I wrote a post in the early days of this blog suggesting ways in which we can integrate self-care practices into our daily lives. The more I have thought about that post, the more I realise I wrong I was. Don’t get me wrong, all the tips are very helpful for helping you to recharge, but they aren’t self-care.
The difference between self-care and rest
We often get confused between self-care and rest. We extol the benefits of having a warm bath, a good night’s sleep, half an hour of meditation as self-care and ways to deal with stress. While all of these are great for reducing stress, they are restful activities, aimed to help you recharge. They are not self-care.
What is true self-care?
It is learning your limits when you are struggling. It is finding a support network to take the load off when you need time to re-centre. It is finding something that nourishes your soul and gives you a little bit of happiness even in times of despair.
It is using strategies to build resilience, coping mechanisms that make wading through the mire a little less difficult. It is building a bubble of protection while you re-learn happiness.
In times of good mental health, it is maintaining those activities that help you to flourish. It is looking after your body and your mind so that they can work together to keep your mood lifted and protect you from mental ill health.
Rest is great but it’s not enough
As a mother who has struggled with her mental health, I initially thought of self-care as baths, relaxation and time for myself. Now I know it is so much more. I’m learning to distinguish between rest and relaxation, and true self-care.
Do you practice true self-care? Let me know how you maintain good mental health in the comments.