Perhaps you might feel self-care ideas are often about taking a shower, going for a walk, etc. The thing is, self-care for your mental health is just as – if not the most – important thing you need to do for yourself.
Today, I’m going to share with you a few actionable suggestions that worked for me when my mind needs some self-care.
12 Self-Care Ideas for Your Mind
1. Journal the shit out of the mind.
I suggest this to anyone who lets me know they’re feeling quite ‘stuck’ in life, in any sense. In fact, it’s one of the very first things I do whenever I go through a blockage in my own life. I journal – via scribbling.
The idea of journaling, in this case, is not to document something, but simply to use scribbling to find out why you’re feeling unhappy in general. It starts with writing and acknowledging the messes. This practice does wonders in helping to clear your head. The words will gradually flow out from a deeper understanding of the underlying currents. Once you’re aware of the actual reasons why you’re feeling a certain way, you can do something to overcome them.
How to practise journalling:
Take a piece of paper/notebook and simply start writing, quickly, anything that comes to mind. Don’t think too deep nor even plan what to write. Just let the words flow. The words don’t have to be legible (especially if you worry about someone else reading) – even I can’t read my own words when I practise this, haha. You might be surprised at what connections and enlightenment you can make out of this practice. Once you’re done, you may tear that piece of paper up.
It’s a good idea to do this early in the morning, or before you head to bed.
2. Try your best for today, and be done with it.
Don’t finish today what you can do tomorrow.
Yep, I know it’s the complete opposite of what people say: “Don’t do tomorrow what you can finish today.”
Things will never be finished, therefore what’s done is completed. I learned this wisdom from my mindfulness mentor. Being a workaholic and a creativity addict, this is very challenging for me to achieve too, so take things with an open mind and give yourself a break when needed. Sometimes, just surviving the day is good enough.
3. Remember that, superficial measurements are not a reflection of your self-worth.
To be completely honest with you, I don’t have a lot of friends. Socializing is not my cup of tea nor forte + I have an intense fear of parties and crowds. My Mum prides herself on knowing many people and she can never understand why I don’t feel the need to acquaint everyone in the world or go out often. Simple: I don’t tag my self-worth to the number of people I know.
However, I have a few close friends who stuck around through my best and worst, through my days of acne, horrible haircuts, prior-braces. They stayed, even when I was too exhausted / broke / stressed out / anxious / self-centred / selfish / wilful / unreasonable / unwise for anyone. Now, I carry this assurance with me, with gratitude. It’s easy to feel low in spirit when Instagram followers or social media Likes keep dropping, or when what you do or create did not get appreciated. But know this:
You have to really know the correct places to look for real, sincere acknowledgment. Social media measurement is not one of them places.
4. Forgive yourself, often.
It’s not the easiest to ever discover this, but, we can actually carry so much shame deep inside of us, without even knowing. Shame for not doing enough, shame for mistreating someone, shame for not reaching goals, not having goals, not standing up for yourself more, shame due to our partner falling in love with someone, shame for not being the person the world thought you are. The list never ends.
Whether it’s truly our fault or not, the more important thing is to forgive yourself for past mistakes, learn the lessons, and move on.
5. List down just 10 things you feel grateful for.
A simple way to practise gratitude starts from being able to feel gratitude. Write down 10 things you’re grateful for, or a few people you feel so glad to have met, etc. Do this daily for a bit and watch how it changes to your perspectives in life.
6. Experiment with a social media detox.
For all its benefits in letting us stay connected with people, you have to admit that simply being on social media will drain you of energy. Yet quitting social media is even harder. Well, you can stay off social media, for a weekend, or any day of the week that you need to disconnect for a bit. I go as far as disabling mobile data on certain platforms when I’m out for the whole day, or even deleting the social media apps to overcome my addiction. Kinda lame haha but yes I really do that.
At the end of the experiment, all that matters is, my mental energy gets conserved. The mind feels less flustered and stressed out. You get to be more present for the day.
While you’re at it, also notice with mindfulness the ‘influencers’ you’re following on Instagram.
There are some accounts that enthusiastically encourage you to hate your exes or those that don’t agree with you. There are other accounts that are always about skin and body – almost porn accounts seriously. If you’re not
careful mindful or if your self-esteem is not at a healthy level, the accounts will indirectly make you feel conscious and even lousy about yourself.
But are there accounts that are wise and always spreading positive energy? I’m not talking about those act-positive accounts with empty, fake-positive quotes lifted from somewhere on the internet. But, actual accounts owned by real humans who are sincerely committed to spreading realistically positive energy for a fellow human being.
@b.oakman: Brittin is a wellness advocate, poet, a lovely lady who’s very committed to mental health
@Tiny Buddha shares plenty of profoundness in its posts.
@BuddhaDoodles has the cutest illustrations sharing wisdom of Buddhism.
@aubreyyrenee is a yogi and her captions are always warm to the heart.
@freedivegirl has inspired me to dance again, have fun and her words are always light-heartedly beautiful.
@meghancurrieyoga is a yoga teacher, artist, and her words are like honey – deep and sweet.
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7. Go for a vacation.. or a retreat!
I’ve made excuses to go for an extended solo trip or even a yoga retreat overseas as long as I can afford it with my time and budget. But a vacation is not a numbing method for you to escape your problems forever – you’ll still need to face them. Going away might help give you some clarity though. The benefit of being away is, it breaks off the physical connections that attach you to the issues (or people) you’re having problems with.
With space, you get clarity.
8. Give yoga a chance.
You might think yoga is just a workout. Nope, it’s far more than that. A yoga session allows you to disconnect from the outside world and simply be present in a world that lets you be you for a bit, so you can make connections to your mind and soul via moving the body. Mind-body-soul – isn’t this a familiar term?
9. Listen to soothing music.
It’s easy to switch to blasting music loud when you need to blast some frustration out of you. If that works for you, fine, and do sing out loud too if circumstances allow. If it doesn’t, give soothing music playlists a chance. Music can calm your mind and soul.
Consider piano music tunes on Spotify, or music that’s inspired by the sounds of nature.
10. Disengage from small stuff & small people.
Rise above the triviality of most things. Rise above the pettiness of people.
If there’s someone driving you nuts with what he says to you or about you, it’s a good chance for you to train your tolerance and resilience. It’s true that some people will only spew garbage out of their mouths – forgive them. Instead, have compassion for them, because they’re actually suffering deep inside of them. It’s also a good time for you learn something out of the situation. Compared to only being affected negatively, at least you gain something out of this.
Let that shit go.
11. Declutter your physical space.
Clean your surrounding spaces. Donate away or recycle the things that no longer bring you joy. Watch your mood change as you go through the motions of clearing away negative energy.
12. Try a few minutes of guided meditation.
My mindfulness mentor likes to say – and he doesn’t mean it as a joke – If you’re busy, meditate for 10 minutes. If you’re super busy, meditate for one hour.
Did you know there’s something called guided meditation? Definitely doesn’t sound as daunting now, right? You don’t have to just go to a corner and face silence for an hour! Try out Headspace or Calm apps with their free guided meditation clips – simply a few minutes each session.
If at first, you only feel anxiety afterwards and even worse than before meditating, don’t give up yet. Your mind is simply moving through dark clouds before they clear up to reveal the blue sky!
I hope these self-care tips will benefit your mind in one way or another! Take care of yourself, namaste.
More about Mindfulness on this blog!