Mental Health Awareness Week: Self-Care Tips
Self-care isn’t selfish
This week at The Tab Sheffield, in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, we're focusing on ways to help you improve your mental health.
Self-care is incredibly important, especially at this time of year when exams and deadlines are looming.
But self-care is often used as a hackneyed buzz word for things like 'taking a bath' or 'having a pamper evening.'
So here are a few practical tips and tricks on how to look after yourself properly when things get too much.
Here in Sheffield we're blessed with so many beautiful parks and green spaces; not to mention the Peak District right on our doorstop.
From Weston Park a stone's throw from the main uni campus, to Endcliffe Park on Eccy Road, there's so many places to walk.
When you're feeling low being stuck inside tends to exacerbate the feeling, so heading out for a walk by yourself or with friends is a great way to lift your mood or clear your head.
Taking in your surroundings and forcing yourself to focus on something other than your immediate mental state gives you an opportunity to work through the problem and distract yourself for a while.
So give yourself a mental break and head outside for some fresh air.
Treating yourself often has connotations of luxury and often pricy purchases but when it comes to self-care, a small gift to yourself can really help improve your mood.
Self-care involves treating yourself in the same way that you would treat a friend or relative who was struggling and sometimes a small present really does the trick.
We suggest buying yourself pyjamas or a bunch of flowers.
Meditation isn't for everyone and can seem like a daunting prospect when you first start but it can be a great way to relax and relieve anxiety.
If you've never meditated before there's lots of apps and YouTube tutorials to help you get started.
We recommend Headspace, a free app with guided meditation sessions.
Make your favourite meal
It may seem small, but something as simple as taking the time to cook and enjoy your food can be a great method of de-stressing and making you feeling accomplished.
On a bad mental health day, sometimes getting out of bed can seem an impossible task and you can go days without eating anything other than convenience food which often only makes things seem worse.
So spending an hour or two creating something which will nourish and satiate you can make you feel a million times better and more productive.
Clean and tidy your space
We recommend practical self-care such as washing your bedsheets and tidying your room.
The saying 'tidy house, tidy mind' really is true, especially when you're experiencing poor mental health.
I find that when I'm going through a depressive or anxious period, living in a messy or dirty room really intensifies those feelings.
So spending half an hour cleaning and tidying your space not only makes you feel accomplished but also acts as a physical method of clearing your mind.
Take a shower or a bath
In the same vein as cleaning your space, cleaning your body also works wonders as a means of self-care.
A ten minute shower blasting out some of your favourite music or a long bath watching a Disney film makes you feel fresh and ready to take on whatever the day may throw at you.
Have a digital detox
In the past year, the phrase 'digital detox' has become increasingly common as people have started to realise the negative impact of social media on our mental health.
Scrolling through your phone for hours disconnects you from the outside world and can trigger mental health conditions.
Comparing your appearance and life with other people online is known to cause depression, eating disorders and social anxiety.
So taking a digital detox and going offline, even if it's only for a few hours, can be a hugely beneficial method of self-care.
Exercise is often prescribed by doctors as a method of alleviating feelings of depression and anxiety because endorphins (happy hormones) are released.
Whether you enjoy yoga, going to the gym or for a run, swimming, or rock climbing. There's so many options to look after your mind and your body.
Exercise can seem daunting if you've never done it before but once you get over the initial hurdle, it can be such a rewarding method of self-care.
Sometimes self-care feels impossible and isolating yourself is the only thing you want to do.
When you feel like this, it's so important to force yourself to be around other people who can lift your mood and act as a distraction.
Surrounding yourself with friends and family who can make you laugh and raise your spirits is an amazing form of self-care which takes the pressure off actively looking after yourself.
Where to go if you're struggling
If you are currently suffering with poor mental health and don't know where to turn, here are some useful links to give you somewhere and someone to turn to: