“Self-care is how you take your power back.”
– Lalah Delia
To end this week’s series on mental health, I thought that I would talk about self-care and how I take control of my mental health.
Mental health is one of those things that society tends to look over. We all like to focus on our physical health (working out, eating healthy, etc.), but what about our mental health? I find that mental health can be split into a few categories: emotional, social, and intellectual. If all three of these categories are stable, then I don’t have any problems, but if they aren’t the depression and anxiety starts.
So, how do we take of ourselves within these categories?
Emotions are something that can really throw us off. This is normally what gets me spiraling out of control in terms of mental health. Taking care of your emotions can be really difficult, especially if those emotions are REALLY strong. Here are some of my tips for emotional self-care.
Cry it out
I know that this can be a bit difficult, but if you already feel like you’re going to cry, let it all out. As humans, we tend to hold in our emotions and sometimes the littlest of things can push us over the edge. Crying will help you let go of those emotions.
If you’re in public and you don’t want to start bawling, maybe find a bathroom or something where you can be alone and just cry. This may be hard, especially if you’re in college. There have been countless times where I wanted to cry at school, but all the bathrooms always have someone in it.
What I do instead is let a few tears out at a time. This can be really difficult if you don’t know how to do it. Generally, I take a breath and tears just come out. I breathe through my tears.
Make sure you hydrate after you do any sort of crying, even if it’s happy. By crying, you’re using the water in your body, so you’ll become dehydrated after it. Drink a glass of water!
I’ll talk more about this next week, but meditation is something that really helps me with really strong emotions. There’s something about sitting there and letting your thoughts pass and focusing on your breath that works wonders for making strong emotions feel manageable.
Another form of meditation that I like to do when I’m experiencing strong emotions is praying. Philippians 4:6 says “[d]o not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (NRSV). This verse is powerful because God will take a hold of all of our struggles and guide us to where we need to be. If we pray and thank God, then we don’t need to worry about anything because it’s all in God’s hands.
For me, this goes hand in hand with meditation and prayer. Once I get to a place where I can manage these emotions, I open up Evernote (because I electronically journal) and write down all of my thoughts. Sometimes, my journaling is a prayer, but other times it’s a brain dump.
Recently, my journals have been about confusion and loneliness. These journals have mostly taken form of prayer. There’s something about writing down my prayers that really helps me get through the worst. When you write down your thoughts, there is a buffer for your thoughts. You can clearly see what your thinking and evaluate those thoughts to best suit your needs.
This area of mental health has to do with every single relationship you have. “How is this part of my mental health?” you might ask. Well, I’m here to tell you that your social relationships are a key factor in mental health. If you surround yourself with the right people, your mental health will be amazing.
Let go of toxic relationships
A toxic relationship can be defined as a relationship between two people where there is frequent competition, conflict, and lack of respect and cohesiveness. If you notice any of these things in any of your relationships, let go. There is nothing better than leaving someone who is causing problems to your mental health.
Surround yourself with people who you admire
I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, going off this philosophy, you should spend the most time with people who you admire. If you’re spending most of your time with someone who you don’t particularly want to be like in any way whatsoever, I would suggest you spend less time with them. Spend time with people who want you to succeed and form healthy habits.
Make some friends
If you’re anything like me, you may be suffering from loneliness. You have a group of friends in one place and you’re in another. You also may have trouble talking to new people. This can be really difficult. In my post “Being Shy, yet Social,” I explain that knowing where your priorities lie can help you make some amazing friends. This post also has some really good tips for making some really amazing friends.
Intellectual and Spiritual Health
This may not be as big of a problem for some people, but keeping up with your intellectual and spiritual health can really help with pretty much everything.
I would totally suggest to find a spiritual practice that works well for you. Now, spirituality is not the same as religion. My spiritual well being is grounded in yoga, meditation, prayer, and ayurveda. These practices allow me to connect my mind to my heart and my soul.
Learn something new
I find that when I’m not learning, I’m extremely bored. There’s something about learning that sparks creativity within me. There are plenty of sites where you can learn a plethora of different things for free. If you’re still in school, spend some time doing your homework and diving deeper into topics that interest you from your classes.
The ability to read is something that we take for granted. Spend some time every day reading. I don’t care what you read; it could be a scientific journal, a picture book, a young adult novel, or some sort of smutty fanfiction. Whatever you choose to read, read it. Every day. You will expand your mind and live in different universes. You will expand your creative power and get inspired.
Hopefully you enjoyed this longer post on self care and mental health. I pray that you live a healthy life and spend some time to take care of yourself.
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Lots of love,