An important aspect of managing stress and maintaining good health is actively taking steps to manage your wellbeing. To reduce your risk of mental and physical ill health, focus on self-care strategies that work for you. Everyone will have different practices, but the essence of self-care remains the same: taking the time to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing.
Why Self Care?
Taking care of yourself is essential in managing stress and maintaining health and wellbeing.
Being aware of your physical and mental health can help you identify and address any issues as they arise. It is important to take the time to practise self-care regularly. Self-care can help to reduce feelings of stress, build your resilience and protect your mental wellbeing.
Self Care: How to do it well
Firstly, there is no one size fits all when it comes to self-care. Everyone has their own individual preferences which they discover when they begin to prioritise their well-being. There are however, some universal truths that can help kick start your self-care journey.
5 Effective Tips for Self-Care
1. Know your early warning signs
You may begin to experience early warning signs that could indicate a need to take action. That could mean practising self-care or reaching out to a trusted source such as family or friends, your GP or community health organisation. Speak up early and take action early if you notice symptoms. Some (but not all) of these signs could include:
- A feeling of anxiety or nervousness
- An inability to feel pleasure or a lack of motivation
- Avoidance of others and self-isolation
- Changes in appetite
- Feeling slow or flat, or feeling sped up or hyper
- A sense of not being connected with your body
- Not keeping to appointments and commitments
An excellent resource to track how you’re going can be found at the Centre for Rural & Remote Mental Health.
2. Exercise and eat well
It sounds simple, but it one of the universal truths of wellness. Ensure you prioritise the time to exercise regularly and educate yourself on the types of nourishing foods that will help you maintain a balanced diet.
For more information and resources based on Australian Dietary Guidelines visit: eatforhealth.gov.au
3. Self-nourishment not self-punishment
Self-care doesn’t mean punishing yourself at the gym when you hate lifting weights or denying yourself your favourite food. Find activities you enjoy doing when practising self-care. Maybe you love a long walk on the beach or a relaxing session of yoga. Perhaps you have a passion for knitting or photography. You might be drawn to team sports, or simply enjoy finding a peaceful moment to breath deeply – discover what works for you.
By choosing things you take pleasure in and suit your lifestyle you’re much more likely to build and maintain long term healthy habits.
4. Establish routines
At its core self-care is about prioritising regular activities that help you recharge and basically make you feel good! To build and sustain long term health habits it helps to establish a routine. If you don’t make time to self-care you probably won’t do it. Some ways to create and maintain a routine include:
- Plan ahead and schedule time to self-care (it doesn’t have to be lengthy)
- Keep your routine simple
- Keep it affordable
- Ensure it suits your lifestyle
- Choose activities you enjoy
- Communicate your plans to people around you
5. Connect with others
We are social beings. We instinctively seek out and establish relationships with other people. Social connection is part of our survival; interpersonal relationships sustain us and improve our physical, emotional and mental health. Conversely, isolation and lack of social connection can be detrimental to our wellbeing. If you’re feeling isolated and disconnected begin by reaching out to family and friends for support. Or be courageous, join a club or hobby group and begin forging new social connections!
Meetup.com.au can help you meet like-minded people and connect you to interest groups in your local area.
And the best part? Taking the time to prioritise self-care will have a positive flow on effect many aspects of your life. Self-care done well can improve your mental and physical health, your relationships with those around and uphold your sense of wellbeing.