You may be thinking this post isn’t quite along the lines of my usual content. You’d be right. After having a break from blogging due to some health reasons and having a number of friends and family currently dealing with their own mental health concerns, I figured this topic is too important and too close to me not to cover. I’ll be looking at what self-care is, why it’s important and how to help out loved ones that you suspect may need a little extra TLC.
So, what is self care?
Self care in a nut-shell is taking some time out from your hectic life and schedule, to look after #1 (that’s you!). This can be doing something you enjoy, want to catch up on, find relaxing/de-stressing, going for a walk, sitting in a park and having a picnic etc. For me, self-care is putting an hour aside, doing some yoga, working out, having a shower and then tending to my nest of hair on my head and my face (even hair needs a lil’ TLC from time to time). This routine tends to involve a nice cuppa as well!
Why is self care important?
Self care is hugely important to break up your time between work, study, chores and socialising. After particularly hectic periods also, such as after an exam period or a long working week. Allowing yourself time between these stressful instances, to focus and develop yourself, can prevent you from feeling flat and lethargic. It’s also a huge positive boost to inspiration and motivation. This will encourage your ability to achieve and succeed in your pursuits too, as you’ll have a new, more upbeat perspective and a refreshed and clear mind.
How do you do it?
Self care is different for everyone, I’ve already mentioned my favourite form of self care. However, if yoga ain’t your thing, that might not work for you. First of all, think of anything you’ve been wanting to do for yourself. Have you fancied a nice relaxing bath for a while? Do you feel like you just want to sit quietly with a cuppa tea and listen to your favourite album? Get out in the garden, get acquainted with some plants or the wildlife.The idea is to take your mind to the ‘third place’, this is a place that isn’t work but also isn’t home. It should be somewhere your mind can feel free and relaxed, but not distracted or stressed. Anything that makes you happy and helps you to find 20-30 minutes of peace and tranquility within your day.
Noticing when others need help.
Now, obviously this post is about self care, but what about if one of your friends or family, or any loved one felt under the weather, do you think you could tell? Do you think you could help? In the UK alone in 2017, there were 6 213 reported cases of suicide. A hell of a lot more people experience thoughts of self harm/suicide and a massive amount of people could benefit from just having some closer connections. Now, I’m in no way saying self care can prevent this, but can definitely help us to feel less swamped in our problems and troubles. It’s not always easy to see when someone is struggling, society has taught us to speak out and seek help, however, actual experiences reinforce the opposite. Seeking medical help can sit you on a waiting list for 18 months and struggling alone, or having copious courses of anti-depressants to become reliant and dependant on. Think of signs you may display when you’re down, are your usually social friends, a little more distant and harder to reach at the moment? Does your foodie friend have trouble making themselves eat? Is someone you know napping/sleeping/resting far more than usual? These are all signs that you may need to reach out to your friend.
How to help.
Self care doesn’t really change to much just because you’re trying to arrange it for someone else. Someone can still run me a bath, make me a cuppa tea and encourage me to enjoy it. Sure, it’s up to me to get into the bath, but your friend’s gonna feel so warm and lovely just from having someone take that time to stop, check in and offer care and support. Your offer of support could be as simply as travelling to them to see them, instead of expecting them to get up, showered and meet you somewhere in public, some days that’s just too much to handle.
I hope this post has helped shed some light on the more subtle side of mental health, hopefully you’ll be able to reflect and check in on yourself and friends a little more. Remember, look after yourself!