It’s a word thrown around by mental health advocates quite often, but what does it mean really?
You’ve all probably heard these instructions while flying: “If traveling with young children, please be sure to secure your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.” I think that perfectly describes basic self care, we must take care of ourselves first before we can fully take care of others in our charge.
Without our own needs met, we cannot provide for the needs of those who can’t do for themselves. In my case my 3- and 5-year-old children. For you it might also be your children or it could be your work or an ailing parent, and on and on. Those dependent on us, need us at our best. They really do. So taking care of you is in no way selfish.
Think about it this way. If you work an office job, you have days off, right? Why is that? Well, if you worked 24/7 without rest or breaks the quality of your work would suffer greatly. Your clients or employers would not be getting the best of you. You would become tired, emotionally and physically drained, and you’d lose the motivation to do great work. So you get built in breaks to help you recharge.
That’s self care.
So how do you recharge when you need it? For me, I really need good sleep, particularly for my mental health. When I’m starting to feel out of sorts, it’s so important for me to focus on getting good quality sleep. There are other ways I take care of me too, that go beyond the basic need of sleep. Like reading, playing a game, shopping, writing, spending time with friends, going on a date night, and getting a pedicure.
Yes, those more “frivolous” things are just as important to me as sleep.
When i’m feeling anxious, diving into a good book takes me on a journey into another world. Focusing on something else calms me. Playing Words with Friends also does that for me. Its a positive distraction from my own stress and worry.
As a stay at home mom, when I’m too immersed in my kids worlds, I need adult time to feel whole. A girls night out or a date with my husband is just what the doctor ordered to feel like myself again.
I asked a few of my fellow friends in my mental health blogs group what their favorite forms of self care are, and I love how many different answers I received:
Chrisa likes to be crafty. “I have a little corner of my basement set up for crafty things (making cards mostly). That way when I need a mental break, I can take an hour to go and do something creative and away from everything else without having to pull it all out and put it away again.” The Mindstorm @Chrisa_Hickey
Alycia takes care of animals. “When life gets stressful, I find that it is usually people around me (and my reactions to them) that can cause a spiral of anxiety. The routine and unspoken communication of tending animals can break me from the cycle and help me center myself.” The Diary of …And Frankly @and_frankly
Brenna knits. “I love to knit when I feel stressed or anxiety coming on. Its rote and simple (some patterns). My mind immediately focuses on what I’m doing with my hands and fingers. Very soothing.” The Gypsy Journal @BrennaDarazs
Kathy likes to walk her dogs in nature, bird watching and gardening. Kathy also has an art space in her home for sewing, writing and working with clay. Her mom made the art space needlepoint chair over 50 years ago. Lovely. BirthTouch LLC @KathyAMorelli
Lauralee does scrapbooking. “I get lost in the memoris. Plus now that my kidsa re older, they love looking at the books.” @lauraleemoss
Kelly likes to garden. “Gardening this season has really helped my depression. The sun feels great and its fun to watch the plants and vegetable gain life and grow. Its also awesome to have fresh cut flowers to cheer me up!” Mama In The Burbs @mamaintheburbs
Bobbi “Taking a nap is a great one for me. Sitting outside on my patio soaking up the sunshine with a cup of tea and purposefully focusing on listening to the sounds around me. That clears my mind more than anything, and has the bonus of getting me some additional Vitamin D.” I am Resplendent @TruthisHers
Elly “I’ve started an herb garden about 5 times. When I’m feeling frustrated, I turn the music up loud and disco with my kids.” Becoming Us
I just love all of these ideas. Don’t you? What are your favorite forms of self care? Please share with us in comments.