of self-care in nature.