Five Ways to Practice Self-Care

I keep mentioning the importance of self care in my blog posts. But what is self care? What self care activities do I do? Do they work? What do you need? How do you start? In the next few blog posts, I will answer all those questions. However, it is important to note that what might work for me, might not work for you. Also, it may take time to see improvements.

So let’s start!

What is Self-Care?

“Self-care is taking the time to care for yourself in whatever ways work best for you.” It is very important to your mental and emotional wellbeing.[1] It can also improve relationships, thinking, productivity, work/school experiences and motivation.

Five Self-Care Activities 

Take prescribed medication

  • Taking medication for an mental illness can help balance the chemicals in your brain
  • It can help you sleep better, improve your health, help improve your relationships, improve your work/school performance, improve your thinking and memory, help boost your mood and energy, and help you live a better lifestyle.[2]

I used to hate the idea of being on medication. I used to go days “forgetting” to take them. It wasn’t until I hit one of my rock bottoms while trying to go without them when I realized how much I needed them. I’ve been taking them daily ever since (unless I actually forget).

Refrain from alcohol/drugs

  • Sobriety leads to healthier relationships, better coping skills, better overall health, more self-respect and confidence, better finances, and better work life.[3]

I never know what to expect when I drink. I can become fun and silly or emotional and breakdown/have a psychotic episode. Therefore, I’m really careful when I drink, if at all. If I’m feeling anxious or depressed beforehand, it’s a risk and I normally don’t take it.

Counselling

  • People who go to counselling often gain: personal empowerment, hope, the overcoming of demoralization caused by social stigma, acceptance of life, personal insight, life skills, wellness, and prevention of future mental health distress.[4]

I’ve been going to counselling since grade 10. I saw my high school counsellor before getting referred to an outside counsellor. It’s scary but once I got used to it, it was worth it. When I went to college, I saw the counsellors there. I almost always leave with weight lifted off my shoulders. It feels good to talk about stuff and speak my mind with confidentiality and no judgement while also getting professional opinion/advice.

Exercise

  • Exercise promotes all kinds of changes in the brain.
  • It releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. It also relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being.
  • Exercise can serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative and anxious thoughts.
  • Research shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent someone from relapsing.
  • It can also boost self-esteem.[5]

I started working out about two years ago and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I love it. It improves my mental health and gets me more motivated. When I’m working out, I’m usually off my phone and not thinking about anything but instead, focusing on what I’m doing and my breathing. It releases stress, frustration and helps me think more clearly. It also makes me feel more confident.

Meditation

  • Meditation is a quick technique to relieve anxiety and stress.
  • Other benefits include a boost in compassion and emotional stability.[6]

I don’t meditate as much as I should or want to but it helps me calm my thoughts by focusing on the music, sounds, words. During the beginning of the summer, I had a really hard time sleeping and lots of anxiety at night. I found a guided meditation on YouTube and I listened to it every night during that month or two. I slowly got into a relaxed state and fell asleep.


References

[1] Get Help For Yourself: Self-Care. (n.d.). National Domestic Violence Hotline & Break the Cycle. Retrieved from http://www.loveisrespect.org/for-yourself/self-care/

[2] Goldberg, J. (2015). You Can Start Feeling Better: 8 Important Things to Do About Depression. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/depression/treating-depression-9/slideshow-10-benefits

[3] Benefits of Sobriety. (2013). Your First Step. Retrieved from http://yourfirststep.org/benefits-of-sobriety/

[4] Mental Health Counseling: How it Works, Benefits. (n.d.). HEALTHYPLACE. Retrieved from http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/mental-health-counseling-how-it-works-benefits/

[5] Robinson, L., Segal, S., & Smith, M. (2016). The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise. HELPGUIDE.ORG. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/exercise-fitness/emotional-benefits-of-exercise.htm

[6] Duron, A. (2015). 25 Science-Backed Ways to Change Your Life by Taking Better Care of Yourself. Greatist. Retrieved from http://greatist.com/happiness/ways-to-practice-self-care

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