I’ve written blog posts before about how creativity and little acts of self-care help pick us up on the bad days, but it’s so important to make time to take care of yourself on the good days as well. I know I have struggled with a reluctance to prioritise self-care; it feels selfish and self-indulgent, and I can always come up with a long list of things I ‘should’ be doing instead.
The reality is, that we need to take care of ourselves or we may find that we succumb more easily to the bad days. I’m not suggesting that self-care is a catch all preventative measure. Self-care won’t stop depression in it’s tracks, or magically eradicate compulsions and obsessive thoughts, or mean you’ll never have a panic attack again. What it will do though is increase your self awareness, and hopefully help you manage yourself and your bad days in a healthier way. We don’t try to eat a healthily balanced diet or maintain a balanced lifestyle because it’s a guarantee that we’ll never get ill, but because it’s healthy. It’s good for us. Self-care is a balanced lifestyle and healthy diet for your mind and soul.
There are lots of tips and tricks and self-care challenges available online. In September last year I contributed to ECBC’s #SelfCareSeptember project: 30 days of self care activities and advice all promoted through blog posts and social media. You can download ECBC’s self-care calendar for free and this is a great starting point for making a commitment to focusing on self-care every day.
It’s important to recognise that self-care is not a luxury and therefore our acts of self care are not always luxurious. Some days, self-care is as small an act as brushing your teeth, making that doctors appointment you keep putting off or going to bed early. It’s those small every day actions that build a bigger picture of valuing and caring for ourselves. It is that self-valuing that then helps us keep our mental health on the straight and narrow, as much as possible.
What are your favourite ways to take care of yourself?
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health then please don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone. You are not alone and help is available. By opening up and starting the conversation we can move forward together and look to a mentally healthy future. Below are links to a range of fantastic organisations that can provide information, advice and services.
The Samaritans – http://www.samaritans.org
Mind – http://www.mind.org.uk
Young Minds – http://www.youngminds.org.uk
Papyrus (prevention of young suicide) – https://www.papyrus-uk.org
Time to Change – http://www.time-to-change.org.uk
Rethink Mental Illness – http://www.rethink.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – https://www.afsp.org
Please do not struggle alone.