We often hear the term “self-care” thrown around all over social media, becoming a trend in self-help books. However, it is much more than a glass of wine, a bubble bath, a night out, or a nap. So, how does self-care affect your mental health? Let’s find out.
Self-care is broadly defined as intentionally taking time to take care of yourself and meet your physical, mental, and emotional needs. This could be as simple as ensuring you’re getting enough sleep each night or exercising for at least 30 minutes a day.
The definition of self-care is meant to be broad, as it looks different for every individual. One person’s needs may differ from another depending on their schedule, health, and personality.
For example, self-care for someone who is extroverted may mean taking the time to socialize to recharge their social battery, whereas, for an introvert, it might mean sitting at home after a stressful day and reading a book.
To decide what to do for your personal self-care routine, think about what makes you happy, brings you peace, and makes you feel calm. It’s advised to avoid unhealthy activities such as drinking and smoking since the long-term effects are harmful to your health and are not considered caring for your body.
This list is not exhaustive, but you can take inspiration from these ideas and formulate your own wellness routine.
Mental health is the combination of your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. When you’re physically ill, it’s hard to do certain things you can do when you’re healthy. If you experience mental illness, it can also be hard to do some of the things you’d be able to do if you were mentally healthy.
Mental health falls on a broad spectrum and varies based on the following factors:
In 1943, Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, came up with a hierarchical system that dictates, at its most all-encompassing, yet basic level, the needs of each individual: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The initial pyramid shape listed 5 needs. The bottom 4 are considered your deficiency needs or needs that you will become increasingly motivated for until you meet them. “Self-actualization,” which sits at the top of the pyramid, is considered a growth need, meaning that your motivation to achieve it will only grow the more the need is met.
Physiological needs: Basic human needs necessary for survival (air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, sleep)
Safety needs: The need for security and safety. The human desire to feel in control of oneself and live a predictable life, in the sense where you know you will be okay. These needs can be met through family, friends, police officers, medical professionals, bankers, employment, welfare, etc.
Belongingness: The social need to belong, feel loved, and participate in relationships (friendship, intimacy, trust, acceptance, affection, love).
Esteem needs: Self-worth, accomplishment, dignity, and respect. This is divided into two parts: self-esteem and our longing to be accepted by others.
Self-actualization: At the top of the pyramid lay the need to discover one’s full potential, discover new experiences, and seek fulfillment. This could be your goal of becoming a doctor, an artist, an athlete, or self-expression through hobbies.
When thinking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s easy to think about, for example, how being hungry causes you not to be able to focus on much of anything else. Likewise, it’s hard to concentrate on hobbies when we’re working to earn a living, and even harder to feel safe if your food, drink, shelter, clothing, or sleep needs aren’t met.
Now think back to the stereotypical examples of self-care: wine & bubble baths. Don’t get it wrong, those can be ways of treating yourself to some good self-care, but if you’re not taking care of the other, necessary aspects of your health, like sleep, then you may still be running on empty.
A large part of understanding your own self-care routine is self-awareness. By taking time to focus on yourself, you’re better able to recognize your emotions, patterns, and ways you are struggling. Self-care can, in return, help you manage stress, strengthen your immune system, and energize your body.
It’s important to remember that even though self-care is an integral part of maintaining mental health, it will not “cure” all issues. For example, mental illness may be alleviated by a good self-care regime, but if the problem is unresolved trauma, prolonged stress, brain chemistry, or other genetic factors, taking care of yourself can only go so far.
If you notice that you’re struggling with your mental health and require help, it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional. Therapy is self-care in itself!
If you’re looking for a therapist in Bloomsburg, PA, Dr. John G. Kuna and Associates is here to help- schedule an appointment today. Our highly trained staff are committed to providing caring, safe, and compassionate sessions so you can become the best version of yourself.