That healthy living starts with a healthy mind is something that’s often overlooked. But after recently going through a period of stress, anxiety, and general grouchiness, it’s been on my mind a lot. This, coupled with the annual Mental Health Awareness Week at the start of the month, has led me to look into the relatively new concept of self care.
What is self-care?
Self-care is an approach to looking after your own well being in a mindful and tailored way. You know yourself best, right? Understanding where your stresses and strains come from will help to find ways to alleviate them in your own way.
It’s worth noting that self-care is a concept that takes time. It may help your problems, but isn’t always the answer to mental health issues. Mental health charity Mind recognises that self-care also takes energy and work, and might not always be the solution.
Step 1: Define your day
I love to be spontaneous sometimes, but routine really gives me peace of mind. Knowing when work starts and stops, where I have to be in London at what times, and even what the weather is going to be like, all give me a certain sense of security. Define your day, be it work, pleasure, or a mix of both. Knowing how to dress for this terribly patchy May, may also give you some extra head space and remove nasty surprises.
Step 2: Be a social butterfly
Being around other people is one brilliant way to feel connected, understood, and valued. This comes with a caveat of understanding how much socialising is right for you. You may freeze up in a room full of strangers, but sitting on your best friend’s sofa watching a film together may work perfectly. There’s definitely a solace in sharing your thoughts and feelings with others. As someone who enjoys being alone a lot, getting the balance right is a great feeling.
Step 3: Look after your body
In one of the most popular TED Talks of all time, Ken Robinson talks about how our current education system – focused so heavily on English, Maths and Science – almost makes our bodies redundant. Between the years of school and my third year of university, my physical health was definitely left on the back-burner. I didn’t know that exercise, sleep, and eating well all have a part to play in my mental well being just as much as my physical health. That’s changed now, but on occasion I still don’t get my full 8 hours of sleep. Sometimes I choose terrible food on the go, and I skip the gym, and often it’s due to stress. Ironically, all of these things can help alleviate stress! If you’re like me, try making the time for yourself next time you feel too stressed out to think.
Step 4: Learn to relax
Another thing you need to make time for is relaxing. Therapeutic activities can range from having a long hot bath, a walk in the park, or even taking up an art class. Despite being so deeply interested in health living, I suck at meditation, and other than my walking commute I don’t actively go looking for the countryside, but I do understand the importance of relaxing and try to do so. Whether it’s creating line drawings for my blog, or flicking through a magazine with a few scented candles on in my room. Whatever your preference, make sure to make the time for it and for yourself!
Besma | Curiously Conscious