How Does Self-Care Affect Your Mental Health?
The phrase ‘self-care’ has become popular in recent years and we see many services and products promoting it. But, with so many responsibilities in life and never-ending ‘to-do’ lists, it can be hard to prioritise something even as simple as taking a bath. To keep up with the fast pace of life, we may find ourselves overworking, cancelling our exercise class and cutting back on socialising.
So, is practising self-care really that important? The answer is yes! It’s an essential aspect of stress-management that you must make time for – no matter how busy life may seem. Let’s take a look at why…
First, what exactly is self-care?
In a nutshell, it means paying enough attention to your own emotional and psychological well-being. While this may seem like a vague description (like how much is enough attention?), the truth is, self-care is different for each individual.
For some, self-care may involve being around friends in a social setting, while others may prefer an evening at home, watching a movie or taking a bubble bath. There are endless ways to practice self-care! It really comes down to setting aside time regularly for activities that you enjoy and leaves you feeling refreshed.
It also includes all the things you need to do to stay healthy and reduce stress, in order to feel as mentally well as possible. While getting a massage is viewed as self-care, so is cleaning your home and attending therapy sessions to address your emotional needs.
How does self-care benefit you?
It’s much harder to handle the stresses that life throws at us when we’re already depleted by emotional and psychical exhaustion. In other words, we’re more resilient to problems when we’re feeling our best. But, taking time out for ourselves also has three other main benefits:
It benefits your physical health
Self-care may not seem to lead to massive improvements in your overall wellbeing as directly as exercise and eating a healthy do. But, the relaxation you experience helps to prevent the risk of chronic stress – which protects you from damaging your health in the long run.
It benefits your emotional health
Having a well-cared-for body can leave you feeling good about your life. It helps remind you that your needs are important too, which can contribute to feelings of well-being in the long-term. Those who neglect their needs are at risk of higher levels of unhappiness and feelings of low self-esteem.
It benefits those around you
Those who forget to look after their own needs while caring for others run the risk of burning out. In turn, this makes it challenging to provide quality care for others or themselves. As the saying goes ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, so make sure your happiness levels stay topped up and you’ll be able to provide better care to those around you.
So, how do I practice self-care?
Practising self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or labour-intensive to be effective. Learn to observe how your routine and certain activities affect your mood and stress levels.
There are many ways to focus on taking care of our needs and your personal self-care strategies will depend on what works best for you and your personality.
Here are some simple self-care strategies that work for many people:
- Listen to music – put your headphones in and chill out to your favourite songs
- Take a bath – get out the bubbles, lather up and soak while you read a book
- Go for a walk – put on your trainers for a quick 10-15 minute walk around your neighbourhood
- Do a Pilates class – use YouTube to follow your favourite work-out class
- Eat a healthy meal – get in the kitchen and cook your favourite healthy dish
- Follow a good skincare routine – set aside time to pamper yourself regularly
- Address your emotion needs – talk to a trusted friend or therapist about your worries, or keep a journal.
- Practice healthy sleep habits – go to bed earlier and make sure your room is quiet and comfortable for a restful sleep at night.
- Take care of your physical health – stay on top of regular check-ups, medications, therapy sessions, or any other care that you need
Get help when you need it
If you’re struggling with a mental condition such as depression or anxiety, it may be time to practice some self-love strategies and address your emotional needs. At Positive Mind Works, we have a team of friendly, experienced Psychologists and Psychiatrists who are dedicated to providing real solutions to help you enjoy a balanced life.