Self care has often gotten the reputation of being spa days and bath soaks, and generally having to do with doing something nice or relaxing for our bodies. While we know that these do constitute self care, we also know that self care isn’t just about special occasions or indulging ourselves with a “feel good” treat or reward. In fact we practice self care everyday, our daily routines of ensuring we are clean and nourished and rested and organised are us taking care of ourselves. We make decisions that are “good” for us throughout each day, without paying much attention; all rooted in our desire to ensure our well being.
As an advocate of being well mentally, I almost always look at things through these lens and try to see where and how mental wellbeing fits in. I realise that when we talk about self care, although it is implied, we hardly get into the care we need to take, of our mental health. Being a mom, wife and busy entrepreneur I get pulled in so many directions all day long and I honestly need a reminder here and there, to check in with and make time for my mental wellbeing. Incase this is also you and you could do with a reminder or two or three, I’ve got you!
My 3 Daily Mental Care Checks
This is as simple as asking yourself “How am I feeling today?”. It is a simple but powerful way to check in with yourself and identify what your mental state is, what’s on your mind and what emotions are at play. Being able to name that feeling (literally put a name on it e.g. sad, angry, chill..etc) increases your self awareness yes, and also decreases how that mood affects you throughout your day. Since you have recognised it, it becomes one less thing you have to figure out today – I know how I feel, I am ok with it and it can guide then how I care for myself today.
When you identify how you are feeling today, a body check is to ask yourself “Where in my body am I holding this feeling?”. Does that seem like an odd question. The first time I was made aware of this I found it odd too as we have often associated our feelings with being a brain/mental thing or something intangible, with no connection to our physical body. Oh how I was wrong about that. We definitely carry our thoughts and feelings in our body and our mental health has a direct impact on our physical health and wellbeing. So making that connection between your feeling for today and where you see it showing up in your body is an often overlooked but essential practice of caring for yourself. So go ahead and check, sit for a moment and see. Common places we carry our feelings are – our jaw (clenching), shoulders & neck (tension), gut (butterflies etc.), back (pain), chest (tightening)… you get the idea. I have found once I take the time to ask myself this, my body almost always instantly lets me know.
So we have checked in with how we feel and where in our body we are carrying that feeling, so then how do we release these feelings. What does our outflow look like today? This is asking us to check in with how these feelings are expressed throughout our day, as if left unchecked, they can be expressed in ways that we may not intend or that are not sufficient for our resolve of these feelings. That can look like being extra short with our kids today, seeking comfort in food throughout the day, that tone in the office mail you sent or unexpected outburst. Conversely it can also look like that silence and collection of “unsaids” throughout the day and also being mentally occupied and distracted, especially at times in the day when you need to be alert and engaged. Finding avenues for our outflow, for letting go of the feelings that we feel today, creating avenues for these feelings to be expressed is an incredible form of self care. You are allowing that jaw to unclench and shoulders to relax and creating space in your mind and body for the things you want to enjoy today. Avenues for outflow can look like:
- Movement – walking, running, workout, yoga or just shaking loose on the spot.
- Writing – journalling (it gets a bad rap I know) the act of writing or typing out your feelings can be very cathartic.
- Art – all and any creative expressions! (all mediums)
- Talking – confiding in a trusted friend/family or a mental health practitioner
- Play – laugh, play games, be silly.
This list is not exhaustive ofcourse and is meant to just give you some ideas for your outflow.
Thank you for letting me share my 3 daily mental care checks with you, I hope that this is helpful to you today and that you give these a try (if you aren’t already doing so). Remember to be gentle with yourself and that your self care practices are personal to YOU and not comparable to anyone else’s (including mine).