Is your mental health suffering?
If you feel that you struggling right now and your mental health is suffering then please consider integrating some radical self-care into your life and daily routine.
Applying self-care tips can really help with the overwhelm when our mental health is suffering.
How do I know if my mental health is suffering?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I feeling easily irritated and frustrated? Do I feel the tension in my body?
- Do I feel any sense of sadness or emptiness within myself? Does this feel prolonged? Am I crying more than usual? Or am I numbing out and spacing out more than usual? Do I feel very easily overwhelmed?
- Am I feeling a lot of anxiety, fear and dread at the moment? Is this stopping me from going out or doing things I enjoy?
- Are there any changes in your eating, drinking and sleeping habits?
If these questions resonated with you, then at this point in your life, self-care is crucial, if not vital.
I want to give you some ideas on how to integrate self-care into your busy life.
I found these ideas useful when I was struggling with overwhelm and burnout.
What do I mean by radical self-care?
Radical self-care is about intentional acts of caring for yourself and nurturing your inner child. I believe it is radical because in today’s society taking care of oneself can often seem selfish and indulgent. Women especially struggle to self-care, often prioritizing others over themselves. Taking care of yourself isn’t always easy, and sometimes it can feel like the last thing we want to do. The more we are struggling with our mental health the more we may stop taking care of ourselves. Often, we chose to self-loath, self-sabotage and self-harm instead. When self-care is the last thing we feel like doing it’s time to stop and start integrating self-care in our daily lives.
What does this mean for you?
Integrating intentional acts of daily self-care can leave you feeling:
- More in control
- More Present
This in turn will give you the strength to handle the stuff you have no control over.
It will put you in a stronger position to navigate the anxiety, the dread and the overwhelm.
In other words, radical self care can improve your mental health.
The good news about radical self-care is that you’re taking control of your life and day to day experiences and not taking the stance of passive victim.
I gently invite you to think about how you take care of others in your life – can you take care of yourself in that way? You see, sometimes we weren’t parented very well as children, and sometimes we need to parent ourselves. Through daily acts of intentional self-care, we can parent ourselves. It’s respectful, loving and compassionate.
If you struggle to take care of yourself, then permit yourself to. Try it as an experiment. Keep a journal of your feelings and lived experience and see what difference it makes.
What acts can you do daily to take care of yourself lovingly and compassionately?
How I go about self-care- and how YOU can too!
One day I sat in Hyde Park with a notepad and pen and wrote down exactly what I was feeling and then decided I no longer wanted to feel like this. I wrote down a list of actions I could take, a sort of manifesto.
These are the actions I took and how they helped me:
I established a morning and evening routine to include meditation, yoga and exercise.
A routine brought structure to my day, which is calming. It brings meaning and purpose to the morning and evening. Meditation, yoga and exercise all seemed to calm my mind and helped bring some clarity to my experience. It meant I stopped fighting with myself and instead learnt to be more accepting of what I was going through.
Create and write down your routine and think of it as a daily practice, not a chore! If it’s a chore, you won’t do it.
I prepared and cooked for myself three nutritious meals a day.
Feeding yourself healthy food will make your body feel better, it will bring you more energy, and this will then have a positive impact on other areas of your life. The intention of feeding ourselves healthy food means we are respecting our body. I feel it is loving and compassionate. I also gave up drinking alcohol, which is a depressant. There are groups and organizations which can support you in this if this is what you need.
Can’t cook? Discover your favourite cookbook or connect with a friend or a family member who prepares delicious meals and see if they can give you some tips
I showered or bathed every day.
Grooming yourself and taking time each day to connect with our body and with our self can reduce stress and sends our body a message that it is worthy of love. Grooming improves self-esteem, which may be at rock bottom at this point. A bath or a shower can be part of your daily routine.
Discover and buy your favourite soaps, bubble baths, products and scented candles. Take a cup of herbal tea in the tub. I found listening to podcasts in the bath was a singular act of indulgence.
I wrote a journal before bedtime to keep track of my feelings and thoughts.
Writing down what you are honestly thinking and feeling can help reduce the overwhelm and create a slight distance between you are your experience. Sometimes we can be so immersed in our experience we lose perspective. Reading and writing our thoughts can create a different perspective as well as help us see any changes in our experience.
Buy a beautiful notebook and pen for this precise purpose and keep it with you. Or use your notes on your iPhone.
I got rid of any old threadbare clothes and had a spring clean
It’s amazing how what we wear and how much our environment can affect how we are feeling. Having the intention of choosing to be surrounded by good wholesome things and wearing beautiful and nourishing clothes gives us a sense of control and of being proactive. I wouldn’t dress my son in threadbare clothes and let him play in a room surrounded by broken toys, so why would I do that to myself?
Donating to charity or recycling on Freecycle means you’re bringing service to the community.
I listened to music I loved as much as I could.
Listening to music can reduce stress, helps you eat less, can improve your memory, improve your motivation and help you sleep. Well, this is how it seems to help me.
Create a playlist of all the music that makes you feel good.
I took myself on dates.
Dates I took myself on included the cinema, fringe theatre, the National Portrait Gallery, many different parks, and the Tate Modern. It felt sometimes freeing and sometimes lonely but not having to think about another person and only having myself to please was an empowering experience.
There are so many events going on. Check out Event Brite and take yourself out on a date. See it as research, write a blog about it, review it or enjoy it!
I took a break from social media.
Social media can affect how we feel and view ourselves and others. It can make us feel like everyone else is having a good time, and we are not. If everyone else is having such a great time and we are not, then we can be left feeling isolated and alone — all painful emotions. Not everyone can be having a great time all the time.
If social media is feeding the anxiety, dread or insecurity, then come off it.
I wrote a gratitude list every morning.
Writing a list of ten things we are grateful for each morning can challenge us to broaden our experience and acknowledge the good things that are going on within you and around you. Especially if we are not feeling particularly grateful. A lack of gratitude can part of the depression and anxiety, which can be pretty sneaky and lie to us and tell us that everything is terrible.
We can always feel gratitude towards something in our lives, however small or mundane. Building gratitude can fight the negative messages of depression and anxiety.
I connected with a therapist
When I was struggling, I had to admit that I couldn’t recover and heal on my own. I needed someone else to share with and work through my struggle.
Reaching out for help is one of the hardest things we can do but can be incredibly healing in itself. Take your time to find the right fit for you.
Self-care practices is only a part of the story.
Use these self-care ideas alongside therapy and see what difference it can make to your energy.
The above list is what worked for me and was created by me. Only you know the best way you can take care of yourself.
So, let’s have a pause.
Take three deep breaths, close your eyes and mentally scan your body. Sit with yourself for a few minutes and ask yourself the question, what do I need right now? Is there anything more I can do to take better care of myself?
Write down whatever comes up for you, and that’s your first step. I hope life starts to feel more effortless for you soon. I really hope that by applying radical self-care you can improve your mental health and suffer less.
If you would like to have a consultation for psychotherapy, then please get in touch.