Self-love is one way to embrace healing, improve mental health, and help goals actualize. Practicing self-love is no different than practicing anything you want to improve, meaning that it takes a plan and commitment.
It is possible to find a self-care practice that works for your schedule. Here are three tips that can help you define your self-love activities and start experiencing mental health benefits from intentional activities.
You can also share your self-love ideas with a friend and ask for them to be your “accountability buddy,” as one way to prioritize your mental health journey.
1. Brainstorm your happiest or most fulfilled moments. What did they involve?
Before you add a self-care activity to each day, you may benefit from doing a quick reflection first. Historically, what activities or memories spark joy for you? Take fifteen minutes to write down three of your happiest moments.
Be sure to include the following details:
- What was the activity or moment you felt fulfilled?
- Were you alone or with others?
- What space or materials did you need for this activity?
The more specific you are, the better. For example, if you remember feeling happiest while dancing, do you remember dancing by yourself in the privacy of a room? Or were you out dancing with friends? If you enjoy doodling, what markers make drawing more enjoyable? If you have the budget to do so, buy the “fancy markers” or whatever will enhance your preferred activity.
Some of your favorite activities may have changed as you have grown older. This is natural. Middle-aged people and parents can also experience mental health changes and may benefit from talking to a specialist who can help them prioritize self-love.
If more than three memories or activities come to mind for you, that is great. For the next step, consider focusing on three feasible activities that you can incorporate into your schedule as soon as possible. For example, if “a long hike in nature with a friend” is one of your favorite joy-filled activities, how often can you add this to your schedule? Once a week? Once a month? This will help you with the next step.
2. Add one self-care activity that is “low-stakes” to your weekly routine.
Low-stakes self-care practices are activities that feel relatively easy to accomplish. They may feel safer because they are in a space where judgment is withheld or perhaps, where you are the main participant.
A low-stakes self-care activity could be something like “listening to my favorite album while drawing,” since this can be done in the safety and privacy of your home. High-stakes practices are beneficial too, but they do involve more risk. For example, joining a weekly community softball team is more high-stakes, since it involves more social interaction and physical exertion. Decide which day you will prioritize this weekly activity and put a reminder somewhere you can see or hear it. Learn more about how to actualize mental health goals to get the most benefit from your growing self-care practice.
Remember that exercise is a big part of self-care, since movement can bring joy, boost “happy hormones,” and strengthen bones and muscles. Movement looks different for different bodies. Do any of your top three self-care practices incorporate exercise? Keep in mind that it is better to choose an exercise style you enjoy rather than one you feel pressured to do because it is “good for you.” For example, if you are more likely to stick to a YouTube dancing routine twice a week, rather than lift weights at the gym, then stick to the dancing. You will have more fun along the way too.
3. Don’t expect self-care to be a quick fix. Get support.
Support can include a variety of options. As noted above, consider finding an “accountability buddy” who you can celebrate your “little wins” with. Is there a coworker, a friend, or a partner who you can chat with each week, and share about how your self-care journey is going?
If you are a parent, consider how by modeling self-care, your children may be inspired to do the same. If you have children, ask them to think about what three activities they would like to add to their weekly schedule, reminding them to keep realistic too.
Teenagers also struggle with mental health and can benefit from an established self-care routine.
Therapy provides a time for you to “focus on you” and helps people keep up with life’s demands. For people with depression and anxiety, professional support may be an integral part of the greater self-care journey. PCC offers a complete mental health team of psychiatrists and therapists in Redding. We also provide a range of supportive programs to help people experiencing mental illness.