Despite what you may see on social media, self-care is about more than just face masks and bubble baths.
In fact, the official definition of self-care provided by the World Health Organization doesn’t mention anything about these particular things at all! So where did social media influencers and brands get the idea that self-care is all about spa days?
Since mental health is a part of your holistic health, and promoting and maintaining health is the definition of self-care, it’s likely that the relaxation associated with spa treatments is how bath bombs and masks became synonymous with the idea of self-care. But that doesn’t make them the only forms of self-care, nor are they a one-size-fits-all approach to mental self-care!
So, what are some other ways we can practice self-care for our mental health?
Practice Physical Self-Care
Yes, this might look like an advanced skincare routine or fancy bath supplies. But on particularly bad days, this can also look like what others consider the “bare minimum”: making sure you eat regular meals and snacks, brushing your hair and teeth, taking a regular shower to wash off the grime of the day.
Physical self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive; it can be as simple as taking a nap when you need rest. Listen to the cues from your body, and take care of your physical needs. It’s much easier for your mind to heal when your body isn’t fighting for attention.
Invest Time in Things You Enjoy
Self-care can be as easy as setting aside an hour or so to do something that brings you joy. Read a good book, go for a walk, invest time in your art. What sets your soul on fire? Find that spark, and chase it. These are the things that will feed your well-being.
When you make time for things that you love, you are making time for your own happiness. Remember that your own happiness does not take a backseat to the happiness of others, and your “hobbies” can be just as important to spend time on as your occupation and social demands.
Keep a Journal
Contrary to popular belief, journaling is not just for adolescent girls. When you journal, you give voice to and validate your personal experience. It can provide insight into your perspective on situations, as well as being a valuable tool to both observe and manage your mental health.
Journaling can look like recording the happenings of your day, writing your thoughts on specific topics, or just writing down your thoughts and feelings as they occur. There is no wrong or right way to journal, and it can be a huge benefit to your mental health.
Schedule Your Appointments
Scheduling appointments with a mental health professional is an obvious investment into your mental self-care, but it goes beyond just therapy. Going back to your physical self-care, it’s also important to take the time to schedule and attend your routine medical appointments!
Stay on top of your regular dental, optical, dermatological, and general health visits, and if you see a specialist for any medical conditions, be sure to make time for those, too! Medical appointments seem to be one of the first things that we cut when we need time for an occupational or social demand, saying that it can wait. Prioritizing your physical health by not pushing those appointments is a way to provide long-term support for your mental health.
Create and Utilize a Support System
It’s always a good idea to invest in a support system! Spending time with friends and family that you can talk about real things with is critical to providing ongoing mental health support. Having people that you can depend on, who also know they can depend on you, is a kind of camaraderie and comfort that can get you through some of the hardest days.
It’s also good to extend your support system outside of your immediate social circle and healthcare professionals; sometimes you really do need a relative stranger that has shared experiences to make things better! Punk Rock Saves Lives has created multiple peer support groups for this purpose. From addiction to mental illness, know that you are not alone and that we see you and are here for you to lean on.