Are you looking for free self care for mental health ideas?
How are we supposed to focus on self care for mental health when we are feeling stressed, suffering from depression or too busy or broke to adjust or lives?
The National Alliance on Mental Health suggests that one in 5 US adults experience mental illness in a given year and 1 in 25 adults suffer from a mental illness that substantially interfere with major life activities.
These numbers are staggering.
If you work with 25 people, that means that 5 of them are currently suffering from mental illness, and at least one is partially debilitated by it! (It’s me, you guys. I’m the one who is debilitated, haha!)
Yet in today’s world we are supposed to be everything to everyone, be successful, stay busy (because business is valued!).
As a woman I am supposed to work like I’m single and be full time mom like I don’t have a job. I am supposed to nurture, provide, be a superstar everyday and then have time to “take care of myself.”
Self care is crucial for mental health, but how am I supposed to fit it in? If I am struggling mentally I might have a hard time organizing my time, especially if I have a more serious mental illness I am trying to treat.
Maintaining self care for mental health is all about integrating manageable activities into our day to day lives. We don’t have to spend money and we don’t have to block out hours of our day.
And remember: being busy is not a virtue. Be easy on yourself.
If someone you have not seen for a while asks how you are and your answer is, “You, know, just been busy,” this might be an indication that you could benefit from rearranging your schedule to find some time margin in your life. But that topic is for another day!
Here are some suggestions on self care for mental health that are simple and affordable.
Create a Safe Space
This can mean creating cozy in a room of your home with candles, pleasant things, images that make you happy… Whatever that means to you. It might just be a yoga mat in an uncrowded space that is always available. The idea is to have somewhere that is set up for you to have “quiet time.”
I am a huge advocate of meditation.
If the idea of sitting quietly alone for several minutes makes you want to gouge your eyes out, try guided meditations. I found them really useful when starting out to have something to focus on besides the squirrel running around in my head.
Nurture Good Sleep Habits
I know this is easier said than done, but getting enough sleep is vital self care for mental health. If you are under rested it is easy to get sick, be overwhelmed, not be able to focus. My problems and lack of ability to handle them are always magnified when I am tired. If you are busy this can be difficult. If you are restless at night, try getting up for a few minutes and changing scenery before going back to bed.
Don’t let the bedroom become a place you don’t sleep. Get the TV out of your bedroom and leave your phone in another room on a charger. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, just keep the phone out of reach or spend eight bucks on a cheap clock.
It is worth it to build good habits to achieve better rest.
Allow Yourself to Cry
Tears that you cry while releasing emotions are chemically different than what comes out when your eyes are simply watering. You are literally releasing hormones when you cry which is why it makes you feel better. Sometimes I really need to cry, and it can be hard when I feel the need to release coming but I am making dinner for the kids or sitting at my desk. Allow yourself to step away. I am lucky to have a husband who is so supportive of me freely expressing my emotions, especially crying.
If you just can’t step away, schedule a cry session. This may sound really dumb, but I’m serious. Pick a night, put on a super depressing Hallmark movie and cry until you can’t anymore. You need to allow yourself to release those emotions and hormones.
Being honest emotionally is a huge part of self care for mental health.
Do Something Fun
One of my favorite things about having children are all the opportunities I naturally have throughout my day to play. This can be difficult when I am tired, but find something fun that you all enjoy.
Maybe it is a silly board game, maybe it is tag or sitting and coloring. Maybe playing for you is going out by yourself and taking a hike in a nature preserve. Exercise or physical activity is great for mental health. Call a friend you have not seen in a while and go to lunch or an arcade.
The idea is to integrate recreation into your life.
Surround Yourself with Positivity
I recently deleted Facebook from my phone. While I love seeing photos of my friends’ dogs and kids, the first day of kindergarten, people’s Christmas photos – I also had a hard time filtering the negativity in between. I really love seeing the positivity in people’s lives. It’s too bad that social media is riddled with negativity I just don’t need to see.
There is a difference between getting passionate about something I have the ability to be proactive about and reading news feeds that make me angry, sad, disgusted, horrified… that I can’t do anything about.
It is okay to delete negativity from your life and surround yourself with positive people and things. Focus on consuming positive news (generally not the type of news that our local stations prefer to zoom in on.)
Distance yourself from negative people in your life, even if it’s just temporary while you get yourself a bit back together again. Self care for mental health does not mean pleasing everyone else in your life.
It’s time to focus on yourself and your needs.
Self Care For Mental Health
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