Self-care is one of those things that for one reason or another we tend to put off and ignore. Self-care is a crucial part of human functioning that provides us with the tools needed to face our daily challenges. In treatment, self-care almost always gets assessed initially, as it tends to be a driven force in recovery. However, I have noticed that this term has been commonly misinterpreted for selfishness and self-indulgence. It’s important to consider what self-care in the mental health field refers to and why it’s important to implement it in your lifestyle the most effective way.
If you notice that you have trouble engaging in self-care or find it ineffective, try some of these recommendations:
Self-Healing vs. Self-Indulging
Self-healing is productive while self-indulging is counterproductive. It is much more productive for a person to take ten minutes a day to identify anger triggers that he or she experienced throughout the day than to spend an hour at the nail salon. I’m not saying that these behaviors do not help us feel better. By all means, engage in the pleasure that life has to offer and never feel guilty for it. What I’m trying to say is that self-care should always be aimed to enhance your mental and physical health.
In identifying your triggers, you are developing personal insight that will become invaluable to you as you continue to experience stressful events. Here’s a tip, practice deep mindful breathing while getting your nails or hair done.
Be Wary of Pseudo Self-Care
What I mean by pseudo self-care are activities that appear to be self-care but are not. Take for example, shopping. You notice you have experienced a depressed mood for a couple of weeks now and decide to take yourself on a shopping spree.
Again, this probably will provide you with some euphoria and increase your mood for the moment. The problem, however, is that we tend to replace healthy self-care with pseudo self-care. Pseudo self-care can only provide temporary relief because it never actually addresses or explores the root of the depressed mood or other troubling symptom. Try journaling your self-dialogue instead.
Coping skills should always be incorporated
Coping skill is another tern that tends to get thrown around carelessly but is worth taking the time to understand. Self- care is your relationship with yourself and coping skills are the things you do to strengthen that relationship. If you have low self-care with negative coping skills, it is likely you have a weak relationship with yourself. In nurturing that relationship, remember to feed it healthy forms of coping.
Think of Mind, Body, and Soul
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of self-care is always to enhance your mental health. Every part of your body contributes to your overall health and it is difficult to maintain health in one area when another is lacking. In planning your self-care, individually assess your current psychological, physical, and spiritual functioning. To gain lasting effects, get in the habit of regularly assessing and addressing areas of distress. As with any type of healing, you can always add on or delete different forms of personal functioning as it applies to you.
Self-care does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. It is an integral part of our health that will require effort but will always provide you with benefits if done effectively. If you don’t know where to start, try experimenting with these: meditation, intentions list, gratitude exercises, grounding exercises, thought, mood, behaviors check- in, journaling, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and assertiveness exercises.