Self-care is essential for mental health and will lead to a balanced, healthy, and happy life. Self-care is a broad topic with many elements under its umbrella. Learning to balance each of these areas can be a challenge, so sometimes it’s useful to explore self-care in four categories: mental self-care, emotional self-care, physical self-care, and spiritual self-care. They all contribute to our mental health because everything is connected.
Self-care includes eating properly, exercising, sleeping well, coping appropriately with emotions (like stress, shame, grief, and disappointment), socializing, dating, healthy solitude, spirituality, relaxation and rest, practicing gratitude, taking care of financial matters, meeting obligations, and so many other important daily rituals of mindfulness. I take a deep dive into all of these topics in my book The Rewired Life, which will help you develop self-care habits to enhance your overall health and wellness.
Self-care can be difficult for those who never received nurturing from their primary caretakers. There can be a lot of grief and surrender involved in finally taking responsibility for your own well-being even if no one else did in your past. Despite how difficult it might be to practice self-care, it’s essential to remember that you are capable of loving and honoring yourself and that you have the power to develop self-care habits that will nourish your life.
But with each act of self-love, the Universe moves in to support your intentions, and you will find that more loving, nourishing relationships begin to blossom. After all, it’s nearly impossible to receive love when we do not care to love ourselves.
Dealing with stress
In The Rewired Life, I explore how stress is one of the major risk factors for illness, although not everyone is aware of the degree to which this is so. Working to reduce stress in your life can pay huge dividends in terms of saved time, saved money, improved health, and better relationships. Most of all, it can create a more peaceful, comfortable mental environment. The thoughts that you have contribute to your overall confidence and happiness, so reframing negative thoughts or distorted thoughts is an important thing to learn how to do.
What do you put in your body and how do you treat it?
Diet, exercise, hydration, and sleep are all extremely important when discussing physical self-care.
The major stressors on our body are lack of sleep, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and sugar. We may turn to these substances as a shortcut to dealing with stress, but over time they become their own liabilities, straining our organs and inhibiting a peaceful frame of mind.
Finding healthy substitutes for these products can be looked at as an adventure. Today, more than any other time in history, we have so many tools: sleep apps, meditation tapes, healthy food alternatives, herbal teas, and so much more. Developing healthy habits will help sustain our wellness while sparing us the toxicity. Finding replacements for these substances may take some creativity and getting used to, but ultimately your body—and mind—will thank you.
Engaging in physical activity may be the last thing on your mind when you’re stressed out. Since stress releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, getting moving can help trick your body into believing it has successfully executed a “fight or flight” response, which in turn dials down the stress. Even though it might seem overly simple, going for a brisk walk when you feel tense can do wonders for your mood and mental state. When we honor our bodies with physical activity, we get our blood circulating and our metabolism revved up, and we feel and look good, all of which can affect our mental health.
When it comes to emotional self-care, it is important to be comfortable, sit with our emotions, and speak and live our truth. Doing this will help with stress and our mental health, too. One way to start is to work on assertiveness. So often when we’re faced with a problem or conflict, we cower because we lack the skills needed to successfully navigate the situation. This in turn causes an excess of emotional and mental stress.
Learning how to stand up for yourself and express your opinions and beliefs while still respecting others can go a long way in creating harmonious relationships with coworkers, bosses, partners, friends, and family members.
Assertiveness is not the same thing as being dominating or demanding. It’s simply standing strong in your core opinions and not backing down because you’re too afraid to rock the boat. Assertiveness can lead to win-win scenarios, which are always the best for everyone involved.
Connecting with yourself
Connecting with your spirit in the quiet moments of the day and anywhere in between is what spiritual self-care is. It’s about creating practices and habits that will serve you, restore your energy, renew your spirit, and give you peace of mind.
Some ways to do this include going outside or spending even just a little time in nature—taking a walk, hike, or run. Try journaling, drawing, cooking, taking a bath, meditation, or some breathwork. Having a gratitude practice or moment of prayer each day always helps us stay grounded and mindful of our blessings.
There are so many ways we can increase our self-care. Today, choose one way to incorporate a self-care act or routine into your life.
Taking the time every day to care for ourselves will assist us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually and help us become more balanced overall.