Self-Care: A Path To Nourishing Your Mental Health

The term “self-care” gets thrown around a lot these days. It has become a pretty trendy idea, especially given the impact this concept has had on our well-being. Over time, commercials, magazines, and movies have led us to believe that self-care equals to regular spas, wine and rose petals in the bathtub, expensive getaways, retail therapy, or anything of the “treat yourself – luxury” collection.

As good as all of these are, true self-care encompasses way more than that. These practices are as uniques as each one of us are. There is neither a right or a wrong way to engage in self-care, nor is there a ‘one size fits all’ solution to the path of self-care. It can be just taking time for yourself, staying hydrated, putting your health first, feeling your body, being genuine, practicing forgiveness, acknowledging your feelings, or simply spending time with people you love. The key is to figure out what works best for you and feels rejuvenating, giving you more mental energy to persevere. The more you begin to deliberately care for your well-being, the more resilient you become, which ultimately helps strengthen your ability to cope with and manage whatever comes your way in life. In this sense, it takes SELF-CARE and the attitude of prioritising yourself to nourish your mental well-being.

10 Easy Ways to Nourish Your Mental Health

  1. Value Yourself – To value yourself is a spiritual practice to appreciate your qualities, while investing your time, energy and efforts in nurturing yourself. It is a viable step in calming your inner critic and to put a stop to berating yourself.

Useful tips to self-love:

  • Me Time –Have time for yourselves where you can indulge in activities that make you feel good. It can be a good massage, a power nap, or indulging in a hobby. This time by yourself, away from the hassles of being judged or constantly running in a maze, has a restorative value of it.
  • Practice Compassion – Relate with yourself kindly and more patiently than before. Also, extend this passion to others. When you’re feeling devalued, its goodto do something compassionate, kind and caring. This enhances your self worth and makes you feel more valuable and in control.
  • Live by your deepest values – When we are true to our beliefs and values, we feel more genuine and restrain from experiencing emotions such as guilt, shame or anxiety.
  • Check-in with yourself – It is so important to be attuned to one’s mind and body. So ask yourself questions time to time, like ‘did the quality of my sleep go down?’, ‘has my appetite changed?’, ‘Am I being more irritated or angry than normal?’ and the like.
  1. Embrace Connections – Humans are social creatures with innate emotional needs for positive relationships. Your brains crave companionship and connections to be able to survive and thrive in problematic times. And as true as it may be that you can’t step out due to the current times of social distancing, it is important to retain connection. It works as a stress-buster and a mood-booster.

Useful tips to connect:

  • Fix a virtual meet up FaceTime or video call someone to meet with them. To make it regular, you may offer to exercise together or play some virtual games together.
  • Break free from screen time –Never neglect your real-world relationships in favour of virtual interactions. Make time for people in your surroundings.
  • Branch out –Affiliate yourself with social or special interest groups that talk regularly. This would offer a great opportunity to connect with new people that share common interests.
  1. Be Physically Active – The mind and body are connected, i.e; when you improve your physical health, an automatic experience of greater mental well-being is attained. Exercise and physical activity releases endorphins which is a powerful chemical that uplifts your mood and provides added energy. Even modest amounts of physical activity can go a long way.

Useful tips to initiate an exercise regimen:

  • Target 30-40 mins of physical activity. If you’re new to exercising, you may do your workout in slots or time intervals. Having such intervals makes the task easier and gradually builds your stamina and won’t lead to sore muscles.
  • Try exercisesthat involve both your arms and legs like walking, dancing, running, or swimming for a wholesome experience.
  1. Learn A New Skill – This boosts your self-confidence and raises your self-esteem. It is also a great medium for connecting with others and breaks the monotony in your life, by spurring novelty and excitement.

Useful tips on learning a new skill:

  • Enrol in an online course– Consider signing up for a short course of your interest. It could be learning a new language or any practical skill such as marketing. Most of the courses online are certificate-based which serves as both, a reward and a way to boost your confidence.
  • Partake Challenging hobbies– Try your hands on new hobbies that challenge your creative juices. These may range from painting, writing, or cooking.
  1. Effectively Engage In Stress Management – Even though all stressors cannot be eliminated, you sure can manage stress with useful strategies to restore balance.

Useful tips to manage stress:

  • Talk to someone – Sharing what you feel is liberating and makes you feel better even if the stressful situation is unaltered.
  • Use the power of your senses – Start experimenting with different sensory inputs like good music, smell of a soothing perfume, or squeezing a stress ball, to understand what works best for you to feel centred.
  • Prioritise leisure time – Engage in activities that have a feel-good factor for you. Watch a comedy movie, take a walk, listen to music, read an interesting book, or spend time with people you love.
  • Practice relaxation – Learn yoga, mindfulness breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation to put brakes on stress.
  • Acquaint yourself with emotional literacy – Understand and accept emotions- particularly unpleasant ones. This will bring about a huge shift in your ability to manage your stress levels.
  1. Take a Healthy Diet – An imbalanced diet can disrupt your sleep, sap energy, decline productivity, and compromise your immune system. Conversely, a wholesome diet that is low in sugar and rich in healthy fats, improves sleep, boosts mood, adds to energy levels and makes you stronger.

Things you can include in your diet to enrich your mental well being:

  • Fatty fish rich in Omega-3s such as salmon, anchovies, and tuna
  • Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts
  • Avocados and seeds like flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc.
  • Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and sprouts
  • Fresh fruits and berries.
  • Regular water consumption of 6-8 glasses a day
  1. Get Quality Sleep – Getting sufficient sleep is a necessity to ensure good mental health. Sleep deprivation can lead to low energy, inflated mood, mental dullness and inability to deal with stress. Ensure that you aim for 7-9 hours of quality uninhibited sleep each night.

Useful tips to enhance sleep patterns:

  • Off-screen – Practice taking a break from the stimulation of screens at least two hours before bedtime to ensure that your brain has sufficient time to unwind at the end of the day.
  • Form a schedule– To help set your body’s internal clock and optimise the quality of your sleep, stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, and stick to it even on weekends.
  • Soothe your senses– Use scented candles, dim light, soft music or relaxation techniques to induce sleep.
  1. Find Purpose and Meaning in life – To find meaning and purpose is to feel good, wanted and motivated. Even though different things work to drive different people, its impact is the same on all i.e; it enhances your ability to cope with distress.

Useful tips to find meaning in life:

  • Indulge in Feel good activities– Take part in activities that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive. Some ideas can be gardening, drawing, writing, or playing an instrument.
  • Pat a pet– As much of a responsibility a pet is, having one makes one feel needed and loved. There’s no love quite as unconditional as the love a pet can give.
  • Volunteer for social service– You are all wired to give and help others in the community. This enriches and expands your life and makes you feel happier. So you may enrol in schools, NGO’s, and other charitable organisations as a volunteer.
  • Practice kindness– Take care of your parents, your relatives, or a child to spur love, kindness and loyalty. This is rewarding and gives you a sense of positivity.
  1. Calm Your Mind – Your mind continuously wanders which causes stress and worry. It is, therefore, important to calm your mind and practice mindfulness which is a form of meditation that allows you to focus your thoughts in the present moment rather than dwelling in the past or the future.

Useful tips to practice mindfulness:

  • Focus on breathing – Take deep and focussed breaths and be conscious of the rhythm of your breathing – like how your body is feeling when you are inhaling or exhaling.
  • Take a Walk –You can go on a long walk surrounding nature to feel rejuvenated. Introspective meditation in nature has a multitude of benefits from inducing happiness to feeling relaxed.
  • Practice Positive Self Affirmations – Affirmations are a powerful tool to reprogram your mind and re-write your own story. Consistent reputation of positive statements leads them to become your inner voice. You can work out affirmations that best suit you in a given situation, like ‘I am confident’ or ‘I choose to be happy’
  1. Ask for Help when you need It– If despite your tireless efforts, you aren’t able to optimally function at home, work, or in your relationships, it may be the right time to seek professional help. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength.

Useful tips to seek help:

  • Find a Therapist– To find the right person is the key. It’s a good idea to go to someone who has expertise in dealing with the kind of issues you’re experiencing.
  • Online Help– If for some reason you are hesitant to seek help face to face or are too stuck with work and responsibilities, then it’s a good idea to seek help online. It can be via messages, phone calls or a video chat.

Take Away Message – 

Self-care is the key to living a balanced life. To begin with, stick to the basics and over time, you will be able to identify more particular forms of self-care that work for you. It needs to be something you actively plan, rather than something that just happens. Add certain activities to your calendar, announce your plans to others to increase your commitment, and actively look for opportunities to practice self-care. Be conscious because if you don’t see something as self-care, it won’t work as such. Be aware of what you do, why you do it, how it feels, and what the outcomes are.

To get more conscious and intentional about self-care, get in the habit of checking in with yourself and listening to what your mind and body tell you that it needs.

Remember that it is okay to start small.

Remember that self-care is neither selfish nor self-indulgent.

Remember that you deserve the same grace, compassion, and care that you give to others.

What is that one thing that you really need today? Share your reflections in the comments section below.

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Diva Malhotra
Diva Malhotra
3 years ago

Amazing…loved to read through every line n wish to analyz n practise d same..its like rejuvinating…

Anika kakar
Anika kakar
3 years ago

After reading this article i feel there are so many things we take for granted and most important being our own self. Its such a well elaborated article with guidelines to each and every thing. Thanks for such great insights i feel i am awakened to a new perspective and have concerete things in front of me as to how i can go about implying it in my life. Very informative 👏 👌