Mental health has always been a somewhat taboo topic. It entails sensitive subject matter that most people don't want to be open about with enough negative connotations to make anyone want to go run and hide. But in the midst of a global pandemic, our mental health is certainly getting tested. Being stuck at home, watching the unsettling news reports and hearing the scary statistics is enough to give anyone anxiety. The lack of social interaction and human touch is bound to cause some depression. Now, as the world begins to inch back to normal, ripping those masks off will cause a different but equally significant kind of anxiety. Suddenly mental health challenges are knocking at our front door...running and hiding is no longer an option.
Once upon a time, mental health issues were identified as severe chemical imbalances and disorders, but in reality our mental health can be affected by feeling stressed, nervous and even down in the dumps some days. Recognizing and accepting that some days we are just not going to be at our best is actually "okay", and moves us one step closer to improving our mental health. Simple measures that you can take each day will help you steer clear of these feelings or at the very least, teach you how to get through them.
Many of us have endless responsibilities in life that we often forget to take care of ourselves. While it is hard to prioritize when you have an unending to-do list, self care is an integral aspect in maintaining your mental health. Self care relies on increased self awareness, which can benefit anyone who may be feeling a dip in their mental health. Simply put, self care is providing adequate attention to your own psychological and emotional well being and taking a step back from making sure everyone else is at the top of their game...if only for a moment.
Your personal brand of self care will depend on what works best for your personality, what you enjoy and what you can handle in regards to energy level. For some, just getting together with friends and socializing is enough to feel a spike in your mental health; while others may need some alone time with a bubble bath and facial mask. Some people need exercise, and of course there are people that benefit from a therapy session with a professional. It all depends on what suits you, and there is no shame in what you decide.
While self care might be a current internet trend right now, the bottom line is that it isn't always about girls' weekends and scented candles. Practicing self care is actually good for your mental health. In fact, statistics say that one in four people are affected by mental illness such as anxiety and depression. Paying attention to your needs and improving your well being can drastically help reduce the risk of becoming a statistic. Although it may take some time to recognize the benefits of self care, here is a sneak peak of what will start to happen once you do.
Boosts Confidence and Self Worth
Some of us were brought up with the idea that you always put others before yourself. While that is a noble characteristic, it is also self depleting. If you grew up thinking this, you may look at self care as a selfish act since it entails spending time on yourself. However research shows us that it is actually quite the contrary. Practicing self care and understanding your self worth will help boost your confidence. How can you care for other people if you are too burnt out from neglecting yourself? Putting yourself and your health (mental and physical) first, is something that goes beyond just helping yourself, anyone that may rely on you will benefit too. And when you know and understand your worth...magic can happen!
Encourages Self Improvement
Self care is primarily about loving and caring for yourself. After all, if you really care about something, you innately want to take care of it and make it better. Learning how to put yourself first isn’t always a straightforward and easy path, so showing yourself some love and compassion along the way can help give you the boost you need. One of the easiest ways to work toward self improvement is learning that it is okay to say “no” at work and in your personal life if your plate is too full.
When your mental health is being tested, you can become prone to lack of motivation. Depression and anxiety can lead to feeling burned out which in turn makes it hard to concentrate on what needs to be accomplished. Self care will give you methods to help you work through this stress and anxiety, something as simple as taking five minutes and breathing can help. A clear and sharp mind is the best environment for productivity.
'Simple Self Care Tips for Mental Health'
While compassion and caring are wonderful traits to have, too little self care will leave us emotionally depleted, exhausted and not much good to anyone that depends on us. Here are a few tricks to keep your mental health where it needs to be:
Wake up early and with intention; how you begin each day matters.
Check in with your thoughts...they become your actions.
Make time for physical activities.
Choose what to say “no” to…and do it!
Connect with someone you love.
Practice slow, deep breaths.
Speak and act truthfully...let people know and respect who you truly are.
Be kind. Today more than ever, kindness matters.
Laugh...it truly is medicine for your soul.
However you decide to care for yourself, just know that the path to well being is important in your journey to being the best person you can be. Once you know what makes you happy, relaxed and centered, the path to mental health will be clear and rewarding.
By Melanie Akerberg
People Happiness Manager
Bliss Virtual Services