This article is a contributed post by Brad Krause, writer and owner of SelfCaring.info. You know I’m a huge fan of creating mental health awareness and advocating self-care. Be sure to check it out!
The term “self-care” has become a buzzword these days, yet many of us think it’s all about luxurious time spent pampering ourselves. Pampering is absolutely an example of self-care, but it can also be as simple as taking care of our basic needs like getting enough sleep, relaxing, and reducing stress. Many of us overlook these needs, but making them a priority is essential for good health.
Why Basic Self-Care?
When you break down the term self-care, it’s really just about caring for yourself. It may seem crazy to think that we need to remind ourselves to care for our basic physical and emotional needs, but the reality is that the way we live today is so often focused on doing and giving. Our modern way of life doesn’t prioritize caring for our own needs.
This is a problem all around because putting ourselves last harms us in more ways than one. Disregarding our basic needs sends a mental message that we, as individuals, don’t have value. This harmful message lowers confidence and self-esteem, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. This doesn’t mean that self-care is about trying to be happy all the time, but when you take care of yourself, you’re better able to handle the ups and downs in life. Neglecting basic needs also depletes our energy, making us less effective at all those tasks we throw ourselves into. We simply don’t have anything left to give, whether that’s caring for our loved ones or performing our jobs, if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
Basic Self-Care Needs That Improve Mental Health
Basic physical self-care means getting enough sleep, eating regular healthy meals, and being active. Many of us fall into a negative cycle of letting these needs slide first when we’re busy and stressed, but this leaves you feeling sluggish or tense and heightens stress even more. Break this cycle by taking the time for these physical needs. Make sleep a priority and take just a few minutes each day to be active. HealthyPlace.com recommends taking 5-10 minutes to stretch or going for a short walk or run.
Take Time to Relax
When we get caught up in the busyness of daily life, we tend to get high-strung, often without even realizing it. Find simple things that help you relax and do them daily. Take a hot shower or relax in the bath, and try meditation to clear your mind or journaling to get your thoughts out of a jumble in your head.
Relaxing is one way to reduce stress, but doing something uplifting helps, too. The Huffington Post suggests planning a fun activity that you can look forward to. Another great strategy for reducing stress is recognizing what you need to feel more uplifted. If you’re around other people constantly, you may need to prioritize alone-time. If you aren’t around people much, connecting with a friend may be what you need to lower stress.
Lowering stress is also a critical part of managing mental health for those who are in addiction recovery. Managing your environment is a key strategy for reducing stressors and triggers when you’re in recovery because the places where you go and the people in your life have a strong impact on your stress level. Avoiding people and places that are negative influences removes the risk of them causing you stress and triggering a relapse.
Learn to Stay “No”
When you agree to do too much, it adds to your stress by squeezing your time, and it affects mental health by making you feel resentful and critical of yourself. Learning to say “no” is an act of self-care that may seem simple but is a powerful way of promoting your overall well-being.
When we get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to forget that basic self-care is the foundation that’s necessary for everything we do. Not taking care of yourself leaves you emotionally and physically drained. Don’t wait for a breakdown to realize you need self-care! Prevent the breakdown by making self-care a priority every day.
Photo credit: Pexels