The Importance of Self-Care

A Guide to Mental Health in the Modern World

In this fast paced world, we are often put under a lot of stress to always do our best and constantly produce the best results. Whether that means making a lot of money, keeping perfect grades, impressing your boss, or keeping up with your toddlers, this can seem like a monumental task. In a world that asks so much of us, we are bound to get burned out and worn down. The ingredient often left out of the recipe to success is self-care. No one can be Superman 24/7, 365 days a year, but there are some steps that you can take to maintain your focus and boost your mental health. While self-care will look very different for everyone, here are some tips to get you started.

1. Take a break.

Whether this means taking a mental health day off work every once and a while or calling the sitter for a spa day is up to your schedule. If taking time off is impossible, use your lunch break to focus solely on you. Put some headphones on and listen to that podcast you like, treat yourself to a special meal, and shut out the background noise of your day. Maybe use your child’s naptime as a time to give yourself a pedicure instead of doing the laundry today. Whatever your life looks like, you need to carve out some time to take a break from the stress of your daily routine.

2. Find a hobby.

You should find an activity that is solely for your own enjoyment. Not something that you do for the kids or something that would be good on your resume. Something fun that peaks your interest. If you have always admired your grandfather’s stamp collection or think it might be fun to take some pictures of foliage in the park, go for it. Try something new. Even if it’s something you only do once in a while, it can be something that you begin to look forward to and take pride in.

3. Take yourself on a date night.

While date night with a significant other is about celebrating the relationship you have with that person, taking yourself on a date night is about celebrating the relationship you have with yourself. This might be a new idea for most people. Self-care is a form of self-love and a way to take care of your body and mind. Why not go see that movie by yourself or treat yourself to a cup of coffee at your favorite café? You are worth it and you deserve the best.

4. Make time for friends.

Keeping a social life often falls to the wayside when life gets hectic. For most people, the only interactions they have with others are coworkers and immediate family. Try to carve out a night every week, or every month at least, to have an adult’s night with your friends. Play cards, go to the local bar for Tuesday trivia, or just get together to catch up with a nice bottle of wine. Talking to others about non-work or school related topics is incredibly cathartic. It can be that break your mind needs to reset itself from the constant stress of your daily life.

5. Get in touch with your thoughts and feelings.

In this fast paced world, reflecting on our own inner thoughts and desires is not a priority. However, the key to good mental health is to constantly be checking in on yourself and seeing where you are emotionally. This can take many forms. If you are a fan of meditation with enough time to sit still and reflect internally, then I highly encourage the practice. If sitting still is not your thing but meditation still interests you, then perhaps some yoga could help you regulate your mind and body at the same time. If meditation and internal reflection is a scary concept, start small with some nightly journaling. Be honest with yourself and allow yourself to really feel in that moment. Eventually, this will become second nature and you will be able to be more in control of your feelings and stay on top of your mental health in the moment.

Even if you can only start with one or two of the items on this list, you will already be in a better position than when you started. Remember, self-care is not selfish. You can only give the world as much as you have to offer. If you let your job or your family bleed you dry, then you will not have any more to give. Take the time to care for yourself and renew your mental health and you will have more energy and focus to be as productive as possible in your daily life. 

Alina Gallupe
Alina Gallupe

I am a graduate student studying Mental Health Counseling in Cambridge, MA. Long time reader and novice writer. I strive to combine my mental health knowledge and my love of writing to explore all topics related to the human experience. 

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The Importance of Self-Care