Beginner's Guide To Self-Care For Mental Health

May 6, 2024

Self-care is a term that describes any activity individuals undertake deliberately to help with their physical, emotional, and mental health. However, many individuals often overlook basic aspects of self-care. A good self-care regimen can help reduce anxiety and improve an individual's overall mood. It also helps an individual's relationships with others function more healthily. Experts say self-care shouldn't be forced and shouldn't be something the person doesn't enjoy. Self-care should be used to refuel someone instead of draining their energy. Rather than being a selfish act, self-care is important if an individual wants to care for others. They can't meet the needs of others adequately until their own needs have first been met.

Importance And Benefits Of Self-Care

The biggest benefit of self-care is generally feeling better in day-to-day life. When individuals take care of their responsibilities, their energy tends to be drained. It's important for everyone to engage in activities that help them enjoy life. Not enjoying life can cause both mental and physical health issues. Researchers have discovered other common benefits of implementing a self-care regimen. When individuals slow down and take adequate breaks, their brain's function is improved, which leads to higher productivity.

Self-care also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows the body to rest and relax. Regular self-care gives individuals a chance to check in with themselves and become more familiar with their body's limits. Individuals can also explore hobbies and activities they might have otherwise neglected. All in all, a self-care regimen helps replenish energy and gets individuals in touch with their own needs, which allows them to function better in every area of their life.

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care tends to be the most straightforward type of self-care. It's built on the principle that an individual's body should be well-nourished and given the right resources to function. The three overarching aspects of physical self-care are sufficient rest and sleep, proper exercise, and good nutrition. Once individuals have met these needs, they can use other activities to take care of their body. Depending on an individual's overall health and preferences, they might enjoy massages, long baths, breathing exercises, physiotherapy, and other activities.

For able-bodied individuals, physicians generally recommend at least thirty minutes of exercise at least three to four times a week, with additional sessions being ideal. Many individuals go to the gym or start running around their neighborhood even if they don't particularly like the activity. But with physical self-care, the exercise individuals engage in should be one they enjoy. Other suggestions aside from running include hiking, swimming, biking, and even dancing.

Emotional And Psychological Self-Care

Emotional and psychological self-care can be trickier to master because they tend to be more abstract than physical self-care. With emotional self-care, individuals should let themselves feel emotions without judging them. This means acknowledging negative emotions but viewing them as a current running through their body, rather than an inherent state of being. It also means looking for activities that help them experience positive emotions. These might be things that make them laugh, time spent with loved ones, and re-experiencing their favorite piece of media. It's also helpful for individuals to allow themselves to cry if they're feeling sad, as tears can release the hormones and endorphins causing the sadness.

Psychological self-care means taking care of the mind. This type of self-care is often the hardest for individuals to engage in because it requires them to draw boundaries and recognize their limits. Individuals have to learn to say no to stressful, unnecessary responsibilities. They might also get in touch with their thoughts and emotions by journaling. Some individuals take care of their minds by engaging their intelligence through art, thoughtful discussion, or stimulating games.

Self-Care During A Mental Health Crisis

It's important to engage in self-care during a mental health crisis. The stigma surrounding mental health issues can sometimes lead individuals to neglect their own mental health. But when someone is experiencing symptoms of mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any number of other issues, it's vital for them to take time for self-care. In these cases, self-care is not only important for general well-being, but it's also an essential part of mental health treatment as well.

Sometimes self-care might mean an individual admitting when a problem has become too big for them to face alone. If the sadness or fear experienced on a daily basis is interfering with an individual's functioning, they should talk to a mental health professional. Like regular doctor's appointments, appointments regarding mental health are a way of caring for both the body and brain.

The Role Others Play

Some individuals fail to prioritize themselves in terms of who they care for first. When individuals have responsibilities to their friends, relatives, parents, partners, children, and co-workers, it might be hard for them to remember they need to take care of themselves too. It's also sometimes easier to focus on others than to take the time for introspection. But failing to take care of oneself means an individual will be run-down and lack the energy to care for others in their life.

There's also an important role others play in self-care: they want their loved ones to take care of themselves too so they may also lead happy, fulfilling lives. Additionally, if an individual is feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities, it's okay for them to reach out to others in their life for help. Communicating one's needs is a huge part of self-care that shouldn't be overlooked.

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