Society often places unrealistic expectations on women, whispering sweet nothings of inadequacy and self-doubt into your ears. But you are an unparalleled enigma. To prioritize your mental health, you need to make self-care a priority.
Self-care is not about the lavish bubble baths or insatiable binge-watching sprees, no. It involves taking steps to care for your physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Of course, this might mean meditation, taking a sauna break, or other refreshing activities but Heed the call of your being, and immerse yourself in the art of caring for that complex, untamed spirit. Married women were four times as likely to feel selfish about taking time out for themselves as unmarried women.
You know that as a woman, you are often expected to put others’ needs before your own, which leads to a relentless cycle of work, chaos, and stress. The weight of it all might be chipping away at your sanity more than you care to admit. So, let’s get this straight: mental health isn’t just an absence of disease; it’s the essence of a rich, vibrant life. Not only does it get you to be more productive and a well-functioning woman, but it also means better self-confidence and a mature thinking level.
To avoid drowning in the tumult of your own neglected desires, start drawing lines in the sand. Learn the delicate art of saying no, and put an end to the endless torrent of demands that threaten to consume you. You’re not selfish, darling. You’re simply recognizing the vital importance of taking care of the one and only you.
Defining Self-Care and Its Role in Overall Well-Being
What is Self-Care
So What Is Self-Care, Exactly? The World Health Organization Defines It As The Ability Of Individuals, Families, And Communities To Promote Health, Prevent Disease, Maintain Health, And Cope With Illness And Disability With Or Without The Support Of A Healthcare Provider. Self-Care Is About Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices That Support Physical, Emotional, And Mental Well-Being.
Healthy self-care habits include physical activity, healthy eating, avoiding unhealthy behaviors like smoking and excessive drinking, using medication responsibly, and monitoring and addressing symptoms in partnership with a healthcare professional.
However, the broad and disparate activities that fall under the self-care umbrella can lead to definitions becoming unwieldy for practical purposes. For this reason, a framework for self-care can be organized around seven essential “pillars” or “domains,” such as health literacy, mental well-being, physical activity, healthy eating, risk avoidance or mitigation, good hygiene, and responsible use of products and services. It’s not selfish to prioritize your well-being; in fact, it’s essential for maintaining good physical and mental health.
Why is it Important for Our Well being
You know what they say: if you want something done right, do it yourself. And that’s where the baptism of self-care begins, the unapologetic act of taking responsibility for your own health, and your body.
Self-care interventions can include things like counseling, medicine, and digital technologies, and can be accessed either inside or outside of formal health services. The benefits of a good self-care routine are legion. We’re talking reduced anxiety and depression, less stress, more energy, better relationships—the list goes on!
And while some people might think that self-care is just a passing fad, research suggests otherwise. Engaging in self-care can actually change the structure of our neural pathways, leading to better long-term adaptation.
What is Mental Health
Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and make meaningful contributions to their community. It is crucial at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and aging.
An estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older — about 1 in 4 adults — suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Mental health plays a significant role in determining how we handle stress, form and maintain relationships, make healthy choices, and navigate the challenges and opportunities in life. Good mental health is a basic human right and is vital for personal, community, and socio-economic development.
It is important to differentiate between poor mental health and mental illness, as the terms are not synonymous. A person may experience poor mental health without being diagnosed with a mental illness, and conversely, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.
Good mental health is characterized by:
- A sense of self-esteem and confidence
- The ability to manage and express emotions in a healthy way
- A sense of purpose and direction in life
- The capacity to build and maintain healthy relationships
- Flexibility and adaptability to change and adversity
- Effective problem-solving and decision-making skills
- A balance between work, leisure, and personal responsibilities
- The ability to cope with stress and bounce back from setbacks
- A sense of belonging and connection to others
It’s important to note that mental health is not a fixed state, and it can change over time due to various factors such as life experiences, biological factors, and environmental influences. Maintaining and improving mental health requires ongoing self-care, support from others, and, in some cases, professional help.
How Does Self-Care Affect Mental Health?
It all starts with self-awareness – understanding what makes you tick and what triggers your emotions. Armed with this knowledge, you can create a personalized self-care regimen that supports your mental and physical health. Mental self-care is especially vital, with activities like reading, learning, and podcasts keeping your mind sharp and your stress levels low. If you’re living with mental illness, self-awareness can help you soothe negative symptoms and find peace.
But let’s be clear – self-care isn’t a magic pill for physical or mental illness. It takes effort, and during tough times, it can be hard to prioritize. But you should carve out time for meditation or introspection so that you can establish a self-care routine that works for you. Of course, self-care isn’t one-size-fits-all, and what works for someone else might not resonate with you. It takes work, especially if you’re also caring for others, but the payoffs are worth it.
Examples of Mental self-care
According to a nationwide poll, the benefits of self-care include greater self-confidence (64%), higher productivity (67%), and happiness (71%). Here are some examples of self-care activities:
- Engaging in mindfulness or meditation practices
- Learning new things or taking up new hobbies
- Practicing stress management techniques (e.g., deep breathing, visualization)
- Taking breaks from technology and social media
Let’s look at them in depth down below. How do we actually do it and what hobbies do we need to pick up if we are to care for ourselves?
How to Practice Mental Self-Care (12+ Tips)
Practicing mental self-care is essential for maintaining emotional and psychological well-being. Here are some ways you can practice mental self-care:
1. Mindfulness and meditation. Develop a regular mindfulness or meditation practice to help reduce stress, improve focus, and increase self-awareness. Even just a few minutes per day can make a difference.
2. Cognitive reframing. Learn to recognize negative thought patterns and reframe them into more positive, realistic perspectives. This can help reduce anxiety and improve overall mental health.
3. Stress management techniques. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine, such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization.
4. Limit screen time. Practice digital minimalism. Reduce the amount of time spent on digital devices, especially before bedtime, to promote better sleep and reduce mental fatigue.
5. Set boundaries. Establish clear boundaries with others, both personally and professionally, to protect your mental well-being.
6. Engage in hobbies and interests. Pursue activities and hobbies that bring you joy, relaxation, or a sense of accomplishment. This can help boost your mood and cognitive function.
7. Quality Sleep. Prioritize getting enough quality sleep, as poor sleep can negatively affect mental health. Develop good sleep hygiene habits and establish a consistent sleep schedule.
8. Read a book. Reading can be a form of self-care. Taking time to engage in a pleasurable activity, such as reading, can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. It can provide a distraction from negative or intrusive thoughts. When you’re absorbed in a book, your mind is focused on the story, characters, and ideas presented in the text, which can help to alleviate stress and anxiety.
9. Learn music or learn to dance. Research has shown that music can also have a positive impact on various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). dancing can also be beneficial for mental health. Dancing is a form of physical exercise that releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.
10. Touch someone. No, I’m not kidding. Touching someone can help with mental illness by promoting the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is associated with social bonding and relaxation. Oxytocin can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and increase feelings of trust and connection. Touch can also provide a sense of physical comfort and support, which can be particularly helpful for people experiencing emotional distress or loneliness.
11. Connect with others. Build strong social connections with friends and family to foster a sense of belonging and support, which can improve mental well-being.
12. Learn and grow. Continuously engage in personal growth and learning, whether it’s through reading, taking courses, or trying new activities. This can help keep your mind sharp and improve overall mental health.
13. Laugh. Laughter can help with mental illness by promoting the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Laughing can also reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase feelings of relaxation and happiness. It can also promote social connection and communication, which can be helpful for people experiencing social isolation or loneliness. Overall, laughter is a simple and enjoyable way to support mental health and well-being.
Women face unique challenges and stressors, making it crucial for them to prioritize their mental well-being. The conversation surrounding self-care has gained traction in recent years, with an increasing number of resources and support networks becoming available to empower women to take charge of their mental health.
Through various self-care practices such as mindfulness, workouts, nurturing relationships, and seeking professional help when needed, women can foster a balanced and healthy lifestyle that promotes emotional resilience and overall well-being. The widespread recognition of the importance of self-care for women is a testament to the growing awareness and acknowledgment of mental health as a fundamental aspect of overall health and happiness. As we continue to destigmatize conversations around mental health, it is crucial for women to embrace self-care as a vital component of their daily lives, ensuring a more fulfilling and emotionally balanced existence.
Self-Care and Mental Health FAQs
What are some common self-care practices that women can incorporate into their daily routines?
There are various self-care practices women can incorporate into their daily routines, such as:
- Regular exercise releases endorphins and improve mood
- Eating a balanced diet to maintain energy levels and support mental health
- Prioritizing sleep and creating a consistent bedtime routine
- Engaging in relaxation techniques, like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises
- Practicing gratitude and focusing on positive aspects of life
- Making time for hobbies and interests that bring joy and fulfillment
- Connecting with friends and family to maintain a support network
How can women overcome common barriers to self-care?
How does self-care contribute to a woman’s overall empowerment and success?
Self-care contributes to a woman’s overall empowerment and success by helping her to maintain a healthy balance between personal, professional, and social responsibilities. A woman becomes more resilient and better equipped to handle stress and challenges by prioritizing her mental health and well-being. This, in turn, enables her to make better decisions and foster healthier relationships.
For further reading consider the following: