Self-Preservation, Not Selfishness: The Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care
Author: Brad Krause
Despite its importance, many people fail to practice self-care due to a perceived lack of time or energy, or because they just don’t see the need for it. Self-care boosts self-esteem, enhances self-awareness, promotes rest and relaxation, and it’s just plain fun—all of which are important to your mental well-being. There’s no one “right way” to practice self-care; whatever gives you joy is a good choice. Here are a few starters to help get you thinking about self-care as a source of mental health.
- Shower therapy
If you like to shower in the morning, take a few extra minutes after you’ve bathed to clear your thoughts and relax before jumping into another hectic work day. Close your eyes, let the water roll off your back, focus on a peaceful image, or repeat a word or phrase you find soothing. Concentrate on your breathing. Showering is a good way to orient yourself and begin the day on a calming note, but nighttime showers can also help you get a good night’s sleep by making you feel relaxed.
- L.A. staycation
Nearby Los Angeles is renowned worldwide for gracious living, incomparable sightseeing opportunities and world-class amenities. There are also plenty of low-key vacation or “staycation” opportunities to be found in rental properties in one of the Los Angeles area’s popular neighborhoods. Whether you choose laid-back Santa Monica or hip Silverlake, you’re certain to find a getaway that allows you to enjoy the climate and scenery in comfortable, affordable surroundings. Plus you’ll save money by not having to eat out every day while enjoying healthy meals made in the kitchen.
- Animal bonding
It’s a scientific fact that spending time around animals can bring joy and relieve stress. It’s even been said that listening to a cat’s purring can alleviate emotional tension, a major impediment to good mental health. Make time for walks with your dog, spend some time hanging out with your feline friend, or if you don’t have a furry friend at home, consider volunteering at your local Humane Society or pet store.
Indulging your creative self can also be a relaxing and rewarding way to spend time. Drawing, painting, writing or building something involves your mind completely and forces all that stress and those negative thoughts into the background for a while. Creativity is good for the brain because it boosts higher-process thinking, conceptual thinking, and critical and deductive reasoning.
- Social interaction
Sharing your thoughts and discussing concepts and ideas with others can be a highly beneficial activity. Consider setting up a regular weekly get-together with friends at a favorite coffee shop or book store, or join a group counseling session or an online community that discusses subjects in which you have an interest. Socializing is a great way to make new friends and keep your intellect engaged.
- Decluttering your living environment
Clutter is a major source of stress for many people. If you find it unsettling to come home everyday to a chaotic mess, make it a regular goal to clean and organize your home. Identify objects that can be given away or thrown out. Look for stylish and useful home storage solutions to keep the rest of your things organized. Decluttering boosts productivity and creativity, so give it a try at the office as well. Everyone needs an escape to maintain good mental health. Make time for activities that divert you from the stress-inducing pressures of a busy work and home life. Don’t feel guilty or selfish about practicing self-care; it’s all about self-preservation.