Self-care is a word which is often thrown around and away. Nevertheless it is truly important in everyone’s daily life, whether you are someone who is managing a mental health condition, coping with life’s daily stresses, acting as a parent or caretaker, or you’re dealing with any number of things that are too inexhaustible to list. Managing your mental health can take many tools. Self-care is just one of them. So here are a few ideas to add this tool to your daily or weekly routine.
1) Often when I here self-care being talked about, it’s attached to a moderate- to high-cost activity. Though going on vacation or treating yourself to a massage or a spa day can be a lovely way of caring for yourself, general self-care doesn’t need to be that expensive. Inexpensive ways of managing anxiety, depression and/or stress could include walking, practicing yoga off a YouTube video, exercising, watching hilarious videos of cats or heart-swelling baby sloths, reading a good book, doing a crossword, Sudoku or word search, coloring in a coloring book, or listening to music or podcasts. Moderately priced activities could include picking up a hobby like crocheting, joining a sports or activities group, taking a dance or yoga class, playing video games, going to a movie, or treating yourself to a good meal.
2) I’m a big fan of physical activities as a way to manage your mood. Most folks say they feel many of their stressors melting away after a good bout of exercise. But I realize not everyone is into exercise or even group activities. If that sounds like you, try doing meditation, visualization, or gentle yoga in the privacy of your own home. There are many fantastic apps available now to walk you through each step. One of my favorite meditation apps is Stop, Breath & Think, and it’s absolutely free! You might also try doing breathing exercises or successive muscle relaxation exercises.
3) One last tip: learn to say no. Many of us take on far more than we can handle. This could be due to a fear of what people would think if you said no or a true desire to help out, even at your own expense. If saying no is hard for you, check out the image below--it suggests many usable and graceful ways to say no.
There are many lessons drilled into therapists while we are in training. One of the major ones is that you can’t take care of others if you haven’t taken care of yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you don’t have time for self-care! If you don’t make the time for it now, you may end up making up for it later.