Self Care is Healthcare

It’s always some kind of awareness month or day, and May is marked for Mental Health.  I’ve given myself the title of Peer Advocate in the Mental Health community because I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in my life; and though I’m far from perfect, I consider myself a positive role model for myself, and I share my journey so others who struggle with their mental health will know they’re not alone.

A key tool for success in the life of anyone is good self care.  It’s essential no matter what your mental health status.  For generally mentally healthy people, this mostly looks fluffy and fun because they bounce back pretty quickly from life’s stresses.  When your mental health is sketchy at best and catastrophic at worst, self care becomes a bit more boring and a lot more like the difference between life and death – depending on how severe your current mental state.  I mostly talk about the fluffy kind of self care, but today I’d like to talk about the more boring and mundane aspects of self care that are just as essential as the “fun” ones.

Boring Self Care includes:

  • TAKE YOUR MEDS. Be diligent.  Use calendars.  Set alarms. Make sure you arrange for refills in advance so you can avoid the compounding stress of the last minute refill on a scrip that needs Dr. re-authorization and they’re out of town for a week so now you’ve got to hope they can reach the covering doc.
  • Good hygiene.  Anhedonia is what it’s called when you have depression and you can’t feel pleasure from normal daily activities, like taking care of your body.  This is something I have struggled with, and why I find particular pleasure in indulging in luxurious shower products.  I feel like I have spent so much money on something so basic, you bet I’m gonna use it!
  • Make and keep appointments.  This can be visits with your therapist, visits to the dentist, the eye doctor, whatever your body is in need of care for.  When you live with depression and anxiety, it can feel really scary to force yourself out of the house, all the way to the doctor’s office, the long wait in the waiting room, and the stress of a visit; even though these are all things to help you.  But making and keeping appointments is HUGE and should be celebrated with fluffy self care!
  • Distress tolerance. Distress tolerance is the mental version of an inoculation to stress.  My completely non-professional definition of distress tolerance is: By participating in an activity that causes you stress in small amounts and in a controlled environment, you learn to sit with the feeling and your ability to tolerate the stress can be greatly reduced, and even eliminated over time.
  • You are what you eat.  God, what a privileged thing to say, right?  But it’s true.  No judgement and no guilt though!  You do the best you can, and that’s all anyone can do.  NOBODY IS PERFECT!

These are just a few examples of the boring self care that I practice.  I’m going to make an effort to post about it more on my social media accounts, because self care is important in ALL its forms, not just the fun ones!  What are some of the ways you practice boring self care?