Self Care Part 1; The Importance of Self Care
May is Mental Health month so I thought it would be fitting to have a few extra posts about mental health. Just for a bit of background about myself; I am an accredited with Mental Health First Aid and a counselor. I also have several degree’s in mental health related areas. Please keep in mind that what I write is a generalization and ideas, tips and comments may not be able to help everyone. It is best to go to a counselor yourself and discuss any problems. Please do not self diagnose yourself and if you are experiencing mental health issues that are life threatening, please call for immediate help.
As I recently published my personal pamper night routine, I though I would follow it up with a more concise post on self-care and it’s benefits. In the following post, I will write about the different types of self-care as well as some ideas for your own time out.
What is self-care?
Essentially, self-care is an umbrella term for an activity you do to look after and be kind to yourself. Self-care can get you intouch with your mental and physical limits and give you time to switch off and relax without any attached guilt or stress. It also emcompases self-compassion into your life that prevents you from the possibility of burning out.
It’s necessary to note that although something may feel good, it may not be self-care and can actually be destructive. This refers to alcohol, drugs, gambling, over/unhealthy eating or unnecessary risk taking. Such activities can be considered self-destructive and although they may help regulate certain emotions or situations, the relief they offer is very temporary and can have severe consequences. Proper self-care on the other hand has long-term benefits for both the mind and body.
Self-care offers several benefits, the most obvious one relating to your mood and energy levels. I have compiled the top five benefits of self-care below:
-Increased self knowledge: by setting aside time for self-care, you start learning how to listen to your body and your own mental health. If you notice you’re becoming easily agitated for example, it may be time to stop and find some time to make sure you relax and switch off. If you are noticing your back is getting overly sore, maybe it’s time for a relaxing warm bath and perhaps a good book with a wheat pack on the sore area. Don’t try to keep going if you feel your body slowing down, you will just make yourself sick in the long run and you can burn yourself out.
-Boost your self-esteem: By regularly participating in self-care, you slowly start telling your subconscious the positive message that you are important and worthy of time out. By treating yourself like you matter, you will feel that you matter. By actively discouraging such negative self-talk, you silence your inner critic and focus on your positivity.
-Increased productivity: Taking time out for yourself refreshes your mind and body making you more productive. This time out also gives you a chance to re-evaluate your life and say ‘no’ to things that may over-extend you. By sharpening your goals, you concentrate better and have something amazing to aim for.
-Fill your cup: You cannot pour from an empty cup; self care gives you the time and resources to become compassionate to yourself which you can then extend to others. Self-care allows you to give more to yourself and to others.
-Resistance to disease: During self-care, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system which means your body goes into a restful, rejuvenated mode which overall helps improve your immune system. Mental health and strength often related to physical strength too so the more you take time out the less likely you are to fall ill.
Everyone should practice self-care. It benefits you both physically, mentally and makes you more compassionate towards others. By finding the type of self-care that benefits you, you can become a more active and mentally strong person. Remember, self-care does not make you selfish and it’s ok to put yourself first when you really need it. Don’t feel guilty if you need to take a night off and spend it doing things that bring you joy. Give yourself permission to take a rest and enjoy some ‘me-time’.
In my next blog, I will be discussing the different types of self-care and examples of activities you can incorporate into your new self-care regime.