What is Self Care?

 In Mental Health

At Hero Town, we are passionate about the importance of self care in maintaining mental health. But what do we mean when we talk about self care, and how do we practice it? For this Mental Health Week, we’re providing more information on this important practice.

Why is self care important?

Many of us have busy schedules, stressful situations and inconveniences that we deal with on a daily basis. Especially for people who work in the health care, social work or education sector, or anyone who works closely with people who may be experiencing a mental health concern, it can be emotionally trying. While this work is vital and majorly beneficial, it is also important to set time aside for ourselves as well.

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete – Jack Kornfield

If we work ourselves too hard without practising regular and healthy amounts of self care, we can experience emotional burnout. This not only significantly decreases the effectiveness of our work, but it is also detrimental to our mental health. By starting with the self, we can more acutely understand our own mental health and are in a better state of mind to help others.

What activities count as self care?

Your act of self care should be something that is designed for you personally. The activity should be something unrelated to work, and it should be something you enjoy or find relaxing. This could be as simple as a hot cup of tea and a good book, going for a walk along the beach, or taking a power nap. What we most want to emphasise though, is that it should be tailored to your needs. Sane Australia has provided their top 13 tips for practising self care, and they encourage that people “know that it’s okay to be gentle with yourself and take things more slowly”. You can read through Sane Australia’s list for ideas on self care activities. Reach Out Australia has also compiled a strategy guide for practising regular, healthy self care.

Make self care a regular part of your schedule

This might sound a little strict, but consider using a calendar or a planner to allocate some time to a self care activity. For those of us with very busy schedules, it can be difficult to find time in the day to wind down. By setting aside that time in advance, this can help to acknowledge and participate in a self care activity. It could be anywhere from 10 minutes a day to an hour, but having time allocated to self care is beneficial to our mental health in the long run.

One of the strategies that we suggested for achieving mindfulness can be used to practise self care as well. Get a friend, coworker or family member to hold you accountable for completing your self care activity for the day, and in return you do the same for them. Reach Out Australia provides a comprehensive document for planning out self care activities. They give suggestions for different areas of self care such as physical, psychological and relationship self care. To understand which area of self care would work best for you, it is recommended that you first take the self care assessment. We may be heroes in training, but remember to take care of yourselves as well!

Steph Downing
Stephanie Downing is the administrative assistant for Hero Town Geelong. Born and raised in Geelong, Australia, Stephanie is a graduate of Deakin University with her Honours degree in Professional and Creative Writing. She adores words of all sorts and is especially infatuated with the medium of poetry and fiction, with publications of her work being featured in magazines such as WORDLY Magazine, Plumwood Mountain Journal and Cordite Poetry Review.
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