Due to the constant stress of life, sometimes people need to just take a step back and focus on themselves. Looking after your mental and physical well-being is extremely important and is often overlooked.
In the rare times that one does focus on self-care, it is usually at a critical stage where one feels forced to take a break. In situations like this, ways of taking care of oneself can be more akin to self-punishment.
If your goal is to lead a happy and successful life, the key may lie in taking care of your mental health. Simple changes in daily routine and fun DIYs can elevate your mental health and lead to more productive days for you and your family.
The idea of self-punishment is deeply rooted in the fact that many people are conditioned to believe that we must complete tasks that we have set for ourselves in a particular duration. Failure to do so results in acts of punishment for ourselves, which can be troubling for one’s mental health.
Listed below are some ways in which we can love ourselves better and be mindful of the thin but dangerous line between self-care and self-punishment.
1. Start journaling
Journaling is a great way to process your thoughts and emotions. It can have benefits ranging from improving creativity to boosting memory. Studies have shown that journaling can help tremendously with anxiety. By writing and organizing your thoughts and goals, you may feel more in control, therefore easing anxiety.
Journaling also helps strengthen communication and writing skills. Writing down ideas or thoughts in a flow helps filter out unnecessary information and can make you a more efficient communicator.
A journal doesn’t necessarily have to be any specific kind. It could range from a reading journal to a gratitude journal, leisure, or academic. Depending on the day and your current mental health state, choose a journaling type that will cater to your specific needs and ultimately make you feel relaxed and at ease. For example, journaling when angry can potentially decrease stress.
2. Improve your cooking skills
Cooking is a skill that many have toyed around with, especially during pandemic-related lockdown measures. Cooking can be a fantastic stress reliever. It’s a part of your day that breaks the daily routine.
Whenever energy levels are down and stress levels are high, cooking is a great option to switch things up. It can be even better with a partner. Cooking with a partner can polish communication skills and help you set a fixed time solely for your partner.
Cooking is also one of those activities that have no set rules; you can play around and combine ingredients of your choice to create something completely new and unique. It is a very stimulating process and is linked to low-stress levels and good sleep. Cooking is a form of art; therefore, with practice, it can increase confidence levels and the ability to rise to challenges.
3. Watch reruns of your favorite shows or movies
This is a remedy that has been practiced long before it got attached to the label of self-care. Watching your favorite TV show or movie when you’re stressed or just looking to take a break can be extremely refreshing for your brain and can increase willpower to get through your day.
For people living with anxiety, watching reruns of their favorite shows can help reduce the aftereffects of an anxiety attack, as they know what happens next. This can aid in their peace of mind. The brain sometimes prefers shows that you have watched before, as they are comforting and provide nostalgia triggers that make you feel relaxed, especially when you’re stressed.
Watching these reruns with friends/family can provide additional benefits to your mental health by providing a safe and comfortable space with the people most important to you. Routinely setting aside 30 minutes of your day to watch a rerun and have a snack could be beneficial to both your mental and physical health. FRIENDS and Harry Potter are some cult favorites that you can check out!
4. Reward yourself
The act of rewarding yourself when you’ve tried your best, even if scheduled tasks of the day aren’t completed, is an act of self-love and self-care that can be very important for overall physical and mental well-being. The benefits of taking a step back and rewarding yourself for all that you have achieved instead are innumerable.
Rewarding yourself makes your brain feel loved. It motivates you to get back up and do better. This technique is also a great way for procrastinators to give up this habit that can turn into a vicious cycle.
Setting small rewards for yourself after a considerable amount of task completion has proven to boost dopamine, our happy hormones. The idea of receiving a reward at the end of something is a fantastic motivator. Taking a step back to organize activities and rewards for the day helps people plan and use their time and energy effectively.
Contrary to popular belief, a reward doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be reading your favorite book, listening to an old song, and even talking and telling yourself that you did a great job today. It can be anything that makes you happy and helps you relax or unwind after a long day.
5. Stay active
Your physical health is often linked to your mental well-being. Staying active, hydrated, and getting enough sun are proven to be great forms of self-care. Exercising releases endorphins that provide both physical and mental wellness. Regular exercise also results in sharper memory and better reaction time.
Meditation can also be very helpful as breathing exercises that ease anxiety. Staying active doesn’t always have to mean a yoga mat and exercise videos. It can also just be taking a walk or putting on your favorite song, maybe dancing to the beat. If you’re working, remember to take stretch breaks every once in a while to ease a little tension.
Exercising is also a fantastic wake-up call. A 15-minute stretch before an exam or a meeting can get your brain going faster than a cup of coffee. Exercising regularly has numerous benefits, particularly that it keeps hormones in check and therefore, keeps your body in control. Poor mental health could be the result of leading an unhealthy, inactive lifestyle. Small changes in activity can be a great first step and a wonderful form of self-care.
Talk around mental health and the act of self-care may be considered uncomfortable to some, but it is something extremely important to support one’s mental and physical well-being; they require maintenance and care, just like any other facet of life.
The means to easing anxiety, stress, and other such issues can be within one’s own abilities, starting by reorganizing and reevaluating one’s priorities and choices. If you stick with it, you’ll often find yourself in a happier and more successful space.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.