We are all aware that self-care is essential. When we exercise self-care, it reinforces the conviction that we are worth it for ourselves. But still, somehow, it is not easy to spare time for our upkeep of ourselves. It would be wonderful if we could accommodate just one self-care activity into our regime. Self-care is a decisive part which helps to look after yourself and others. When we practice self-care, we emanate a positive emotional state, which boosts our motivation and self-esteem, thus leaving us with an enhanced energy level to sustain ourselves and our loved ones. Self-care begins with attending to your own needs and requirements.
Psychologists say that self-care strategies are helpful. They practice themselves both in good times and bad times. Here are some tips psychologists recommend to look after your mental health.
- Always register with yourself. The most straightforward self-care strategy one must take daily is checking in with myself. One can pause at different points in the day and practice mindfulness. By cultivating practices, we can easily sustain ourselves in our daily lives. It is so easy to get swathed in everything we have been undergoing in our lives. Taking out time for self-care sometimes could be an additional item to add to our to-do list. We must take time to relax, take a few deep breaths, and bring consciousness to our emotions, physical sensations, and thoughts. Based on what we notice, we respond accordingly. We also ask ourselves, “What can we do now to support ourselves?” This can involve moving our body and stretching for several minutes, spending 5-6 minutes in meditation.
- Fix time to exercise; you can’t back out of it. Exercise should be our non-negotiable self-care activity. We exercise not only for our physical health but for our mental health, also. It helps us to regulate our emotions better and reminds us that we are robust and proficient. Exercise indicates that we can push ourselves and do hard things in our lives. Decades of research have shown that exercise can be one of the most effective behavioral antidepressants. We used to feature this in the release of endorphins. However, it turns out that regular exercise also releases endocannabinoids, which enhance our sense of social connection and our sensitivity to pleasure. Working out in the morning boosts our energy, and we must start the day with a feeling of accomplishment. A benefit of group fitness classes is booking them in advance and blocking the time in our calendar.
- Try to be more exposed to nature. We must get outside to walk 5-6 km, rain or shine, almost daily. During the week, we must take short walks whenever and wherever we can. On Sundays, we must schedule a long walk with friends. There are many writings on the value of devoting time to nature. Alongside the physical benefits of walking, we get much relaxation from outdoor activities. We notice the sounds, movements, textures, and shades of green around us. Outdoors clear my mind, help relieve stress and gives me a break from technology.
- Bank upon your friendships. Social support is an essential part of my daily self-care routine. Psychologists often act in service to others, so they need to be intentional about creating mutual, reciprocal caring friendships. Studies have found that positive social support and friendships can protect against psychological suffering such as anxiety, depression, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress. We generally create boundaries with work to protect time to nourish our relationships. Talking with good friends who love and care about us is very enjoyable. We don’t want to neglect or take those close to our hearts for granted. We should encourage everyone to make it a priority to build and nourish their friendships.
- We must understand to fit into the bigger picture. We try to be mindful of the culture we participate in and contribute to it. Self-care strategies that disregard systems of power tend to have negligible usefulness long-term. We must use our professional knowledge to raise our voices against pressures promoting unhealthy fault lines. Get yourself a seat at the table. The benefit of addressing more significant obstacles is that you can have an influential, multi-generational impact. For example, the boundaries we keep and fight for are the norms that other people observe and can expect from us. We must look for opportunities to support each other. The fruits you have today were once hard-fought by someone who struggled before you. If you can, then take it forward.
- Correcting your own pyramid. Over the last couple of years, many people have come to see psychologists and felt overwhelmed after the interaction. Social justice, the economy, politics, climate change, and the world’s weight is generally felt like a giant upside-down pyramid looming primarily over them. All this can be balanced on a triangle of resources at the base of one’s pyramid. To reframe is to flip the pyramid, so it’s steady at the base. Life is a long journey. There’s a lot to work on it. If you take care to have a firm base over time, you’ll be able to confront the more intricate things at the pyramid’s apex. Imagine actual bricks in this foundation are your healthy behaviors. We all do sleep, eating, exercise, and provide social support. For creating unique things, we do like making art, practicing our spirituality, indulging in a hobby, etc. Certain things happen every day, and others happen irregularly. At the end of every day, we must draw our pyramid and think about whether we’ve hit on most of our bricks or not.
Conclusion: Most people struggle to prioritize Self-care. Generally, there is a misapprehension that self-care is selfishness. However, this is far away from reality. Self-care is a vital initiative for taking care of yourself as well as others. Though a certain amount of stress is a healthy way to motivate you to get a task done, constant stress and anxiety can adversely affect your mental well-being and physical health. Self-care habits such as connecting with a loved one or practicing meditation reduce the adverse effects of stress by improving your mood and boosting your energy and confidence levels.
Self-care looks different for everyone, and finding what you need and enjoy is crucial. It may take a trial and error method to discover what suits best for you. Also, although self-care is not a cure for mental illnesses, understanding what causes or triggers your mild symptoms and what coping techniques work for you can help manage your mental health.