Self-Care Series Part 2: Psychological Self-Care and Attending to Our Minds
As we discussed in our previous blog, self-care encompasses anything we do to take care of ourselves – physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. It is an important part of maintaining our health and well-being, and it’s something that should be practiced regularly. There are many different forms of self-care, and each one is important in its own way. In today’s blog, we will explore different aspects of psychological self-care and how we can work on better attending to our minds as a way to improve our mental health.
Self-reflection is a form of self-care, because it helps us to understand ourselves better by bringing our attention to our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, emotions, judgments and perspectives. By getting to know ourselves better, we are better able to understand why and how we behave the way we do- through the habits we form to the tasks we complete or avoid. Often when we experience an internal dilemma or conflict, we need space and time to self-reflect and consider options for problem-solving.
It is also important for us to be aware of our emotions so that we can identify our psychological needs. Once we know what we need, such as compassion, acceptance, respect, etc. then we are better able to communicate what we need with others or engage in coping skills to help manage our emotions.
One way to effectively promote self-reflection might include journaling or writing out thoughts or happenings from your day, week or month or writing about how you are feeling. Activities might also include making art, creating music or working on an intentional project in which you are focused on understanding and expressing your emotions and needs.
A significant way to support your psychological health and self-care is by attending regular psychotherapy appointments. More recently, going to therapy has been more openly talked about and there is a strong movement to destigmatize mental health treatment.
It is a personal decision to choose to begin therapy sessions and often this can be felt more urgently if one experiences recurring stressors, internal dilemmas, difficult life experiences or other factors that make it difficult to cope alone. It is important to recognize that there are different types of psychotherapy and counseling services to help support each individual based on their needs.
Psychotherapy can benefit someone struggling to manage intrusive thoughts, addiction or childhood trauma. There are different approaches to best fit these needs. Psychotherapy is also an important and valuable space to experience being heard, listened to and validated, which can have significant positive impacts on our mental health.
Engaging in a Hobby, Activity or Skill that is Unrelated to Work
There is a difference between doing something because we have to or are told to do it and doing something because it intrigues us, we are curious or passionate about it or it brings us joy. Engaging in an activity that we truly enjoy is a form of psychological self-care because we are naturally promoting the expression of positive emotions and therefore promoting positive mood states in the short term and long term. When we do what we love and find value in, we are more easily able to remain in the moment, engaged and focused and in turn we are engaging in forms of mindfulness that lead to a greater sense of calm and peace.
Do Something You Are Not an Expert In
Challenge yourself to be curious and engage your intelligence in a new area by discovering a new way of doing something or attempting a skill which you have no background in. Perhaps you have always been curious about creating a vase on a pottery wheel or dabbling in gardening. Allow yourself to sign up for a class, watch a YouTube video, or read a new book in something that you want to learn more about.
It is important to continue learning and engaging new pieces of knowledge for brain stimulation. When we learn something new, it helps us feel accomplished and proud to know that we started at a point of knowing very little about a certain process or idea and over time and practice, were able to gain a better understanding and perhaps enjoyment from this process.
Learn to Say “No” to Extra Responsibilities and Learn to Say “Yes” to Positive Supports
We can support our psychological health by setting healthy boundaries with ourselves and others. It is important to practice the art of assertive communication in instances where we are being asked to take on additional responsibilities and requests that we believe we are unable to complete or incapable of completing. We have the ability to say “no” in moments where there could be a negative impact on our mood, sense of self, and energy.
Often we can become burnt out and fatigued when we engage in activities and tasks that drain us or we perpetually dread. On the other hand, it is also important for us to practice the art of saying “yes” to offers of support from others with whom we are close to. When we experience the consideration and support of others, it can feel good internally (once we push past the guilt) and can also promote a sense of connection and belonging.
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