Have you ever heard the term “self-care?” It is a term that you hear in the media, when you are reading, or listening to a podcast or talking to your therapist. Self-care is a crucial part of managing mental illness, but it can be so easily forgotten about., especially whe we are in the midst of a mental upset. So how do you go about practicing self-care? It can be difficult to get started. Some of us even feel like we don’t “deserve” down time, but that is not the case. It’s easy to read a list in a magazine article and say, “ok great ideas, but unrealistic for me.” I know that I don’t have a luxurious bath arrangement where I can put candles around and relax. I know when my kids were younger it was all I could do to get 10 minutes alone in my room – taking a walk alone in a park was not realistic with 4 little ones at home. Read a book? Usually when I need self-care, my mind is so filled with “stuff” that the last thing I can do is sit down and concentrate on a book. Have you ever felt these things? Those lists of self care can be awfully daunting (and depressing).
The KEY is to make YOUR OWN list!! Find what works for YOU!
Making a self-care list that works for you is so important. When your stress is high and your patience is low, taking a look at that list and picking a couple of ideas to bring your SELF back to a place of calm is wonderful. With time you might be able to just look at your list and feel a bit more peace.
Another piece of your self-care list is to make it fun, or beautiful or interesting to look at. If you are artistic or not, you can make a list worth looking at. The more you WANT to look at it, the more you can sort out the ideas in your busy mind and find a self-care item that can work for you – in that very moment. Having a selection of self care activities is also important. If painting your nails makes you feel better but you are at work, you may need something that works at work!!
Keep your list everywhere! On your mirror, in your phone, on a file of your computer, on your bedside stand. Keep that list in places that you can easily access it. When you are feeling stressed or just don’t think you can cope in that moment, have that list where you can look at it and pick what may be right for you for right now. It’s amazing when you come up with your own stress reducers your success in self-care and self-calm is so much higher.
Here are a few of things on my list. I know when I engace in certain calming activities that I am trying to shake my brain into a new mode of thinking as quickly as I can. I think of all of my senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch and smell) and what may work best if I am stressed:
- I love those little strawberry candies that are wrapped in red foil to look like a strawberry. Do you know the ones I mean? I keep them at work all of the time so I can suck on them and have a little mental break if I need one. The sweet taste and sugar sensation can bring me to a happier moment.
- Going outside is always a good choice for me. I don’t necessarily have to walk anywhere or do anything special, just getting outside, no matter the weather, taking some long deep breaths and finding some Calm
- Play with my dogs. For those of you with pets, you know how great o\pet therapy can be. Getting a few treats and playing with my dogs or maybe relaxing with my cat next to me is very healing.
- Writing – writing can calm me – be it for this blog, for myself or just getting out “blech” from my brain to paper. I used to only write in black composition books, but I have come more adept at writing or typing whenever I need do. It is very brain cleansing.
How do you practice self-care? Again, above anything I can say is MAKE YOUR OWN LIST! You know what is good for YOU. There are tons of websites with self care ideas. Check them out and find what works and write it down. Seeing a huge list of someone else’s ideas can be stressful in itself when you are having a tough moment.
Let me know your self-care ideas!
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