Why Self-care is Essential for Mental Health

Control what you put in your brain

I’m tired of hearing about Covid19. But at the same time, I want and need to stay apprised of what’s happening. Things are changing very quickly, almost hourly, and it’s tempting to keep the TV on just to stay “in the know“. But here’s the thing: staying glued to news programs can overwhelm you, release stress hormones, cause insomnia, worry, and unnecessary anxiety.

I’m not saying don’t watch the news, but know when to turn it off or temporarily disengage. Events are unfolding at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to keep up. Immersing yourself in the negativity without taking breaks for helpful and healing activities will affect your thoughts and your body negatively.

I experienced this myself last Tuesday. Until then, I thought I was handling the unfolding events very well. But quite unexpectedly, I had a surge of overwhelming feelings and I found myself crying with no real “reason“ for it. I felt like I just couldn’t handle another piece of information. It felt good to cry, and, I suggest that you do some crying too. Crying is like a pressure valve. It lets out the feelings we’ve been holding inside while trying to stay strong. But we’re strong even when we cry. I think it’s a smart healing thing to do, and we feel more clearheaded, grounded, and calm when we’re finished.

We’re all experiencing traumatic events right now. We may be overwhelmed with information coming through the radio, TV, friends, family, neighbors, or social media. We may not know what to think or what to do. We may become hyper-vigilant, trying to keep up, putting our flight or fight survival mode into overdrive. This means dealing with an excess of hormones like cortisol, (which can cause, among other things, slower healing, weakness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, and headaches) and adrenaline (which among other things, increases heart rate and blood pressure). It also means that our hippocampus and amygdalae won’t be able to store short-term memories properly, and you may find yourself feeling scatterbrained.

What you can do

Take frequent breaks from the input. Taking breaks can also feel overwhelming and traumatizing at first. It’s important to know that if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, feeling stressed, or anxious, you should turn off the media and do something healing for yourself. Take a bath or a shower, clean a room, rearrange your pantry, clean out a drawer, take inventory of your supplies, journal, reach out to a friend; anything that will make you feel better and serve as a distraction from the situation. Think of all the things you can do to make you feel better and use that list over the next several weeks.

Think back to a time when you felt overwhelmed and life was uncertain, and you got through it. Remind yourself that you coped then, and you will this time, too. Focus less on the changes and uncertainty and instead focus on centering, grounding, and calming yourself. Go back to watching the news when you feel you can handle it. Watch in short doses, taking short breaks in between.

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If you’re stuck at home, use this new gift of time to do the things you’ve been putting off. Get started writing that book, read to your kids, organize your digital photos, organize a closet. You get the idea. Think of the things you’ve been wanting to do and wishing you had the time to do, then start doing them. It’s amazing what getting into the “flow“ does to make you feel accomplished.

Connect with people using social media. See if you have “Nextdoor.com” for your neighborhood and connect electronically with your neighbors. You can share information about stores and product availability, other resources, and important information.

Check-in on elderly loved ones and elderly neighbors. Help whoever you can.

Read uplifting material whether it’s a spiritual text, poetry, or old love letters. Watch comedies. Read that book you’ve been wanting to read!

Journal! Not only will writing get worries off your mind, but it could be a keepsake for your children later on; a historical record of what’s happening and your thoughts and feelings about it.

Do something physically challenging for stress relief. Jog in place, or pull out one of those old exercise videos and have at it. Make a game of it with your kids. Movement feels good and releases endorphins and other calming hormones. So does guided meditation, yoga, and stretching. Do the things that help you feel grounded, like praying or gratitude exercises.

Control what you’re eating. Sugars and carbs cause inflammation, and inflammation lowers immunity.

Six things that keep your immunity high

  1. Eat healthy foods in moderation and take a daily multivitamin.
  2. Exercise for 30 minutes daily.
  3. Get enough sleep.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Minimize or stop alcohol consumption.
  6. Quit smoking. Now is a great time!

Make time for yourself

As we become accustomed to these new events and our new temporary lifestyle, let’s put ourselves on our own to-do list. Make yourself a priority too. Remember, airlines always tell us to put on our own oxygen masks before assisting others. There’s a reason for that: you’re not going to be of any use to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Stay well, and, stay healthy my friends.

Tools:

Conscious awareness:  Be aware and make conscious choices before acting. Self-awareness releases us from making impulsive and potentially damaging decisions. Learn about setting boundaries 

Self-care: We can only choose to focus on and be responsible for ourselves, our own thoughts, actions, and behavior. The good news is that we can change ourselves with patience, persistence, and practice. We can take responsibility for getting our needs met, instead of waiting for someone to change or meet our needs for us. We are in control of ourselves and no one is responsible for us but us.

Practice mindfulness

Learn about codependency and maladaptive coping skills

Learn about C-PTSD

Recognize the Cycle of Abuse

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More resources to guide you in healing from childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect. Available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. (ebook, audiobook, hardcover, and paperback.)

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    About the author

    Facetune_06-05-2021-18-24-57 Why Self-care is Essential for Mental Health

    As a result of growing up in a dysfunctional home, and with the help of professional therapists and continued personal growth, Diane Metcalf has developed strong coping skills and healing strategies. She happily shares those insights with others who want to learn. 

    Her books and articles are the result of her education, knowledge, personal growth, and insight regarding her childhood experiences and subsequent recovery work.

    Diane holds a Master of Science degree in Information Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She has worked in numerous fields including domestic violence and abuse and is an experienced advocate, speaker, and writer about family dysfunction. Currently, she writes about recovery from narcissistic victim syndrome and symptoms of C-PTSD on The Toolbox and has authored three books in the “Lemon Moms” series. Visit her author’s website here.

    She is no longer a practicing Social Worker, Counselor, Program Manager, or Advocate.

    This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional therapy.

     

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    Why Self-care is Essential for Mental Health
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    I’m already sick of hearing about Covid19. But at the same time, I want and need to stay apprised of what’s happening. Things are changing very quickly, almost hourly, and it’s tempting to keep the TV on just to stay “in the know“. But here’s the thing: staying glued to news programs can overwhelm you, release stress hormones, cause insomnia, worry, and unnecessary anxiety.
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    DianeMetcalf.com
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