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Take Care of Yourself So You Can Be There for Others

Published in Behavioral Health Services, Women's Services, Mental Health, Men's Health, For the Health of It, Suicide Prevention Author: Lisa Bershok, MSW, LICSW, CentraCare Suicide Prevention Program Manager

Your mental health is no different than your physical health.

Just like you do things every day to stay physically healthy — brushing your teeth, eating well, going to the doctor — there are things you can do on a regular basis to stay mentally healthy.

We all have mental health, it affects how we think, feel and act every day. However, mental health is often ignored until something is going wrong. The best way to prevent that is to pay attention to your mental health even when you’re feeling OK or even good. We all have days when we feel better than others. And just like with our physical health, we can all do things that make us mentally healthier.

Mental health plays a big role in your overall well-being. When you’re mentally healthy, you can enjoy your life and the people in it, feel good about yourself, keep up good relationships, and manage stress. It’s normal for your mental health to shift over time. Creating positive habits is a great way to support your mental health. Self-care is the practice of taking care of oneself. It takes purposeful effort, but it can help with maintaining or improving your daily mental well-being.

It is important to note that self-care is not a selfish act and doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. It can be whatever you make it and is an intentional way to love yourself. There are many different forms of self-care, and it is important for you to find out what works best for you. Below are four different forms of self-care, according to the Mental Health Coalition:

  • Physical: Addresses stress that lives in your body. It alleviates physical pain or tension that either causes or results from mental stress. This can include massage, fitness, dance, aromatherapy, rest, pampering.
  • Emotional: Involves tending to your own internal emotional world – especially your mood and feelings. This can include connecting with others, psychotherapy, journaling or creative writing, art.
  • Cognitive: Engages in activities that are intellectually rewarding and/or stimulating. This can include reading, writing, listening to books or podcasts, watching films, psychotherapy.
  • Spiritual: This can take many different forms and does not have to be tied to formal religion. It means getting in touch with the less tangible aspects of yourself and the world around you. This can include meditation, breathwork, prayer, connecting with a spiritual or religious community, mantras.

To better take care of yourself, identify a few different forms of self-care that you would like to try or have tried and liked, schedule a time to engage in and enjoy these forms of self-care, and continue regularly until it becomes a part of your daily life.

Our mental wellbeing can be impacted by stress. We all have tough days and weeks. But sometimes the stress and feelings of anxiety, low mood, or other symptoms we are experiencing may be related to a mental health condition. If the symptoms you are experiencing last for several days in a row, make you miserable, or cause problems in your daily life so that you find it hard to carry out normal responsibilities, it’s time to ask for help. Consider talking to your doctor or a mental health professional. You can check with your work about resources through an Employee Assistance Program. You also can ask to see an Integrative Behavioral Health professional through your clinic at CentraCare.

When you are struggling, friends and family can be a great support system, but sometimes it is hard to ask for help. In fact, we should talk about our feelings. It is OK not to be OK. Reach out to friends, family, neighbors, a warm line or a crisis line (call or text 988) if you want to talk. Know that you are not alone, help is available, and healing can happen.