- Guest post courtesy of Brad Krause at http://selfcaring.info/
Although many people think of self-care as bubble baths, drinking wine, and eating chocolate, these are often things people turn to when self-care has been neglected. Self-care generally embraces any activities done to take care of the body, mind, or spirit. While ingesting certain things, or soaking in a hot bath might pass muster, there are more basic things you can do to enhance both physical and mental health.
Stress management includes a wide range of behaviors designed to help you respond in positive ways to the inevitable stresses that life brings. It might include contemplative practices, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, and prayer. It could include assertiveness training, journaling, or therapy. Improving your personal relationships can also help to manage stress, as can developing time management and problem solving skills. Learning to say no to tasks and activities that leave you overloaded is important.
Take care of your body
Taking care of your body also benefits your mental and emotional well being. Getting adequate sleep, exercise, and good nutrition can boost your attitude, energy levels, mental health, and sense of well-being. Notice what you do to calm yourself. Does it always involve alcohol or some other substance? If so, you might consider going for a brisk walk before you ingest a substance to fix the problem. A calming herbal tea might do the trick with fewer calories, side effects, and demands on your liver. There is no substitute for getting enough sleep, and if this doesn’t seem possible due to time constraints, then it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. If falling asleep is a problem, you might consider taking a calming amino acid, such as glycine, which is a substance your body produces. Be sure to check with your doctor before adding any supplement or medication to your routine.
Make effort to look your best
Looking good can boost your confidence and well-being. You might invest in some comfortable and attractive clothing that you can look and feel fantastic wearing. Athleisure or loungewear, such as leggings, robes, or light jackets, can be worn around the house, as well as while running errands or working out. If you have issues with veins, are pregnant, or have recently given birth, consider some support leggings for comfort as well as style. Remember that no matter how attractive a garment might be, if you don’t feel good wearing it, then it’s not going to be a good investment.
Address your financial well-being
Keeping your finances on track is a critical part of self-care. Saving money can help you feel prepared to meet unexpected adversity, like a weather disaster or an expensive health issue. You can save by taking your lunch to work with you, rather than eating out. If this isn’t possible every day, try doing it once or twice a week. When you need a special occasion outfit, consider shopping at thrift stores or online sites that recycle clothing for a good price. You could open a savings account and specify that a certain percentage of your paycheck goes into savings each month. Refinancing your home can often get you a lower interest rate, reducing your monthly payment. If you’re in debt, try to pay that down as quickly as possible. Less financial worry can help with anxiety.
Focus on good nutrition
The foods we eat have a huge impact on how we feel, affecting energy levels, ability to focus, and even sleep. Changes to your eating habits are best made gradually. Rather than forcing yourself to exist off salads and water (an unsustainable change), you could begin by having a piece of fruit each afternoon when your energy lags. Dry roasted nuts are also a healthy snack that can boost your energy as well as provide needed vitamins and minerals. Try substituting healthier foods rather than going cold turkey and giving up your usual treats.
There are so many ways self-care can enhance your mental health, by reducing anxiety and depression, managing stress more effectively, boosting your energy, alertness, and confidence, and clarifying your priorities. Whatever approaches you decide to pursue, begin the changes gradually, and it’s more likely you will stick with the new activities long enough to reap some benefits.
If you’re interested in how others with mental health issues meet the challenges of life, Farmerish.org, written by a woman living with bipolar disorder who has pursued motherhood, marriage, a teaching career, and running a farm.