Self-care is an essential part of maintaining good mental health. It involves taking the time to do activities that help you live well and improve both your physical and mental health. Self-care can help you manage stress, reduce your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.
Practicing self-awareness is key to successful self-care. It can help you recognize patterns in your emotions, including situations that can trigger worsening symptoms. It can also help identify what activities or tasks are necessary for your well-being, relieve negative symptoms of mental illness or stress, or simply provide you with pleasure or relaxation. Research suggests that self-care promotes positive health outcomes, such as building resilience, living longer, and being better equipped to manage stress.
Self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself so that you can stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well. It can involve activities such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, meditating, and spending time with friends and family. It is important to customize your self-care strategy to fit your individual needs. For caregivers of people with mental illness, self-care is especially important.
Paying attention to your own physical and emotional health can help you cope with the challenges of supporting a person with a mental illness. Improving your relationship with yourself while maintaining your physical and mental health makes you more resilient, helping you adapt to change, build strong relationships, and recover from setbacks. If you don't know where to start, read the Tips for Talking to Your Health Care Provider fact sheet from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Keep in mind that if you read this and feel a sense of demoralization or sadness about the challenges that arise or about establishing a self-care practice, it is best to get help and support.
Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems. Self-care requires checking with yourself and asking yourself how you are doing it and what your body asks of you. If weekly manicures or monthly spa days are out of your means, there are many other self-care practices you can adopt. Improving your physical well-being is one of the most comprehensive ways you can support your mental health.
It feels good for others to do things that make us feel comfortable, but in some stressful or sad situations, it's important that we feel able to do things to take care of ourselves as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and treat disease”. Avery Kalapa says her work to create affirming yoga spaces and communities for people of all genders is inextricably linked to self-care.