MIND YOURSELF: The Importance of Self Care
This article is the second of a series of articles on mental health from our partner Turn2me
All too often we listen to this critical inner voice that disciplines us, is never satisfied and it can get really tough if we don’t catch it in time. Everyone has some negative self-talk but before the constant self-criticism becomes gruelling, we should start taking better care of ourselves.
We are all allowed to make mistakes, nobody has to be perfect. But we often judge ourselves with overly critical thoughts and inner negative self-talk. We activate our body's own threat system and trigger a stress reaction. We are not very kind to ourselves.
With a view to coping with individual stress, it is particularly important to learn to accept yourself and thus to be kind and loving with yourself…be self-compassionate.
There is no single behaviour that goes with being self-compassionate. Depending on your
circumstances, very different types of behaviours will be helpful.
We can break compassionate behaviours into three categories:
- Minding ourselves
- Taking care of others and
- Taking care of business
We are minding ourselves by purposely engaging in self-soothing activities, which is a priority when it comes to self-compassion. Self-soothing may involve things like participating in nurturing activities that give us a sense of warmth, being cared for, and can help us get through tough times. It is important to pre-plan these regularly into our week, and have specific activities in mind that can be easily used as required when we are struggling emotionally.
When we are behaving compassionately by taking care of others we can also strengthen our compassionate side. Think of how you can show kindness to a partner, family member, friend or stranger, and notice the impact that your kindness has on you and the other person.
Behaving compassionately can also require courage and strength as we need to take care of business. This means facing problems and taking action rather than avoiding, giving up, procrastinating, escaping or numbing our feelings, isolating ourselves, being passive or aggressive, and not forgiving others. As a rough guide, when the threat system is being unreasonable and oversensitive, try acting opposite to what it is telling you to do.
When making changes to our behaviour it is important to plan what we are going to do and when we are going to do it. Building some self-care activities into our daily or weekly routine can help us to be more compassionate with ourselves.
IDEAS FOR SELF-SOOTHING ACTIVITIES:
- Make a nice meal or snack for yourself
- Enjoy a favourite drink (non-alcohol)
- Have a picnic
- Meet with a friend for coffee, lunch, a walk, etc.
- Phone a friend to chat
- Take a walk in lovely surroundings
- Look at beautiful art or scenery
- Go to a beautiful place
- Enjoy time in the sunshine
- Go to the beach
- Light a candle
- Watch the stars
- Put on soothing or enjoyable music
- Enjoy the sounds of nature
- Use a favourite perfume or lotion
- Enjoy the smells of nature or flowers
- Have a bubble bath
- Have a long shower
- Have a massage
- Pamper yourself
- Soak your feet
- Gently brush your hair
- Do your nails
- Read a good book or magazine
- Watch a good movie or TV show
- Pat your dog or cat
- Hug yourself
- Hug someone else
- Imagine a relaxing scene or safe place
- Do some relaxation or meditation
- Do some slow breathing
- Smile to yourself
- Laugh out loud
- Take a break
By taking care of ourselves and practising self-soothing activities, we develop an attitude that expresses compassion and appreciation for ourselves. When we value ourselves, we automatically treat ourselves well, we take our own needs, feelings and resources seriously and automatically work on our desire to not only stay healthy physically, mentally and spiritually, but also to be happy and fulfilled.
Treat yourself with appreciation and care and create moments of pleasure. Whatever you choose as your personal soothing-activities - celebrate what you enjoy and enjoy it as intensely as possible!