Mental Health Matters: Self-Care Tips
Self-care is a hot topic, and everyone seems to have an opinion! Lately, I have heard of being criticized for engaging in self-care and people feeling guilty when expressing a desire to dedicate time to their self-care. Taking care of your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Not attending to self-care can result in illness, burnout, increased stress, irritability, fatigue, exhaustion, strained relationships, concentration problems, and other difficulties. At the core of self-care is a belief that you know yourself better than anyone else, and you should deeply care for your needs. Self-care is about nurturing your body and soul in small and big ways. Katie Reed eloquently stated, “Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.”
Self-care is not a single task where once you do it, you’ve checked the box, and it is done. Conversely, engaging in self-care is an ongoing commitment. There might be times when you spend more time practicing self-care and times where you may not have the capacity to engage fully. I like to think of self-care in terms of things I want to work on and be mindful of practicing each day if possible. Every person’s self-care plan and journey are unique and reflect your individuality.
Here are some helpful self-care tips. The list is not exhaustive, nor could it ever be! I hope these ideas inspire you to care for your needs and provide you comfort, rest, peace, and joy!
Physical: Take time to get the sleep and rest you need. Exercise and movement help you stay resilient and flexible. Eating healthy and drinking enough water every day can make a real difference in how you feel every day.
Emotional: Allowing yourself to experience all feelings and reminding yourself that emotions are not good or bad. Feelings help us understand ourselves and our environment. Make conscious decisions to work in areas of your life where you have experienced emotional pain. Seek professional support when you need help with mental health concerns. Allow yourself time and grace to grieve the wounds and losses in your life. Extend compassion and forgiveness to yourself.
Social: Spend time with the people you enjoy and support your values. Develop emotional connections with others. Set boundaries with others regarding your time. “All work and no play” is a habit you want to monitor.
Spiritual: Turn off the noise and distractions of modern life and spend time alone in quiet ways. Practice mindfulness exercises. Spend time in nature. Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Dedicate time for prayer and meditation. Take time to read and reflect on writings that feed your soul. Live a life based on choice and meaning.
Caring for yourself is not only a gift to you but a gift to others. Mental health matters to you and me!
Dr. Skillestad Winans retired from the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, after 24 years of service, where she served as the Chief of Psychology Services. She is currently an Associate Professor at Northwest University and a Clinical Supervisor at the University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. The information in this article does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship, assumes no professional or legal liability, and does not represent the views of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Northwest University, or the University of Washington.