Mental Health And Self Care
By Nicole Lomeli, LMFT
Camino a Casa Clinician II and PHP/IOP Coordinator
As part of Mental Health Month, we want to focus on self-care and what we can do to help ourselves and our loved ones be more mindful of how self-care impacts our wellbeing. What is self-care? Self-care is paying attention to your own emotions and thoughts and how they affect your wellbeing. The word self-care can mean something different to different people. For extroverted people, being in a social setting or around others can help meet their emotional needs. Those who are introverted may enjoy a more solitary activity like going for a walk with a close friend, reading a book, listening to music, or going to the gym. Sometimes even something as mundane as cleaning the house can be a method of self-care for someone.
To have self-care you need to have awareness of your physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. When you become aware of your own needs you can start to understand how some situations can be a trigger or make things worse for you. When these situations arise it helps to find out what works for you in the certain situations. As you practice self-care you will be able to reduce stress and help create a healthier wellbeing. Keep in mind what works for you may not work for someone else. A day of pampering may seem nice to you, but for someone else it may create more stress and anxiety. So, when trying to help others with their self-care be mindful of their situations as well as help them become aware of their own wellbeing.
Quick ways to practice self-care:
- Take a quick mental survey of your body. While breathing deeply, scan your whole body, releasing tension as you find it. Check your posture and adjust as necessary. It only takes a few seconds but can provide an immediate change.
- Accumulate positive emotions.
- Practice healthy sleep habits and listen to your body’s needs. Going to bed at an earlier time, ensuring that your bedroom is comfortable and quiet, and practicing good screen-time habits before bed can help you enjoy a more restful sleep.
- Take care of your health needs. Schedule appointments with your doctor for regular checkups, stay on top of your medications, therapy appointments, chiropractic adjustments, or any other care you require to maintain your physical health.
- Exercise! Get outside, move your body – even a quick afternoon walk can boost your mood and energy!
- Practice healthy eating habits. Eating regularly can help you to feel better, even if you can’t manage a nutrition-packed, home-cooked meal. Eating healthily is a great form of self-care, but so is simply making sure you eat something throughout the day.
- Set aside time to talk with your therapist or a trusted friend, read, reflect, journal, or otherwise engage with your thoughts. Self-awareness is an important part of self-care, so don’t neglect your emotions.
Many people find it difficult to focus on self-care when it is most needed. Feelings of hopelessness or guilt for indulging in something pleasurable, fatigue, pain, limited mobility, and other factors may get in the way of prioritizing self-care. People are quick to parrot the benefits of self-care for depression, anxiety, and other mental or physical illnesses, but don’t recognize the amount of labor self-care can require, nor the struggles of people who are trying to provide self-care while also living with their symptoms.
Make time for self-care. It’s important – even 30 minutes a day doing something that provides self-care can make a difference in your mood and energy levels. When we care for ourselves, we can better care for those around us.