Today I will be sharing with you ideas on self-care for mental health.
The phrase ‘self-care’ is a popular one, and conjures up images of luxurious bubble baths with a glass of wine or hour-long meditation sessions.
Self-care has long been misunderstood in many ways, perhaps a mantra reserved for yoga-doers, an indulgent brushing aside of responsibilities or as therapy only when feelings of stress, depression and anxiety are at their worst.
But in recent years, the concept of self-care has become so universal that the World Health Organisation now officially recognises it as an essential ability to care for ourselves, our families and our communities.
Proper self-care is crucial for mental health and feeling well.
Though often we tend to get distracted by the daily tasks of our stressful everyday life and therefore forget to focus on ourselves.
Self-care doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive and doesn’t need to take more than 5 minutes of your day.
The idea of self-care is basically taking time to care for yourself.
On some days this might look like taking time off to do nothing or attending a yoga class, on other days it is as simple as taking a breather in the middle of a stressful day.
It’s ok to put yourself first. Self-care is an important part of managing your stress and can help you stay happy and healthy.
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WHAT IS SELF-CARE?
Because it’s important we’re all on the same page, right?
Let’s start with a self-care definition from Oxford Dictionaries:
“The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”
“The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
So basically, self-care is you and I taking responsibility for our own health, both mental and physical.
Seems pretty legit and certainly not self-indulgent.
In fact, for anyone to suggest that taking responsibly for your mental and physical health is anything but common sense, well they’re the one’s sounding ridiculous.
Please don’t let anyone shame you for self-care or listen to anyone that says anything negative about your self-care practices.
You are taking responsibility for your physical and mental health, that is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about at all.
Self-care is not selfish – as mentioned earlier, it will improve you as a person, and that will make you a better person to be around.
WHY IS SELF-CARE SO IMPORTANT?
This seems like a no-brainer. But so many people forget how neglecting self-care damages other areas of our life – until it actually happens.
With energised minds and bodies, we can, first of all, be more productive. You can get more done in less time, and in turn have more hours left for the things you love.
As you can see, a good kind of a self-perpetuating cycle grows out of making your wellness and emotional contentedness a priority.
Through these activities/through patterns/habits, you make sure you live as your best self, rather than just exist.
Cheesiness ahead warning, but why are so many of us concerned about making ‘enjoying life’ a frequent, rather than an occasional treat?!
Focusing on wellbeing and happiness now prevents burnout from creeping up on you and throwing your health and stress levels out of control.
You should never feel bad about making yourself a priority, and inspires you to take action accordingly.
THINK OF SELF-CARE AS THE DAILY ATTENTION AND LOVE THAT YOU GIVE TO YOURSELF
When you take care of your needs, you feel nourished, content, in balance and this supports your ability to feel at peace. Self-care builds resilience in times of challenge.
Self-care is self-love. When you identify what nourishes and feeds your soul, and as you provide this for yourself, you feel loved.
It’s important to assess how much self-care you give, especially if you have recently (or if you have for a prolonged time), felt emotionally or physically drained or exhausted.
Self-care is also a learned behaviour. We are shown how to do this early in our lives as it is modelled by our caregivers and taught to us.
You may need to teach yourself self-care if it is something that you have not learned. As self-care becomes a naturally occurring daily habit, your positive feelings about yourself grow immensely – and you feel autonomous as you are able to care for your needs.
Self-Care for Mental Health – Ultimate Guide!
I’ve been making a really conscious effort to include more self-care habits in my daily routine for a while now.
It has made an incredible difference to my stress levels and mental health.
There’s no need to take on every single one of the self-care tips in this guide all at once.
Gradually build these self-care ideas into your day-to-day and you’ll soon see the benefits.
Here some ideas to practice self-care for your mental health.
The importance of sleep may be overlooked unless of course you have experienced difficulty sleeping or falling back asleep if you wake during the night.
In fact, sleep is an important healing and self-nourishing practice.
Go without it or have disruptive sleep cycles and you will feel irritable, distracted easily, and it will be difficult to feel productive.
Movement and exercise
We know the benefits of exercise but do you think of them as self -care? Exercise stimulates the release of serotonin.
These are mood stabilisers and they help us to feel motivated and happy.
Not only are there several physical benefits, but you build greater resilience to stress by building in daily exercise sessions.
This is how you continue to support yourself and to feel at your best.
Be kind to yourself
This is also called kind and loving self -talk. What you say to yourself often goes unnoticed.
What you say, you believe – so, to nourish and care for yourself best, you need to begin a practice of kind and positive self-talk that encourages, accepts, and loves who you currently are.
This self-care habit is one that we all must give our attention to since we all hold messages and beliefs taught to us that are less than kind.
Do something each day that you love
Ideally, there will be much in your day that you enjoy and that allows you to feel happy and fulfilled.
Identify what you love and then decide how you can include some of these activities in each day.
Doing what you enjoy allows you to nurture and care for your needs and it reinforces your confidence and worth.
There is always something new to learn that nourishes us and that adds to our growing confidence in what we know. Each day, make time to learn something new.
Carve out time for daily learning and you will look forward to this self-care practice that focuses on your ability to know and experience more.
One of my favourites is to begin each day in a state of love – this means finding your inner calm and peace so that you can you shine brightly of this light in the world.
There are many ways to conjure your inner love vibe – some of the easiest and most direct ways to feel your inner being is through meditation, prayer, gratitude, being in the present moment, and to think thoughts of positivism and love directed towards yourself and of others.
Consider what allows you to be of your loving nature. Connect with this energy and live out of this heart-centred kindness is how you are love in action.
You may also want to take mini-breaks throughout your day to re-establish this state of being for yourself. It will prove to be so helpful to you.
If you would like some practice on this now, please check out these resources on self-love, loving kindness, and being of love unto yourself.
Self-care is investing in your physical well -being. It means eating healthy, whole (unprocessed), and if possible, organic.
Consider how you may take more time and presence with preparing your food with care and love.
Holding gratitude for the healthy food and clean water that you have, and for nourishing your body and mind since you will always think and feel better when what you eat and drink is supporting your health.
Inner contemplation and self-reflection requires time in silence with yourself.
To be alone and in thoughtful pursuits of what is important to you now and for your future will uplift and inspire – and it will allow you to feel at peace.
Meditation is the quieting of your mind so that you can experience the present moment.
With meditation practice, you begin to find yourself living out of the present moment far more often – and with this, appreciating the beauty and perfection of life.
Prayer can take many forms, but most simply it is the conversations that you have with your highest self for guidance and nurturing.
Meditation and prayer support our need for connection with a power that we hold within ourselves for free will choice – for choosing a path that is remarkable – for inner reflection and our sacred dedication towards what positive action will support us.
Be willing to write your thoughts and feelings – to express your inner world onto paper (or as notes that you record in your technological device).
Writing is the physical manifestation of your inner world – and it is the outward means of expressing what you desire and dream of.
As you bring these experiences to light, you manifest their form – you provide the space and the transformation of these experiences to live beyond what they are inside your being.
As a self-care practice, writing is a way of connecting with your inner world – with validating how you feel – and it is a tool for helping you witness your perceptions and beliefs, and for problem solving.
Take 5 -10 minutes to write some of what you have been thinking on any topic – what you feel right now – or a goal or intention that you would like to formally acknowledge.
Notice how your regular writing practice brings to the surface what is needed – how it sheds light on who you are. Journal writing is a wonderful process to discover more about yourself.
The below is an excellent guided self-care journal:
Self-care is the emotional expression of giving yourself permission to heal, to return to peace – to be whole. It is the permission to release past hurts and self -recrimination.
When we forgive our self, and as we use our experiences as a learning ground for how we wish to be in the present and future, we can hold comfort in knowing that the experiences of our life, and our actions may hold presence – they are towards something pure and of meaning.
If you hold yourself in contempt for the actions of your past, you are not allowing yourself to heal – nor integrate what new information and choices you are now choosing.
We learn through trial and error – of not always knowing the right answer, of not having the capacity in some moments to live from our heart – to do our best.
If you want to practice self-forgiveness, begin with your gentle urging – your willingness to accept all of you as imperfect and perfect – as a work in progress towards all that you desire to be – and of the knowledge that everything serves to teach you much if you allow it.
Start with these words, said out loud: “I forgive you. I love you.” Notice how these words resonate at a much deeper level, offering you the permission to forgive yourself.
Say these words with compassion – allow yourself to take them in, to feel their weighted presence and relief.
Self-care is present in the few moments of time that you choose to organize, tidy, or clean your physical environment.
This is how you simultaneously offer appreciation, respect and kindness directed to yourself as cleanliness and care.
You may wish to expand this to such broader acts of collecting garbage off of the street as you take your evening walk or tidy an area of your workplace.
These actions benefit how you feel about your space and environment and they also invoke personal pride and a sense of accomplishment.
Yoga may be considered exercise but it is more about a philosophy, a mindset – and a way of approaching life that includes the union of body, mind, and nonphysical awareness (as energy).
Whether some gentle asanas (postures) to stretch and strengthen your body first thing in the morning, as a healthful break during your work day, or perhaps an online class, you are choosing to nourish all aspects of yourself through mindful attention, posture awareness, breathing, care and love of yourself.
The benefits of yoga are remarkable.
Unplug from technology
We are all so dependent on our devices that we are often distracted from the care and love that we need to give our self on a moment-to-moment basis.
Self-care is possible when you focus on yourself without multi -tasking or other distractions.
Unplug for 10 minutes or ideally one hour and pay attention to the world that you live in as you check in with yourself and give to you what is needed.
Listen to your body
Treat your body as the ultimate source of wonder and love that allows you to experience the physical world.
Give your body what it needs to thrive. We often push ourselves working around the clock – not truly giving our body (or mind) enough rest and all that it needs.
I have on several occasions, heard stories of people being admitted to hospital because they have – and for a prolonged time, pushed themselves beyond what has been healthy – because of their thoughts and belief that they should or must work harder, longer, and more.
Your body is always giving you signals to help you remain in a state of equilibrium.
Check in with your physical needs by being mindful and self-aware.
Ultimate self-care is the nurturing of your physical needs, whether that is rest, a mental break, healthful food or supplements, water, a nap, exercise, a task that needs your attention – all of which come from listening and caring for your body.
Your body as a vessel of health – as a temple that houses your eternal self are metaphors for reminding you, of the care that you need to attend to.
Check in often and ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment?” Provide this to yourself to feel nourished and cared for.
Future planning and visioning
Self-care is the ability to set goals and plan for your future based on what is most wanted.
Habitually ask yourself these two questions: “What do I want for my future?” and “What is most important for me to focus on now?”
These questions help guide and direct your energy and time in ways that will be most helpful and productive, and which will move you towards your long -term goals.
When you create goals, remember to decide on the action steps that will allow you to see your goals through.
Have a plan and a course of action for how you will attain what you want.
Follow through on this plan and update it regularly to ensure that you are always focused on what is most important now and for your future.
Self-care is future planning to ensure that you have in place – what is most desired for your life.
Make time each day for self-reflection as self-care so that you can plan and envision what is most important to you.
Set your timer for 10 minutes and let your mind take you into your future.
Visualise your ideal self
Together with future planning, visualise and imagine your ideal self. This is how you become the best version of yourself.
It is also how you feel inspired to continue on your path towards your ideal.
Visualising builds greater confidence in how you think and feel about yourself.
Music and sound
Whatever sounds are most nourishing for you is what you need to hear each day.
For some, this is a particular type of music – for others who are musicians, it is important that they practice and hear the music that they co-create.
For many others it is nature sounds: birds, the ocean, the breeze as it rustles leaves in the trees – or perhaps the sound of a fountain or waterfall.
We can find reproductions of sounds in nature to play in the background as we are indoors.
The benefits of sound and music are great for your wellbeing, and they nourish and care for yourself.
Break old habits
Self-care is about recognising what habits and behaviours create dissonance and sabotage you from how you want to feel and be.
There are many ways to break an unhealthy habit.
One of the ways that I teach this to clients is to think of it as shedding an old aspect of yourself that is no longer needed.
If you choose to think of your unhealthy habits in this way, and as you choose to let go of them, decide what new healthy self-care practices or habits you will replace them with.
Think of what will best serve your highest good and what new practices will allow you feel great so that it will be easier to teach yourself the new habit.
Self-care is self-love. When you do for yourself what is needed – when you make time to care for and nurture yourself, these are examples of self-love.
Self-love is also the words that you say inward and aloud. It is your messages of kindness spoken unto yourself that serve as reminders for your care and love of yourself.
Present moment awareness (Mindfulness)
Self-care is the ability to know what you need in any given moment and to be able to then give this to yourself. It is also how you witness yourself in the present.
When you are distracting or busying yourself, you miss out on the precious moments of life always in motion.
Practice stopping for a time what you are doing and sit or stand in stillness. Take in everything for 1 full minute. All of your senses now open to what you are aware of.
Notice how your senses become attuned to both your external world and what you witness within.
This is how you build greater presence in your life – how you hone the ability to step into the present moment by choice, and to nourish yourself with the ability to be aware and awake.
For more on practising mindfulness and present moment awareness.
The simplest self-care practice you could give yourself is to take conscious deep breaths and often.
New research suggests that 5 minutes of deep breathing is as beneficial as meditation – because when you breathe with conscious, mindful, awareness – you experience the benefits of calming the nerve which is responsible for calming your entire body.
Kindness in self -talk is self -compassion. We need self -compassion in order to enjoy a positive and uplifted way of experiencing our self – and for being patient and for giving our self-permission to feel good and nourished.
Self -compassion is a central construct in Buddhist psychology. It is how we practice kindness to our self.
When you are completely honest with yourself, you soar – because in self-honesty lies the opportunity for change, growth, self -awareness and discovery.
Your willingness to be self-honest proclaims to yourself and others that you are someone that can be trusted and relied on to be truthful.
When you are willing to reveal the truth to yourself about anything, you no longer hold yourself back in life by wishing for something that is not going to be – instead, you take charge to move forward on what you do have control over.
Self-honesty is how you honour your inner being – it is how you align yourself with what is right and best for you.
This is one of the highest examples of practising self -care.
Sunlight received by going outdoors shuts down the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps you sleep at night.
This natural means of shutting your melatonin down during the day, helps you to be awake and alert. 10 or 15 minutes in the morning as you take a brisk walk would be ideal.
Sunlight (and in particular morning sunlight) as it absorbs into the skin, triggers the body’s production of vitamin D.
Your body is meant to be in the sun, and exposure to sunlight during the day is crucial to your wellbeing.
Gratitude is self-care and self-love
One of the most powerful ways to feel instant joy and inner contentment and to feel blessed and nourished in your life is gratitude.
I think it’s so important to experience this first -hand, to witness how uplifting gratitude is as self-care and self-love.
Take 10 -15 minutes each evening to reflect on the self-care that you did that day – and plan for what self-care you will give to yourself the following day.
This is a wonderful practice that encourages you to reflect upon what self-care practices were most helpful – and as a gratifying means of honouring your commitment to your self -care.
I promise if you do this, it will become a practice that you look forward to – to reflect upon how your self-care has helped you to feel nourished and cared for, and it will be a welcome means to plan for what you put in place for yourself for the upcoming day.
Maintain healthy boundaries with all people in your life
Boundaries are the expressions that we uphold for our self that allow us to feel safe and secure – to be in control of our choices, and to honour our needs.
If we overextend our self, or if we do for others at the expense of our needs, we are not respectful of our care, nor personal boundaries.
Having boundaries allows you to say “no” when something does not feel right to do. It is also what helps you to instil the right kind of care each time that you recognize what is needed.
Self-Care for Mental Health – Final thoughts
Your body and mind are always going to be your most valuable assets.
To get through each day, you need to do whatever you can do in order to keep both in good shape.
Remember to cut yourself some slack and to go easier on yourself during these challenging and pressing times.
Schedule time for yourself and make yourself your own number one priority. Your mind and body will thank you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you are doing to change your life in the coming days and years!
If you have any questions please reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!
I really hope you found inspiration in this article.
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Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about subjects such as spiritual growth, self-discovery, expanding your awareness, inner peace, self-care and mental health. Please connect with me on my journey and join the community!