How to advance your Mental Health
Updated: Jul 21, 2019
Focusing on your well-being and committing to a daily self-care plan is not a hippie dippy thing. It is scientifically evidenced that self-criticism, judgment and criticism are detrimental to your Mental Health. They contribute to the development of Anxiety, Depression and Stress.
In all my years as a Psychologist, it is absolutely obvious to me that the best and most reliable antidote to self-doubt and self-rejection and an important aspect of recovery from all Mental Health difficulties is the exact opposite to this. Self-compassion, self-love and self-care.
Do we do it? Do we get this taught at a school? No. Why not? I don't think that we as a society we have yet recognised the consequence of living in the age of the individual. It has become synonymous with being individualistic and somewhere along the way, in our alienation from communal goals and living, we have lost our way in what it is and how important it is to practice self-care.
I am not talking about the egotistical pursuit of status or the narcissistic endeavour to be popular, celebrated or entertained. I am talking about the kind of self-care which feeds your soul, grounds you in your selfhood and helps you feel valid, secure and full of positive energy and potential.
Sadly many struggle to make time for self-care and get caught up in an exhausting rat race. I sometimes fall into this myself and on days like that I like to imagine all the things that stressed me out, keep me away from practicing self-care and in my mind's eye I make them very small and chuck them out the window. This is my little way of liberating myself from the shackles of forgetfullness and frees me to centre myself again in self-compassion and self-care.
Without good self-care we all feel depleted, stressed, we feel we have lost our way, exhausted from running on empty. This in the end is the body's normal response to a rather exhausting attitude. Stop expecting yourself to be some sort of superhuman and think seriously about important it is to look after you and protect your resources. If you don't there is only one place this ends up. A fatigued body and a low spirit and depressed mind.
In this blog, I hope to offer some tips and suggestions to help you commit to self-care everyday. Hence the title. If you recognise what helps you live your days well then that is you practicing self-care. Here goes:
1. Stop using perfection as your measure of success. This is a sure way to depression and meaninglessness.
2. Stop investing all your energy into pleasing others 24, 7. Another sure way to depletion and shut down.
3. Start to monitor how much time you have in your day to put you first. So many of us are juggling work, family, partnerships, housework, elderly parents, friends, kids - the list is long. Somewhere in the busyness of life there has to be time for you. When you monitor this what do you see? Exercise your choice and plan to shift this positively.
4. Identify what nourishes your soul and note it down. Reflect on how much opportunity you have for this.
5. Stop being focused on intellectual pursuits. Yes they matter but you are so much more than just your mind.
6. Identify what blocks are in your way to pursuing self-care and acknowledge how much this is because of you. Now - choose. You well or you depleted? You have a choice .
7. Answer honestly - Are you your biggest fan?
8. If not, why on earth not? There is no option to be someone else, so you might as well enjoy being you and treat you well.
I hope this questions have got you started on your reflective journey into self-care. This really matters. Below you will see some ways in which self -care is practiced by others.
Katy - I love to make sure I have 20 mins every morning before everyone else gets up to enjoy my coffee and enjoy the silence. This time is precious to me.
John - I love riding my bike to work. I would not give it up for anything. Weather doesn't bother me. This is time I enjoy for me.
Helen - I go to my pilates class and this is my thing. It exercises me, gets me out the house, I have chat with the other ladies and it improves my mood.
Serena - I am a big believer in walks outdoors. No matter the weather. I just take the dogs and off we go. I love this. Time to connect with nature.
Jonathan - I swim. Everyday. It is my time to just be. I head to the sea whenever I can. It helps me reduce my stress.
So self-care is your thing. It is an attitude to invest in that which give you hope, fulfilment, a sense of being for you.
It matters. If you are struggling to figure this out, or practice it - book a session with me. I can help you!