Self-care is one of those buzz words often thrown around when discussing mental health but unlike other buzz words, self-care is one worth taking note of and including in your overall wellbeing plan.
SANE Australia lists self-care as “any intentional actions you can take towards caring for your own physical, mental and emotional health”.
It is also part of your holistic wellbeing that enables you to meet personal and professional commitments, and it’s not exclusively for people living with a mental illness.
Self-care can also benefit friends and family members of those who are perhaps suffering a mental illness, or those who have poor mental health themselves.
It may be adult colouring books, joining a running group or cooking delicious meals for yourself. In short, self-care is about looking after you!
We’ve put together a handful of ideas to help you level up your current self-care toolkit. Remember, below is only a guide. What works for one person, may not work for another.
Trial and error is all part of the process!
1. Lace up the running shoes
We’ve said it time and time again – exercise is so good for your mental health!
Mindhealthconnect reports that exercise stimulates chemicals that improve your mood and the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory and learning. Regular exercise can also help reduce stress levels and improve sleep.
We know it can be difficult to stay motivated when struggling with your mental health. Don’t force yourself to go to the gym and lift weights if you feel calmer going for walks in nature or attending a yoga class.
You’ll be more inclined to make exercise a daily habit if you choose an activity that you enjoy.
2. Get creative with pencils and paint
Have you ever experienced the calming reaction the comes from intently focusing on creating something artistic? Maybe you find adult colouring books soothing?
Art therapy is proven to help people cope with difficulties and stress. It helps you focus, relax and express yourself and your inner experiences.
There is no limitation to what form of art you do. Possibilities include painting, scrapbooking, creating inspirational vision boards from magazine clippings or learning to sew.
You could even grab yourself a cheap chair from Ikea and use this as your canvas to paint. The point is to get creative, express yourself, and create art for art’s sake.
As Healthy WA state, art therapy is about focusing on the process and not the final product. You don’t need to be the next Picasso to benefit.
3. Share random acts of kindness
From the outset you may be wondering how kindness can fit into your self-care toolkit.
Research from Yale University has found that altruism in the form of helping others can provide a significant increase to one’s mental health by boosting the participants daily wellbeing.
It’s said that giving or helping others can help you find a sense of purpose, make you feel happier and more satisfied about life. Related evidence also shows that gift-giving behaviours secrete feel good chemicals into our brains which has been referred to as “helper’s high”.
So, when we help others we can also help ourselves!
You don’t need to aim big for this one. Smile at strangers during your daily commute, compliment a co-worker, or tell someone close to you that you appreciate them. Simply, be kind.
What tools do you have in your self-care toolkit?