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Why Self-Care is Essential for Mental Health

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Mental Health Awareness Month is in full swing. It’s an important time to engage in activities that boost mental and emotional wellbeing. While it may be challenging to prioritize at times, developing a self-care routine is a crucial and highly effective mental wellness strategy.

What is self-care?

Self-care can be defined as providing adequate care and attention to your own physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing. Self-care encompasses all things you need in order to reduce stress, remain healthy, and feel as mentally well as possible. On a fundamental level, it is any activity that fulfills our personal needs. There is no one-sized approach to self-care and self-care strategies will not be the same for any two people. What works for one person may not resonate with another. Some may prefer a good workout, others may enjoy relaxing bubble baths, and some may feel best when they spend time outdoors. There are endless ways to practice self-care, and the best strategies for you will depend on your needs and interests.

How is self-care connected to mental health?

Practicing self-care includes the things you do to protect your mental health as well as any strategies or habits you maintain for your physical and emotional health. And because self-care involves meeting your psychological needs, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that practicing self-care has a significant effect on your mental health.

Practicing self-care boosts self-esteem, self-improvement and self-awareness. When you prioritize yourself, you develop a better relationship with the person that matters the most—you. By regularly caring for yourself and making self-care a priority, your feelings or happiness and self-worth will increase. Conversely, when you avoid things that make you feel mentally and physically well, you may deplete your self-worth.

Regular self-care greatly enhances self-awareness and when you become more self-aware, you’ll be able to step back and observe your thoughts and feelings as they unfold. You’ll recognize patterns in your emotions, and you’ll learn which events or situations can trigger negative feelings. Being self-aware allows you to make changes and be your best self.

Not to mention, when self-esteem and self-awareness improves, it has a positive effect on our overall mindset. This, in turn, enables us to care for our friends and loved ones in a way that we might not have been able to do before.

What prevents people from practicing self-care?

While self-care is essential for mental and physical health, it’s something that many people fail to practice regularly. Some people report that a lack of energy, money and/or time prevent them from practicing enough self-care.  However, there are many ways to practice self-care which don’t involve enormous amounts of energy, money or time. In fact, it’s often quick, simple self-care strategies practiced on a regular basis that bring the most joy and rejuvenation.

There’s no better time than now to establish a self-care routine. Make yourself a priority this month by discovering and prioritizing the best ways to meet your own physical, emotional and psychological needs.

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