self-care tools

Be kind to your mind

The care we give to ourselves plays an essential role in how happy and healthy our minds are.

Self-care is about spending your time doing those activities that you happily chose to do. That revive and nourish you, and that help restore and bring balance to your body, mind, and spirit.

If we can nurture healthy self-care practices in our lives, it can help us to recover from difficulties that we might be facing, and to also become more resilient for when we meet challenging times in the future.

Self-care is so unique to each individual, and it can take time to discover what it is that nourishes and revives you. Too often people find that they neglect their own self-care.

This part of the website regularly shares a self-care idea that you might like to try. You are likely to find that some of these self-care ideas and practices really appeal to you, but equally you might discover those self-care practices that are not very beneficial to you personally.

Whatever the outcome of giving some of these ideas a try, you will gain the knowledge and wisdom of how to uniquely care for your body, mind, and spirit. A skill that is sure to enhance and enrich your entire life.


Exercise

small image exerciseIt’s won’t be a great surprise to anyone to read that exercise plays a key role in keeping our minds and bodies healthy and well.

In some studies it has been proven to be as effective as antidepressants in treating low mood and depression.

 

Mental Health Ireland lists a few of the benefits of exercise as:

  • less tension, stress and mental fatigue
  • a natural energy boost
  • improved sleep
  • a sense of achievement
  • focus in life and motivation
  • less anger or frustration
  • a healthy appetite
  • better social life
  • having fun

Two key points that I think are important to make in relation to exercise:

Firstly some people don’t find exercise very appealing. I think sometimes the reason for this is that we can narrowly define what exercise is. For example we associate exercise only with going to the gym and that thought makes us want to dive right for the couch.

Think a bit more broadly about exercise. What do you like to do? For example you might really enjoy dancing, but you haven’t considered how this could be a great form of exercise for you. Do you prefer to be outdoors? There are so many fun outdoor exercises that you could chose to do. Do you find that having company when exercising makes it more enjoyable? Connect with a friend and agree to go to a weekly class together that you both enjoy.

Finally, think action and then motivation. Sometimes we may put off exercise because we don’t feel like doing it. We think we need to find the motivation first. However the reverse is often actually true when it comes to exercise. First we take the action to exercise, even if we don’t feel like it, and it is only then that we actually feel motivated and encouraged to exercise.


Mindfulness

small buddha

A great deal of research has been carried out on Mindfulness. It has been proven to be a key tool in preventing relapse into depression. The work of Williams, Teasdale, and Segal into mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) found that following the completion of an 8 week MBCT programme, participants were 40 – 50% less likely to experience depression when a follow up was carried out 12 months later.

It is therefore an excellent self-care tool for those who have experienced depression or other mental health difficulties in the past. It is important to note however that if right now you are currently experiencing a very difficult period or relapse into depression, it may be best to wait until this period has passed to start a formal mediation practice.

Many people can be led to believe that mindfulness is only a formal meditation practice. Mindfulness is far more than this. It is a way of being in your life.

Jon Kabat-Zinn one of the most renowned gurus in relation to mindfulness would say

“I like to think of mindfulness simply as the art of conscious living”

The natural activity of the mind is to think, to wander off into memories, thoughts, concerns, daydreams etc, and as a result we can often find that we are not present to what is actually happening in our lives. As well as that we can often get swept away by strong thoughts and emotions that cause us a lot of unnecessary worry and difficulties.

By cultivating a more mindful attitude, we let go of a lot of unnecessary worries and concerns and we give our minds and body an opportunity to rest.

Insight Timer is an excellent app for your mobile phone that will help you establish a formal mindfulness or meditation practice. There are also so many great sources of information available online about mindfulness and I really encourage you to explore some of the information available if it is an area of interest to you.


Put pen to paper!

image of journal and pen

Many people find that journaling can be an extremely cathartic exercise.

When we are struggling with an emotional difficulty, we often find that the same thoughts are repeated and replayed in our minds, and despite the time that our mind is giving to the problem, we do not get any closer to resolving our difficulty.

This is where journaling can be really helpful. Writing freely about whatever it is that is troubling us, provides us with an outlet to release some of the intense thoughts, feelings and emotions that we are experiencing.

Seeing our thoughts on paper provides us with a better understanding of our difficulties and our inner world. It also allows us to gain clarity, and with such clarity we are more likely to be able to identity a positive way forward in whatever it is that we are facing.

Sometimes for whatever reason a person may find it difficult to write freely in a journal. In such cases, writing your thoughts down and then tearing up the paper or burning it afterwards can be helpful. Or perhaps writing with a keyboard might work better for you.

I invite you to give writing a try in whatever shape or form that appeals to you, and if you find that it is helpful, you will have discovered an important way to bring greater care and love to yourself.