Most people these days have read about or heard someone speak about the importance of self care. But what does taking care of yourself really mean? Well, it means a number of things, and it could carry a different meaning for different people.
Some of the common meanings include physical well-being, financial well-being, and or spiritual well-being. Yes, all forms of well-being are important when it comes to the overall human conditioning of a balanced life.
Yet, there is another level of care that is sometimes left out of the care hierarchy, or not talked about as much. However, it is starting to gain more ground due to advocacy and awareness. A hierarchy is simply a ranking order divided into categories. And in this hierarchy, we assign a certain amount of meaningfulness, therefore we give more care and attention, to certain categories. Naturally, there are things in life that are more important than other things and require greater attention. (You decide what those things are.) But also, there are some things in life that may not receive enough attention, and therefore not receive enough care. This brings me to the topic of mental health wellness, including self-care.
Mental health wellness often affects other wellness categories. Think about it. Have you ever heard that weight loss starts in the mind? Or that meditation can increase personal awareness and is good for the soul? The way we think about certain things can have a profound effect on the way we care for those things. But what happens when the thinking pattern is unhealthy due to the lack of care for the mind?
The lack of mental health care could hinder the progress of the other wellness areas. You might be wondering how self-care and the mind related. Let me explain. For example, there are certain amounts of stress or anxiousness that are considered a normal part of life. Under these circumstances, the person can continue to function in their daily routine at a progressive rate. The stress or anxiousness may not last very long and/or it will ease up a bit. However, if there are overwhelming amounts, the person’s daily functioning may become restricted. This could be a sign that there is not enough attention being given to the self-care process. Of course, the actual stressful events that are happening can affect stress levels. But a healthy self-care routine can help eliminate some of the negative effects related to the natural emotional response.
So, how can one increase their own self-care and mental health wellness? To begin with, it is a good idea to identify what self-care and wellness mean for you, because it could be different across social norms. But in general, self-care from the mental health perspective basically means incorporating positive coping activities to help improve the peaceful balance between mood, emotions, and behavior.
According to Mental Health America, helpful activities include connecting with and helping others, staying positive, being physically active, getting enough sleep, eating well, taking care of the spirit, and getting professional help when needed.
Additional activities can include taking a walk, aromatherapy, enjoying the sunlight, listening to music, laughing, going to dinner, etc.
There are tons of ways to incorporate self-care activities into your daily lifestyle. Try to become more aware of the things that bring you a better sense of balance, peace, and joy.
This week, try to focus on determining what self-care means for you and place yourself higher on the care hierarchy. As the saying goes, “Happiness is a state of mind.”
Prudence Hatchett, M.S., M.Ed., NCC, LPC, BC-TMH, ACAS, CCATP, KLSC, is the owner of PH Counseling, LLC and PH Counseling School online.