Every bit as important as physical and emotional self care, mental self care focuses on your overall mental health and well-being. It is about learning how to manage your thoughts, seeking help when it is needed, engaging your brain, and setting clear boundaries. It is also not ignoring your limitations and mental health issues that may be preventing you from living your best life. It is about taking care of yourself in a way that balances your mind, body, and soul.
What does mental self care entail and why is it so important? Let’s take a closer look…
Understanding Mental Self Care
Your mental health is every bit as important as your emotional and physical health. When it is ignored or not maintained, you have a far greater risk of increased stress and anxiety. Unchecked depression and anxiety can very quickly lead to burnout and feelings of hopelessness – both of which pose a very real danger.
There are a few ways that you can ensure that you stay in balance. Some of the simplest ways include the following:
Process your thoughts.
One of the most important strategies is to process your thoughts. That does not mean analysing every single thought that pops into your brain. It definitely does not mean blocking thoughts, either. What it does mean is stopping to process the things that go through your mind.
Are you constantly thinking about the worst-case scenario? Are you finding yourself caught in a negativity cycle? Are you treating yourself with impatience, anger, shame, guilt or unkindness? Are you berating yourself for thinking your thoughts? Learning how to gently process and shift your thoughts can take time. It can make a very real difference to your outlook, however.
Another important strategy is to set clear boundaries. Saying no is never easy, especially if you are a people pleaser like me. It took me a long time to say no to projects I didn’t want to do, engagements I did not feel up to keeping, outings I could not attend, and anything else that I did not feel up to doing.
It was harder when I was in a space that I really needed to set boundaries. Once I started to say not, it got easier. Now, I am able to say no without making endless excuses to justify myself.
Engage your mind.
Engaging the mind is also essential. All too often, we get caught up in our day to day lives, going through the motions without stopping to think beyond what we have to do on any given day. Stopping to do things that exercise the mind is a good way to take a break. It is also a great way to find a bit of mindfulness at the same time.
Some of the ways that you can engage the mind could be reading, puzzles, learning new skills, mobile games that require some thinking (mahjong is my current favourite) or anything else that helps you exercise your mind.
Learn to seek help.
Finally, never underestimate the importance of getting help. This is particularly important if you are dealing with anxiety, stress, depression or any other issue that could greatly impact your health. While alternative healing is helpful for many things, they cannot replace medical help in the case of serious conditions that require medication and therapy.
Speak to your GP, find a good therapist, look at medication options if these are needed, allow friends and family to be there for you, and try your best to take that step at getting help. I know all too well how hard that step can seem. Your health is the single most essential thing in your life. Do not risk it by not getting help.
Make sure that you start to put your health first by practicing these mental health care strategies on a regular basis.