Self care is personal health maintenance. It is any activity of an individual, family or community, with the intention of improving or restoring health, or treating or preventing disease.
Self care includes all health decisions people (as individuals or consumers) make for themselves and their families to get and stay physically and mentally fit.
A big word or notion in the mental health community is "self care". Essentially self care, is being a very good friend to yourself. It is making sure that you are looking out for yourself, so that you stay physically and mentally healthy and happy while going through your daily life. I think that it is one of the hardest things for some people to do, to put yourself first, above others, in the line up for care and love, it certainly is for me.
I see self care as a combination of many things for me, to make sure that the delicate balance is achieved so that I stay physically and mentally healthy is achieved. It includes, but is not limited to:
- Physical Activity - I learnt while I was away in South America that physical activity/exercise is an important part of my self care program. I need to get exercise on a regular basis so that I can feel healthy or at least like I am doing everything in my power to try and be healthy.
- Medication - I have written before on this blog about not wanting to take my meds. I need to take them everyday to ensure that I am both physically healthy and that my neurons in my mind fire in the right direction and the chemicals are somewhat balanced. I am not mentally ill, because I choose to think that way. There is actually something wrong in my head, and the drugs help both my mental illness and my chronic migraines, among other things.
- Food and eating - I am trying to eat better and nourish my body so that I can be healthier, loss weight and also have the energy to work for the whole day, manage the stress of both work and mental health and be prepared physically to fight any illnesses that come my way.
- Sleep - Probably one of the biggest parts of self care for me right now is sleep. I need it. I used to think that I could sleep for 4 hours and be ok. I know now that the realistic time frame is 10-12 hours a night and I need to take medication for that to happen. If I do not get that, I am not mentally well and physically my body hates me.
- Therapy/Group Sessions/CBT - Managing stress, mental health, bipolar disorder and all sorts of other things can be aided by going to therapy, whether it be in a group or one on one. I also find that learning tools like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is helping me to take tools and tricks that I learn in therapy and integrate them into my everyday life.
Making all of these bits and pieces fit and work together feels like a full time job most days, but I know that this is important to keep me healthy. I find it hard to put myself first. It is much easier to think or write about. I would much rather look after others, work hard, forget that i have to take drugs, not get much sleep and pretend that i don't need to care for myself, but then I would be very sick and not able to be a member of society. So for the time being I will focus on being a friend to myself and focusing on self care.