Self-Care Part 2; The types of Self Care and activities you can do
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
This is part two of my Self Care series for Mental Health Month. If you would like to read part one, please click here. Part One looked at what self-care was and some of it’s benefits. In this post, we will talk about the different types of self-care and some ideas for each section you can incorporate into your life.
There are several types of self-care practices which can mostly be done at home, very cheaply (mostly free) and none are especially difficult. The most challenging part of self-care is finding some time to do it. However, I find that if the activity is something that you really enjoy, you are more likely to fit it into your schedual. I find that by having a switch off time on a certain night to be really helpful and I often turn off my computer, emails and phone to stop me being distracted. Since doing this, I have become very protective of my self-care time and look forward to it every week.
There are five main types of self-care; sensory, emotional, spiritual, physical and social. As every person is different, you may find that some types of self care work better for you and your lifestyle. For example, because my work revolves around being around people and constantly being in contact with them, I like to be left alone and enjoy the peace and quiet of an empty house. I would recommend reflecting on each of the following sections and think about which activities speak to you or perhaps you can add some new ideas that would be perfect for you such as something more adventurous. Remember everyone is different, and what may work for one person may not work for another.
Sensory self-care emphasizes the calming of the mind. By homing in on your surroundings, you can ground yourself, be present and mindful. This state of mind can help you release past resentments, reduce any anxieties you may be carrying and allow you to let go of difficulties both past and present. Whilst practicing sensory self-care, think about all your senses and what is happening around you. Think about touch, smell, sound and sight and be present within the moment you are in.
Ideas for Sensory Self-care;
-Walk barefoot on the grass
-Lay down somewhere comfortable and listen to music with your eyes shut
-Focus on your breathing
-Watch a candle or a fire
-Go to the beach and listen to the waves, feel the sand on your feet and smell the salt in the air
-Enjoy the warmth of the sun
-Hold your pet and enjoy their fur
-Cuddle up inside a soft blanket
Although life may be really fast paced, it’s important to slow down and allow all your emotions to be experienced and acknowledged. Bottling up your feelings can be really unhealthy; by fully engaging with your emotions you will be better equipped mentally during times of stress.
All emotions are good, even sadness and anger. Don’t blame yourself for the emotions you are feeling but remember it is always your choice how you react to an emotion. Accept all your emotions and move on when you are ready.
Ideas for Emotional Self-care:
-Sing along to a song that helps you express your emotions
-Cry; allow yourself to cry if you need to.
-Keep a journal and write about your feelings honestly
-Talk to someone you trust and who understands you. Even seeing a therapist may be helpful.
Spiritual self-care does not necessary mean run out to church and pray so even if you’re not religious, some parts of this section may help you. Spiritual self-care is about understanding your personal values, attitudes, limits and knowing what really matters to you. Try finding a sense of purpose within yourself and see yourself as part of the circle of life.
Ideas for Spiritual Self-care:
-Meditation or mindfulness practices
-List 5-10 things that you are grateful for daily
-Get creative; create art, music, writing or craft.
-Go to a religious ceremony/service
-Reflect on nature and the beauty around you
Physical self-care is very much about being active and doing physical activities which in turn strengthen your mind and body. Some people love going to the gym and find it envigerating but even doing some simple stretches or yoga at home may do a world of good for others. Some people find it best to do physical activities with other people as they get more motivation but if you prefer to be active by yourself, that’s totally fine too.
Physical self-care also means listening to your body such as taking a rest or nap if you really need one and saying “no” to invitations you are too tired to attend. Remember not to push yourself too hard during exercise especially if you are already run down or ill. Getting enough sleep is paramount.
Ideas for Physical Self-care:
-Yoga, pilates, stretches
-Join a sports club/class or do a group sport. Don’t be afraid to learn something new.
-Go for a walk, run or jog
-Cycle around a park
Human’s are social creatures so we need to be around others whether we are introverts or extroverts. Human connections are necessary for happiness and especially mental health as you realize you are apart of something greater within your community and you’re not alone no matter what you are going through. By being around others, you can feel seen and heard which can combat isolation and loneliness. Although the thought of going out and talking to new people may seem daunting, by reaching out to old friends or forming an online community, there are ways around this type of self-care.
Ideas for Social Self-care:
-Make a date with a friend to spend some time together (lunch, a movie, go to the beach, a market or the shops)
-Contact someone who lives far away. This can be done through Skype or an email.
-Join a group with people of a similar interest to you ie. Crafts, exercise, diets or style. You can also join a support group for people who struggle to do the same thing as you.
-Sign up for a class to learn something new and meet new people
-Stop socializing with people who use, undermine or disempower you
There are so many different ways to self care. By finding a type, or a mixture of self-care strategies, you can really improve your mental well being. Even something simple as taking time out to watch a movie or have a bath can really become a highlight of your week. Everyone can find time for self-care; if you are reading this and thinking it’s impossible, you may want to rearrange somethings in your life to fit in time for you. You are just as important as everyone else and your mental and physical wellbeing is equally important to them as well. Even just sitting outside for 5 minutes a day can really help. Go on; give it a go!