Did you know there are many different types of self-care? I believe there are five primary types of self-care, and all of them are equally important. It can be easy to practice some and neglect others. If your only types of self-care are going to the gym, taking bubble baths, or getting massages, you are likely missing some key components to maintaining overall wellbeing.
There's no doubt that travel impacts our mental health. Travel can have many mental health benefits, but it can also be a source of stress. Recently, I traveled abroad and experienced the mental health advantages and challenges brought about by travel. In retrospect, there are a few things I wish I would have known before my trip. Next time I travel, I will keep in mind how travel impacts mental health so I can be better prepared.
Can we rewire our brains to think more positively and reduce self-criticism? There is fascinating research out there that says yes. You may have heard of neuroplasticity, which is the brain's amazing ability to create new neural connections that change the way it functions. For those who struggle with anxiety, depression, or low self-worth, we can harness the power of neuroplasticity to rewire our brain.
Most people have hobbies they conditionally participate in, but striving toward full participation in a new hobby can provide a different sense of fulfillment. For many of us, our hobbies have just ‘ended up’ in our lives. We experience them as routine, no longer providing joy. This is potentially because we no longer fully participate.
It is difficult to avoid burnout because it's difficult to know if our stress levels are typical or problematic. The emphasis on success and achievement in our culture encourages us to push to our breaking points in the name of productivity. If you value your mental health as much as I do, you might struggle with the conflict between meeting expectations at work and maintaining a healthy personal life. I've found there are ways I can avoid burnout with good self-care practices.
Tough times are a natural part of life, but you can increase your resilience to make getting through them easier. Although biology plays a role in our susceptibility to mental health symptoms, we are not wholly at the mercy of our genetics. Several personality attributes contribute to a person's ability to withstand adversity. What's more, we can increase our resilience by engaging in an intentional practice of optimism.
A daily affirmation regarding love and bliss can change the way you experience the world. Many of us who live with mental illness feel unlovable occasionally, if not constantly. That feeling can be caused by our own negative thought cycles or by actual events. Sometimes, a partner ends a relationship due to mental illness, which can be heartbreaking. Other times, a partner who doesn’t understand our different needs may stay with us but become abusive or perhaps simply unsupportive. This lack of love and bliss takes a further toll on our mental health.
Perfectionism and being perfect often hold you back from living in bliss. You've heard the phrase "nobody's perfect," and you've probably said it yourself many times. It's a term people use without much thought. I've been thinking about perfectionism a lot recently, both because I've had substantial growth in this area, but also because I have more work to do. Perfectionism, trying to be perfect, can be a real happiness killer if it goes unchecked.
Being in awe as a thought practice can completely transform the way you experience the world. If you wake up and choose to live in awe, you’ll likely notice previously-missed details in your environment and the people around you ("The Relationship Between Anxiety and Awe"). Being in awe is so natural to children; if you spend time around kids, you’ll notice they’re fascinated by small details. Bubbles, colors, animals, nature, and how things work all fascinate children. However, as we grow older, we lose some of this awe and wonder, and the feeling of being in awe disappears.
Winter is a great time to experience the joy of hygge. If you've never heard of the Scandinavian practice of hygge (pronounced HOO-guh), think crackling fire, fuzzy socks, mugs of hot cocoa, flannel pajamas, and warm blankets. There is no direct translation in English, but it derives from the Norwegian word for "wellbeing." Hygge is generally considered a Danish practice that encourages wellness by creating cozy, comforting experiences. As the daughter of a Norwegian immigrant, my mom often incorporated this concept into our home environment and I have a deep appreciation for it. Whenever I'm feeling anxious or sad, I know I can soothe myself by practicing the joy of hygge.