Self Care and Self Checks
Self care and self checks are incredibly important for everyone, and especially during these current challenging times of lockdown, it has become even more vital to look after your mental and physical well-being.
By using the right self-care techniques, it’s possible to manage the unwanted symptoms associated with many mental health disorders, and also to prevent some issues from worsening or developing in the first place. But what does self care mean and how does it look in practice? Here, we take a look at some self care strategies and self checks that you can put in place, particularly if you’re self-isolating, to help preserve your mental health.
Why Is Self Care So Important?
Most people have heard the term “self care”. Most know that it’s something that’s important. However, many people are unaware of what self care really is, and even if they do know, they don’t seem to be able to find the time to fit it into their busy lives. However, now, many of us have found ourselves under stay at home orders, and so we have all the time in the world to focus on self care and self checks. This is just as well, since there’s never been a time when caring for yourself has been so important.
The current situation is putting a lot of mental strain on all of us. Many of the routines and coping strategies that we usually rely on have now been taken away. That can leave many people struggling to get through the day, especially those with existing mental health problems. Even those who have never had an issue with their mental health before are beginning to suffer from anxiety, stress or even depression. This is why it’s so vital to find ways of caring for ourselves and our own well-being to prevent these feelings and emotions from getting out of control.
Without the right self care strategies in place, you’re at risk of suffering from any or all of the following:
- Low energy
- Less patience
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Physical stress symptoms like stomach aches and headaches
- Urges to binge on comfort food
- Difficulty concentrating
- Strained relationships with your partner or family members
- Low motivation
As you can see, if you neglect self care, it’ll catch up with you eventually. However, just knowing that you need to care for yourself isn’t enough to put it into practice. After all, where do you begin?
What Does Self Care Look Like?
If you were asked about whether you care for yourself, you may answer yes. However, if you actually take the time to think about the ways in which you care for yourself, this is where you might run into difficulties. That’s because many of us have no idea what self care looks like.
Essentially, self care is a term used to refer to any activity we deliberately do to care for our physical, emotional and mental health. While it may seem like a simple concept, it’s something that we often overlook. Self care has to be actively planned, it can’t just happen. You’ll need to make time in your life for self care, and be committed to adding it into your day. Most of all, you have to be aware of self care. If you don’t actively see an activity as self care then it won’t truly work. You need to be aware of your actions, why you’re doing them, the way they feel and, most importantly, the outcomes you experience.
Self care will mean something different to everyone, but there are a few simple things that will apply to virtually everybody. For example:
- Creating a list of things you don’t want to do any more or that make you feel unhappy.
- Committing to eating a healthy and nutritious diet
- Getting sufficient sleep every night
- Taking some exercise or doing some physical activity
- Practising meditation or doing some relaxation exercises
- Spending more time with loved ones
- Consciously choosing to do a minimum of one relaxing activity each day
- Consciously choosing to do a pleasurable activity each day that makes you feel positive
- Looking actively for opportunities to laugh every day
How Can I Introduce Self Care Into My Life?
Even when you know that self care and self checks are so important, knowing how to introduce it into your life can be difficult. Yet, there are lots of things you can do to gradually include self care techniques into your everyday routine. Here, we take a closer look at some of them.
Staying Aware Of Your Mental Well-Being
Being aware of your mental state is the first step towards caring for yourself. Spotting the early signs that you might be struggling emotionally or mentally is key. This is especially important if you’ve had a previous mental health problem or are trying to overcome one at the moment. Tell your family and friends if you’re finding it hard to cope and let them know how they could support you, even if it’s something as simple as just sitting and listening to you talk. Also, be aware of your triggers so that you can either avoid them or, if they’re unavoidable, devise a coping strategy so you can manage them. You may find it help to keep a diary to track your moods. This will help you to identify what is making you feel worse or better, and then you can take steps to prepare for, change or avoid difficult situations.
Build Up Your Self-Esteem
Poor self-esteem leads to low mood, and low mood leads to even lower self-esteem – it’s a vicious cycle.
However, if you take some steps to boost your self-esteem you’ll feel more confident and better able to cope. Try to get to know yourself better. Find out what makes you feel happy and identify the things that you value most in life. Allow yourself to have feelings and emotions without judging yourself harshly and take another look at what self-esteem really means. Are you basing your feelings of self-worth on thing that just aren’t helpful or useful?
Focus on being the sort of person that you want to be so you can feel pride in yourself. You probably often have unkind thoughts about yourself. You need to challenge those. If you put yourself down automatically, try to think objectively about it. Is it something you would say about a friend or loved one? If not, then don’t say it about yourself. Don’t compare yourself with other people – remember that you aren’t seeing the true picture of their lives, so comparing yourself to them isn’t realistic.
Finally, say repeat positive affirmations to yourself. While it feels strange at first, you’ll become more comfortable with it, and soon you’ll begin to believe the positive things you say about yourself.
Strengthen Connections With Others
Having a strong connection to others is important, especially if you lack self-confidence and self-worth. If you’re in self-isolation, it can be especially difficult to strengthen those relationships, but there are still ways that you can connect with family and friends.
Phone calls, texts, instant messages, and Facetime conversations can still go a long way towards making a big difference in your mental health. If you feel that you have no family or friends to support you, you can make connections in other ways. Joining a group or going to a community event could help you forge new friendships, but if you’re in lockdown, those avenues are closed to you. Luckily, there are online groups that you can participate in to help you feel more connected.
Getting Support From Others
Whether you are currently struggling with a mental health disorder or are in recovery, it can often feel as if nobody understands what you’re going through. Getting support from other people in the same situation can help a lot. Peer support can bring together those who have had similar experiences so that they can support each other. Although there are physical peer support groups out there that meet on a regular basis, if you’re stuck in self-isolation, the internet can hold all the answers with peer support groups on line that will offer you the same benefits of feeling accepted, boosting your self-confidence and finding more information about ways to cope.
If you’re really struggling with your mental well-being, you can get professional advice from one of the many support groups that have websites and phone lines for you to contact. Even in lockdown, these specialist organizations will respond to you and offer you the help and support that you need.
Introducing Therapeutic Activities Into Your Life
Self care is all about looking after yourself and intentionally adding activities that make you feel positive into your life. There are many therapies and techniques that can safely be practiced at home including:
- Relaxation techniques – you might know already what makes you feel relaxed. It may be listening to some calming music, taking a bubble bath, or unwinding in a hot shower. Whatever makes you feel relaxed, set aside enough time to not only do it, but also to really enjoy it.
- Practice mindfulness – this therapeutic technique involves you becoming aware of the moment that you’re in. This means outside your body and also inside it. You must become aware of the things you can hear, see, smell, feel and think. If you practice mindfulness regularly, you’ll become aware of your reactions and moods, and may be better able to ground yourself if you’re becoming anxious and panicky.
- Getting outdoors – this is something that may be difficult during lockdown. If you are permitted to leave the house for exercise, going for a walk in the park or in the countryside can be extremely beneficial to your mental well-being. If you cannot go out, but have a yard or other outdoor space, try to spend a little time out there every day. If you have no access to the outdoors, having plants inside your home can help to bring the outdoors indoors and make you feel more connected with nature, something that will help you feel more positive.
Care For Your Physical Health
Caring for your physical health is an essential part of self care. Looking after physical well-being helps you to manage your mental well-being too. How can you help your physical health? Here are some ways:
- Get more sleep – rest whenever you can. This is something that you can almost certainly find time for in lockdown and it will give you enough energy to handle any difficult emotions and feelings.
- Stay physically active – it can be difficult to stay active when you’re stuck at home all day every day. If you can go outdoors or have an outdoor space, you can head out for a walk or jog, but even if you don’t you can work out at home. Yoga or pilates are just two forms of exercise you can take in your own living room, and there are lots of free videos on YouTube that are suitable for all levels of experience.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs – trying to cope with challenging emotions and feelings may make you tempted to turn to alcohol or drugs. However, in the long-term, they’ll only make you feel worse. Try to avoid these substances or keep your use to a minimum. If you’re struggling to reduce your consumption you should seek professional support to help you quit.
- Make enough time for your personal care – if you’re finding it difficult to cope mentally, your personal care may end up taking a back seat. This is especially likely to happen if you’re self-isolating and you don’t need to go out. However tempting it may be to avoid showering, getting dressed or brushing your hair, make sure you take the time to do all these things. It’ll make a positive difference to the way you feel about yourself.
- Eating healthy food – when and what you eat can have an impact on your mental well-being. Make sure you plan healthy balanced meals and stick to them, eating at regular times to maintain your energy levels. Avoid fatty and sugary snacks as they will only make you feel worse and can cause your sugar levels to fluctuate dramatically, impacting negatively on your mental health.
Care For Yourself For Better Mental Well-Being
Self care and self checks are vital if you’re going to enjoy good mental health, especially in today’s challenging situation. Although the tips and advice provided here should help you to care for yourself more effectively, if you’re really struggling to cope you should give us a call. Here at The Meadowglade, can give you professional advice and offer you the support that you need to get through these trying times.