Self-Care is Mental Health Care

May is Mental Health Awareness month, but taking care of your mental health is really a year-round thing. If you are dealing with mental health issues, or think you might be, it’s very important to seek the help of mental health professionals. However, you can also play a very direct role in your mental health care through self care. Self care is sometimes defined as “Anything we deliberately do (or refrain from doing) with our own wellbeing in mind.”

To make self-care a bit easier when you need it most, it may be very useful to put together your own self-care kit. Given that everyone is different, your particular self-care kit may be entirely different from everyone else’s. It’s important that you put a kit together that is right for you, as you are more likely to make use of it when you need to. Here are some general ideas that can get you started:

Medication: If you take any medications that you might need in a crisis, ensure you have some on hand. You may also want things like pain relievers or antacids if you tend to have physical symptoms

Stress Relief: Adding things like a stress ball, sensory aids, or fidget toys may be helpful. You may want to consider noise-canceling headphones or earplugs, and perhaps even some tissues. For a quick nervous system reset, you may want to include sour candies or ginger chews, as they can help regulate your nervous system.

Another important part of stress relief is attaining an appropriate level of comfort. You may want to include your favorite comfort beverage – such as tea or hot cocoa – and perhaps a cozy blanket. Aroma therapy, in the form of a scented candle or essential oil diffuser, can work wonders for helping you feel comfortable.

Things to Do: Sometimes the best thing to do is find an appropriate outlet for the ongoing situation; this could be journaling, coloring, making art, crocheting, knitting, painting, putting together a puzzle, doing sudoku, or even rereading a favorite book. You may also find that an important part of your regular self care, even outside of a crisis, is recentering your mind. To help with this, you may want to include things like affirmation cards, or meditation accessories to facilitate a meditation practice.

Music: Listening to the right music can entirely change your mental and emotional space. Having a playlist or two of music that you find soothing or uplifting ready and accessible can be a great self-care tool.

Putting together your own personalized self-care kit allows you to tailor it exactly to your particular needs and tastes, but some people may find the process a bit overwhelming at first. If that’s the case, there are a variety of pre-made self-care kits available that can act as a starting point for your own kit.

Center for Emotional Health provides behavioral health services to patients ages 4 and up at our more than 40 offices in North Carolina and Florida.

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