We all know we have to look after our mental health right? And that self-care is the panacea to all our mental health woes? But what does that actually mean? And what do we actually need to do to ensure that we stay mentally healthy?
As a practicing mental health counsellor one of the most asked questions I get, (after -“What do you counsel in?” What? Huh? Wha..I don’t understand the question!) Is,
“Just exactly how do I do this, Gerry? Take care of my mental health?”
Thanks to the magic of the media, mental health and wellbeing have become somewhat conflated (not all bad news – holistic wellness is the future) and the socials would have us all believe that not a minute of the day should go by where we’re not doing something to improve ourselves and our lives.
Truth is; wellbeing has become a multi million pound business and none of us are immune to the lure of the Holy Trinity of health, wealth and happiness. Still, we may be part of the glamour of this business called show, but most don’t have the wherewithal to splurge on the latest hot trends for, Bünda classes, Moon Juice’s Holy Yoni (really, this is a thing), Energy healing treatments or Marine Phytoplankton (do I sprinkle this on my quinoa?)
Where does one find the time? Or the money? Of course, if you’re Harry Styles, * a ‘Sheep Placenta Facial’ (urgh, Harry…just, no!) is a mere snip at £325. Gwyneth Paltrow’s fondness for ‘face ironing’ (Gywnnie, you’re the gift that keeps on giving) is pocket change for her at £3,200 a throw. But where’s the cash-strapped artiste to find the money for such frivolities?
The good news? 2019 is all about getting real about what is doable on a daily basis and for those that want off the proverbial treadmill – this new wave of self-care involves reclaiming your time, giving yourself all the self-care, love and nurturing you need, to ensure you stay on track, on budget, mentally healthy and good to go.
When it comes to physical health, there probably isn’t a person here that can’t quote the need for 5 x fruit and veg a day and 3 x 30 pulse raising minutes of exercise a week. But what’s the magic formula for keeping our heads healthy? Well, in true American Guru style fashion, please allow me to give you my 321 formula for that very thing.
321 Formula for a summer of self-love
The most important thing to remember with this plan is that none of your activities should be work-related. You’re looking to get out of your head and relax. Wasting time is allowed! And the really great thing about a self-care plan is that you can tailor it to fit your individual needs.
Daily = 3- Self-love activities (SLA’s) lasting 15 minutes each
The first thing to do is to make your personal list of SLA’s. The challenge is to make them free or as cheap as possible. For example, my list includes: have a cup of tea in the garden, manicure my nails, do a jigsaw (if it’s good enough for David Mitchell, it’s good enough for me), read a book, walk around the block, watch some comedy on YouTube…you get the idea. I’ve found from working with busy mums, that 15 minutes feels doable and an amount of time they can handle taking – guilt free! If you can only choose one part of this plan to follow – make it this! Keep your list handy so that you have ideas at the ready.
Weekly = 2- Self love activities lasting 60 minutes each
For this part of the plan,classes such as meditation, yoga or dance are great for leaving you in a nice headspace. Likewise a game of football, tennis or a nice long walk. And for those of you who are stuck for childcare, a long hot soak in a bubble bath with candles, or an hour in your own living room to stretch, meditate, or read a book. Try to pick the same two hours each week, perhaps one midweek night and an hour at the weekend, whatever fits for you and stick to it (as much as work will allow). Again this emphasis is on getting out of your normal headspace. Absolutely no pumping iron or spinning classes allowed! We’re looking to increase endorphins not cortisol!
Monthly = 1-Self-love (new) activity, which lasts as long as it lasts!
Remember this activity is NOT about challenging or stretching yourself, or getting out of your comfort zone in any way. It’s simply about enjoying doing or learning something new. Going to that museum or art gallery that you’ve never visited, taking a day away somewhere, going to a class on macramé, a wine tasting, a trip with friends. The lovely thing about switching off in this way is that it allows you to recharge your batteries and recharged batteries lead to you being able to get creative. So it’s a win win. You get to relax and come back prepared to work with a head full of ideas and a body ready to deliver.
“What’s the point of all this, Gerry?” I hear you ask. I’ll tell you! By doing nice things for yourself, you’re sending a message to your brain that says, “I’m worthy, I’m loved, I deserve this.” Our brain responds to all the messages we give them – good or bad. The natural by-product of self-loving and self-care therefore, is increased self-esteem and confidence. And cake! Enjoy!
Do let us know what self-love activities you come up with for your list and share with the community. You never know, this could be the perfect place to get that crochet circle started!
*Note to self: If I ever meet Harry Styles it’s a handshake for me.