Self-care can be a walk in the park

Sometimes self-care means a slice of cake and a bubble bath, other times a walk in the park. File photo.

by Hayden Smith
Staff Writer

In discussions of mental wellness, the act of self-care is frequently mentioned. But what is self-care and how can it help you?

Self-care, as obvious as it may sound, is the act of taking care of one’s self. When referring to mental health, self-care consists of whatever actions one takes to maintain a healthy mental state and successfully deal with the negative symptoms of mental illnesses.

Some of these actions may be obvious. Taking your prescribed medications and seeing a therapist or mental health professional qualify as self-care.

Some of these actions are less obvious. Meditation, doing the laundry and spending time with your friends can also qualify as self-care. How?

Meditation helps you become aware of healthy and unhealthy thoughts. Doing laundry decreases personal stress. Spending time out with friends and loved ones provides enjoyment and a healthy break from responsibilities.

Self-care is not simply dealing head on with mental illness; it is every action you take to make yourself stronger against it. It is mindfulness of your own state of being and what will be best for you.

There are multiple schools of thought on what qualifies as “best for you”. There are workaholics that believe if you don’t address every little responsibility immediately, you are slacking off and therefore not taking care of yourself. Likewise, there are more hedonistic mindsets believing that your own happiness comes above all else and facing any stressful event directly is actively self-destructive.

The key to successful self-care is striking a personalized balance between these two mindsets.

You can’t buy a new wardrobe when your rent is due and say you’re taking care of yourself, nor can you work to the point of burnout and expect your best possible results. You must be aware of what needs come first and address them in that order.

Sometimes self-care means a slice of cake and a bubble bath. Sometimes it means turning off your phone while you’re at work. Sometimes it means a solid workout at the gym, or taking time each evening to call a friend or turning down an invitation to focus on responsibilities.

This Mental Health month, take some time for yourself and give serious thought to your mental state, what your wants and needs are and how to best address them. Formulate a plan of attack. You don’t have to stick to it, but even if it fails, you will know more about your needs as well as yourself.

Most importantly, keep in mind that there is no uniform, “right”, one-size-fits-all for self-care. What’s best for you may not be what’s best for others. So long as you keep yourself happy, healthy and safe, you are doing it right.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly May 23, 2017 @ 7:45 a.m.