Colors Of The Mind #2
Self Care (or How to protect your mental health when you can't afford therapy)
Make Life Worth Living (MLWL) is a project by Zaluso Arts whose goal is to explore and spark conversations about issues concerning mental health, through art.
Therapy is one of the most beneficial ways to maintain good mental health because it allows people to explore their issues in a safe, private setting with a professional who has the skills to facilitate their healing.
Unfortunately, in Malawi, therapy is not an option for everybody as there are few available and the cost of being in active therapy is too overwhelming to even consider for many.
However, this does not mean all hope is lost. There are many ways to practice taking care of your mental health. Broadly, acts like this are known as self care. They are coping mechanisms that a person practices to heal from the pain of their past, process their current emotions and prepare themselves by developing coping strategies for the future.
Why Is Self Care So Important?
Self care has been reduced to something of a buzzword nowadays but it’s more than just a trendy term. Self care is about maintaining and improving the most important relationship you will ever have – the one with yourself.
A very important aspect of self care is proactiveness as opposed to reactiveness. In other words, practicing self care is about adopting positive habits and patterns of thought or behaviour so as to minimize the stresses we encounter in our day to day lives.
There are four reasons in particular that I believe self care is so essential:
- It helps us manage stress by giving us valuable skills to deal with difficult situations or emotions.
- It helps us discover deeper parts of our psyche and identity, thereby improving our understanding of the self.
- It helps us to improve our self esteem especially as we learn better ways to balance our moods and emotions, and as we develop positive coping mechanisms for stress.
- It better equips to assist others, especially by providing an accessible example of good mental health. Most importantly, self care gives us a greater ability to assist others in dealing with their own stress.
6 Types of Self Care
This type of self care is all about meeting your body’s needs and creating habits that ensure good physical health which in turn contributes to one’s emotional well being. It includes things like engaging in exercises you enjoy, getting 8 hours of sleep and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
Emotional self care is all about connecting or
, in some cases, reconnecting with our feelings. It’s about being able to process those feelings and reflect on them positively. Activities in this category include creating art, reading books and listening to music. We can think of emotional self care as the things we do to ensure we are dealing with difficult emotions in positive and non-judgmental ways.
This type of self care is all about connecting with something greater than ourselves. For the religious, this can include things like going to a place of worship, studying sacred texts or indeed praying. For both non-religious and religious people, activities of spiritual self care can also include yoga, meditation and being amongst nature. No matter what set of beliefs (or lack thereof) one holds, spiritual self care is about getting in touch with the soul. More activities in this realm include donating to worthwhile causes, volunteering and other acts of charity work.
4. Mental or Intellectual
Mental self care is largely psychological and involves being introspective which means taking a deeper look into our experiences, tendencies and patterns of behavior or thought. It is perhaps the most challenging component to a rounded self-care routine because it requires one to look inward to explore the roots of the issues that affect them in a kind and non-judgmental manner.
Practical self care involves activities we take on to maintain and improve the quality and/or standard of our lives. It also encompasses actions that prevent difficult or stressful situations. In other words, it’s all about keeping core aspects of life, such as safety, security and finances, in order. Examples include creating and following a budget, pursuing professional development, a clean and organized home, and balancing one’s professional and personal life.
This type of self care involves fostering good relationships with our friends, family and significant others. It is about maintaining and improving positive connections with our loved ones. Activities of relational self care include chatting with our friends, visiting family and spending quality time with our loved ones. It is all about showing love, compassion and appreciation the people we care most deeply about.
As we can see, self care is a deeply involving practice intended to improve and maintain all aspects of our self – the body, mind and soul. Therefore, it requires us to be patient and kind to ourselves.
Although I recommend anyone who can afford to do so to attend therapy, the information from this article will help you get started on finding ways to take care of your mental health.
Author: Angasa Salome, a writer and freelancer. She also shares her thoughts and musings on her blog, Pastiche Mode.