What Does Mental Health Self-Care Look Like? Your Self-Care Toolkit From Trauma Practice

Did you know July 24th is International Self-Care Day?

Self-care is paramount to maintaining healthy relationships, as well as a healthy mind and body. Everyone experiences stress from time to time—and stress is not always a bad thing. For instance, stress can motivate us to study for a test, perform better in sports, and save us from dangerous situations.

But too much stress can take a toll on your basic physiological needs and this is where self-care comes in. With proper coping mechanisms, you’ll be able to manage the way you process stress and stay healthy. So with that in mind, here are eight things you can put in your self-care tool kit to create better mental health self-care:

1. Practice Yoga

The Sanskrit word for yoga is translated as “to yoke,” which means to join. In yoga, you join the mind and the body through your breath.

By taking just 30 minutes to practice yoga on a regular basis, you can cultivate a way to acknowledge that your mind dictates how you handle the intensity of life and you’ll be able to re-program the way you handle difficult situations through intention.

Practicing yoga and intention will help you change your life by allowing you to handle intense moments with clarity, grace, calmness, and presence.

2. Practice Breathing

In many stressful situations, your body can forget to breathe properly. Deep breaths that come from your belly are one of the best mental health self-care practices you can add to your tool kit.

Take time to practice breathing using your diaphragm/belly by lying down on the floor and placing a Kleenex box on your belly. Breathe in for 3 seconds and then breathe out for 3 seconds. The Kleenex box should move up and down as you take these deep breaths.

3. Partake in Brain Exercises

Did you know that left brain/right brain exercises can help calm down your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of your brain used for decision-making? These can be simple exercises like taking a walk, tapping your hands on a table, or using your limbs in some way. You can also acknowledge your five senses to help reduce your heart rate and clear your mind.

Here’s a great exercise to try.

4. Meditate

Meditation is an excellent addition to any self-care tool kit as it’s proven to fight stress, anxiety, and the feeling of being overwhelmed. The best part of meditation is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it, and you can start by committing to just five minutes per day.

If you want to learn more about how to meditate here’s a great resource.

5. Enrich Your Social Life

Having an active social life can improve both your physical health and emotional wellbeing. Seeing friends will help boost your feelings of belonging, purpose, and happiness, which in turn will help reduce stress, loneliness, and anxiety.

Plus, if you’re having problems in your life, talking to a friend or family member can help you feel less troubled and overwhelmed. Talking with someone face to face will also help you feel more connected. So, if you’re looking to enrich your social life as a way to practice self-care you can join a sports team, a choir, a group of like-minded people, or go to a place of worship. Even offering to help someone else will help you stay connected.

6. Laugh

Laughing isn’t just fun, it actually has proven health benefits such as lower blood pressure, reduced stress, improved brain function, improved heart health, and the release of endorphins. If you’re looking to practice more self-care though laughing, you can watch funny videos, go to a stand-up comedy show, or even join a laughing club!

7. Keep a Mood Diary

If you’re having trouble understanding what makes you feel stressed or anxious, then a great addition to any self-care toolkit is a mood diary. By keeping track of your moods in a diary, you’ll be able to determine what makes you feel better or worse and you can take steps to avoid, change, or prepare for any stressful situations.

You can create your own mood diary, use one of the many freely available mood diaries on the internet, or even download a mood diary app for your phone.

8. Try Peer Support

Sometimes undergoing a mental health problem makes you feel alone and like no one understands. In this case, peer support groups can be hugely beneficial. Peer support groups bring together people who have had similar experiences in a supportive environment.

By joining a peer support group for your specific mental health problem, you’ll increase feelings of being accepted for who you are and boost your self-confidence. It’ll also help you meet new people, and you can use your experience to help others.

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Practice Self-Care with Trauma Practice

If you have experienced any kind of trauma, the information on this page will also be helpful to you. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Don’t be afraid to seek help.

At Trauma Practice, we believe that promoting health through research creates better access to trauma-informed mental health care and offers better services for those in need. We aim to improve the conversation using safe venues that are focused on trauma-informed care, with widely shared up-to-date and accurate information.

Part of practicing self-care is creating an open dialogue where we can work together to reduce the stigma and isolation of those who suffer. By donating once or monthly to Trauma Practice, you’ll help us pay it forward and help others on the path of trauma recovery. Donate today.