Self Care in Mental Health

How often are you deliberate in doing something that would be considered 'self care'? Essentially self care is anything that we intentionally do to take care of our bodies. In mental health, self care can be used to reduce stress, manage anxiety, and reward our bodies for the hard work we put it through.

When working with patients and through the students I talk to, we always discuss ways that they can implement self-care into their daily routines. Even 15-30 minutes of full attention focused on your body's needs can make a world of difference. Here are a few self-care ideas:

1. Physical activity- Whether it's taking a run, swimming, lifting weights or boxing, being physically fit is not only good for your heart, but it is also good for your mind. Working out increases the endorphins in the brain. This is especially helpful for those struggling with depression. It is also great for people who have anxiety or anger issues. It's a safe way to release pent up energy. Like I tell my patients, "It's better to punch a punching bag then to punch someone in the face!".

2. Spiritual activity- This is your spiritual connection with a higher power. This can be done through prayer or meditation. Being spiritually connected to a higher power allows one to find comfort in that they are not alone in this world and that they are being taken care of by someone higher than themselves. Some go to churches, synagogues, mosques and other formal places to be united with others in their same belief system. 

3. Relax & Retreat- Schedule time to pamper yourself! And this is not just for women. Massages are a great way to repair the stress we put on our bodies, specifically our muscles. Massages can also release toxins that have built up in our system. This can also be achieved by spending time in a steam room! But don't think you have to spend a fortune to be able to relax. At home spa days, can achieve the same results. Put a mask on your face, make a bubble bath, light some candles and you have yourself one relaxing time! 

4. Balanced Sleep- How do you expect your body to perform at its best if you are only operating on a few hours of sleep. I'm actually the worst at this since I'm a total night owl, but still have to wake up early the next morning! It's important to get 7-8 hours of sleep to allow our minds to rest. Our brains are like computers, if we keep them on all the time, there will be system failure. If you find that you have a hard time concentrating, become easily frustrated and/or experience fatigue throughout the day, it may be that you are not getting enough sleep. For those who have trouble falling asleep, make sure to turn off all electronics as the light from these devices keep our brains alert. You can also try soft music or spraying lavender (in the essential oil form) on your pillow to breath in.

There are more ways to practice self-care, so stay tuned for my follow up blog!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015


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