Why Self-Care is Essential for Mental Health

Self-care is a term that has gained popularity in recent years and for good reason. Taking care of oneself is essential for maintaining good mental health. Self-care involves engaging in activities and practices that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It’s very easy to get caught up in the demands of work, school, and life in general. Because of this, it’s essential to carve out time for things that add to your happiness.

However, despite the good that self-care can do for a person, there are many misconceptions  that can get in the way of following through with it. One is the hesitance to prioritise your own needs over others. The desire to please others and always show up for them despite needing time for yourself can hinder practicing self-care. It’s critical to understand that implementing self-care will improve many aspects of your life and your well-being as a whole. The guilt that many feel about self-care is incredibly unfortunate because it’s not a selfish act in any capacity.

Reduces stress and anxiety

In a study examining the effects of self-care practice on stress levels of medical students, it was scientifically proven that the more self-care a student engaged in, the higher the quality of life was experienced. Stress and anxiety are common mental health problems that can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life. Self-care practices such as exercise, meditation, and spending time in nature can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. When stress and anxiety are reduced, it becomes easier to manage daily life and cope with challenging situations.

Improves self-esteem

Self-care involves doing things that make you feel good about yourself. Whether it’s taking a relaxing night in or practicing yoga, engaging in self-care practices can aid in boosting self-esteem. When you feel good about yourself, you are more likely to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.

Enhances relationships

Many times when my head is not in the right place, I find my relationships are the first to suffer. Taking care of oneself is not only beneficial for personal well-being but can also improve relationships. When you are happy and healthy, you are more likely to have positive interactions with others. Additionally, engaging in self-care practices such as spending time with loved ones or practicing gratitude can improve relationships and increase feelings of social support. 

Boosts energy levels

Self-care practices such as exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can improve energy levels. When you have more energy, you are better equipped to handle the demands of daily life. Additionally, increased energy levels can improve mood and overall well-being.

Promotes self-awareness

Self-care practices such as journaling or therapy can promote self-awareness. When you take the time to reflect on your thoughts and emotions, you gain a better understanding of yourself. Journaling as a self-care activity actively helps to decrease stress, cope with depression, and manage anxiety. Self-awareness is essential for personal growth and can help you identify areas of your life that may need attention.

Prevents burnout

When you are constantly working or caring for others without taking time for yourself, it can lead to burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that can have serious consequences on one’s well-being. Engaging in self-care practices can prevent burnout and promote a healthy work-life balance.

Overall, self-care is essential for mental health. From my experience being abroad as a student and intern, I’ve come to realise how necessary practicing self-care is. Between my travels and classes, nothing has grounded me more than self-care and taking time to do things that improve my mindset. Engaging in activities that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being has reduced my stress and anxiety, improved my self-esteem, boosted my energy levels, promoted self-awareness, enhanced my relationships, and prevented burnout. Prioritising your own self-care is not selfish, but rather necessary for maintaining good mental health. It’s important to remember that self-care looks different for everyone and it’s essential to find what works best for you.

By: Maddy Adler