Self Care. Everyone is throwing this phrase around now. First it was mental health, now it’s self care. But what IS self care? Why do we need to bother with it? Where has it come from? In this article I will answer all this and more.
The Definition of Self Care
As always, I like to start these articles with a dictionary definition. In this case, self care is defined as follows:
The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
As I have already touched upon, everyone has been talking about raising awareness about mental health. I love this! As someone who has for a long time now had to work on looking after her mental health, it is great to finally see people being more confident and open about how these conditions affect people.
But now we all know that these conditions exist, how do we keep ourselves mentally healthy? Can we prevent any of them occurring?
Well these are good questions. And whilst current medicine cannot guarantee you won’t get dementia if you do your sudoku everyday, a lot of people have certainly seen the benefit of practicing self care.
The key to self care is being self AWARE! You need to be able to recognise the warning signs your brain and body is sending you so that you can prevent your mental health from worsening. This can be tricky, as I’m sure you can imagine. It can take a very long time to identify the warning signs, and then you have to figure out what is going to work for you. It’s can feel like a pointless endeavour if you don’t already struggle with your mental health. You have to think of it as investing time, in order to safeguard your health and wellbeing in the long run.
So How DO You Identify The Warning Signs?
One of the simplest ways is to keep a mood journal. For those of you who haven’t done this before, it is basically a method of tracking your mood each day, and reflecting on what made you feel that way. Some people use a scale of faces, some use a numerical scale. It doesn’t really matter which you use, you just need to keep it long enough to start seeing a pattern. You can then see what the triggers might be which cause negative feelings.
Once you have done this, you can then start the more enjoyable part of the process. This is to explore different activities associated with self care which help you relax and feel more able to cope with the triggers you may have to face.
Isn’t it Selfish?
The important thing to note is that self care IS NOT selfish. one of the biggest reasons it isn’t done enough is because we feel like we should be worrying about others instead of ourselves. It’s no surprise we’re feeling more and more stressed and anxious when we spend less and less time taking care of ourselves.
So my homework for you this week is to put some time aside for yourself. Do something you enjoy and most of all, relax!