When looking after our mental health, it is crucial to make time for ourselves so we can check in with our mind and body and how we’re feeling. Life can often feel so fast paced and full of responsibility, but its so important that we spend time caring for ourselves. Self help can help us to achieve our best and happiest days, but can also help us deal with our lowest days.
A common misperception in today’s society is that people feel obliged prioritise the needs of other people, often loved ones, before the needs of themselves. This doesn’t just mean the actual looking after of other people or giving them care, but even prioritising other people’s happiness over their own.
However, in reality, it is far from selfish to prioritise our own needs and well-being, in fact it is one of the best things we can do. It is widely quoted that ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, and this is such an important concept and analogy when thinking about self care. To be able to be your best and to give your best to others and to all your endeavours, you need to prioritise all the needs within yourself that make this possible.
Again, it’s not selfish to have needs. We are all human beings and we need to replenish ourselves and give to ourselves before we are able to give to others.
Self care refers to taking time to look after yourself, and can be implemented in many different ways, and some of the most popular methods are listed below.
If you’re not used to practising self care, or if it isn’t a big part of your life, it can often seem overwhelming to begin to implement something new into your routine. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to implement it, and methods can be tailored to best suit you.
Here are a few examples of helpful and popular self care methods:
‘Checking in’ with ourselves
Awareness of your own mental health is crucial, and checking in with ourselves and taking time to focus on our mood and how we are feeling can be really useful in improving our mental health. We know our own mind like no one else does, and sometimes taking time to think about how we are feeling can help us spot early warning signs. This can help us recognise that something is not right which can allow us to seek help and support as early as possible.
If you’re looking for a place to start, journaling and writing mood diaries are really useful when building an awareness of our own mental heath. By simply writing down how we are feeling each day, can help us to process and release emotions. Over time you can identify potential triggers and patterns in what makes you feel good, or bad. Even just writing key words or phrases that help to describe how you feel can be a great way of channelling and exploring how you're feeling.
Looking after our physical health
Looking after your physical health involves meeting our fundamental physical human needs through factors like:
Drinking enough water
Getting enough sleep
Keeping physically active (if you’re able to)
Eating healthy food
All the above can help keep your body as physically fit and healthy as possible, which has been proven to help improve mental health.
Communication is key
Talking about our feelings and communicating what is going on in our mind is so important when looking after ourselves and our mental wellbeing. Talking aloud about our emotions and feelings can help us to explore what is really going on in our minds. It then helps us to process and understand our feelings ourselves, and can also help us to receive support and guidance. This can help us to get back on track or can provide reassurance when dealing with issues. Remember we have (Just Me) Mental Health Advisers you can reach out to about any issues, or even if you just want someone to talk to or to listen. You can access this support through out social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), every day.
Doing things that make us happy
Taking time to do things that make you happy is really important when looking after your mental health. This can include hobbies for example cooking, sports or crafts. However, it doesn't have to include hobbies and activities and instead can be as simple as spending time with friends or family, or having a cosy night in. Keeping yourself busy with activities we enjoy can stimulate positive emotions that keep us happy.
It's important that you prioritise these activities, as they are the source of motivation and encouragement, and your happiness is a crucial component of mental health.
There are a range of therapeutic activities that can be seen as self help methods themselves. For example mindfulness techniques such as meditation and relaxation, can allow you to spend quality time with yourself and your mind and can help you process and interpret your thoughts and feelings. There is a useful page on the Just Me website called ‘Therapy Space’, which is an excellent place to start if you’d like to learn more about mindfulness or to try it out.
If you’re able to, going outdoors and getting some fresh air can be a good way of relaxing and changing your mindset. Getting fresh air helps to send more oxygen into your body and into your brain, which has been shown to lower stress and blood pressure. This, along with a change of scenery, can help you feel more relaxed and motivated to tackle whatever your day brings. Going on walks are a great way of implementing this, or if you don’t feel up to this sitting in the garden or an open space is also really useful.
Getting natural sunlight is also brilliant for you mindset, and is especially important if you experience Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Asking for help
The final, and ultimate self care method is not being afraid to reach out for help. Never forget there is always someone you can talk to.
It’s completely normal and okay to need extra help if you feel like you’re experiencing issues and setbacks that you can’t overcome alone. There are endless organisations (including Just Me) and resources designed to support and help people with all aspects of their mental health. You can visit the ‘Contact/Helpline’ section of the Just Me website, and this will take you to the ‘Hub of Hope’ page where you can find access to local services.
There are plenty more ways self care can be implemented in your life, it fundamentally comes down to taking time for yourself and your emotions and through doing what makes you happy.
Self care can be a huge stepping stone in your journey to recovery if you’re suffering from mental illness, or even just to improve your mental wellbeing and strengthen your relationship with yourself.
Remember not to put pressure on yourself when practicing self care, or any of the techniques methods listed above. Although in time they can work wonders and really guide people towards a a place of positive well-being and help them overcome struggles, it is a journey that will take time. The methods are like habits that will develop over time. So don’t feel disheartened if you don’t notice change at first, all good things take time and with consistency and implementing methods into your daily life and routine the benefits will follow.
Rachel Williams Mental Health Adviser