Self Care: 9 Ways to be Kind to your Mind
In light of mental health awareness week I thought I'd share some of the things I try to implement into my days that give me a boost when I need it most. Although I have not suffered with mental health, I am human and I have days where I can feel low. I have found small acts of self care often make me feel a little brighter and definitely keep my mental health in check. Self care & kindness comes in so many different shapes and forms but here's what self care looks like to me.
Meditation is scientifically proven to improve key aspects of preparation, performance and recovery. Meditation is something I have only very recently introduced, after being gifted a free 3 month subscription to Headspace app. I've got into a good routine of taking 10-15 minutes to just breath and quiet my thoughts each day. As a beginner, I've particularly enjoyed the guided meditations. Headspace also offers short courses on area's that can help promote brain health and includes a whole section on sport which can help with training, motivation and setbacks in sport. Aside from sport, this trial alining with the uncertain times of COVID-19 has been a really helpful tool for reducing any anxiety.
Being kind to others and ourselves is an act of self care. A little bit of self love and kindness to ourselves and others (even people we don't know) can feel really good. Here are just some way's I do this.
1. Focus on small wins and giving yourself some credit.
2. Show kindness to others. This could be as simple as smiling at someone & asking how they are.
3. Be mindful of how your communicating to others, that person may be having a hard time.
4. Listen to others when they are speaking. Sometimes the best thing you can offer is a ear to listen.
5. Give yourself a friendly reminder that you are enough.
Sometimes self care is just switching off, taking some time for yourself and not feeling guilty for it. Here are some of the ways I like to recharge.
1. NAP - Sleep always helps me be more rational and feel more balanced.
2. BATH - My go-to for relaxing, I love to add Epsom salts to relieve any sore muscles, Eco bath London are my current fave.
3. HOME FACIAL - I love doing a face mask, moisturising & massaging my skin. Loving Kate's Melrose Place Minis Kit by Kate Somerville at the moment.
4. GET CREATIVE - This could be drawing, painting nails, up-cycling or getting creative with makeup.
5. READ - I am not a massive reader but find it great way to wind down and have some time away from screens and audiobooks are a great option too if you struggle to read like I do. I've recently been enjoying An American Marriage by Tayari Jones & Michelle Obama's Becoming on Audible.
6. HOT DRINK - A cup of herbal tea is my go-to in the evening for winding down. I love Clipper Organic Nettle and peppermint Tea.
7. SWITCH OFF - Literally, turn off and put away any devises that my distract you from chilling out. I try wait till I've had breakfast before checking my phone in the am and turn everything off at 9pm.
RECHARGE & INDULGE
Indulging every now and again is a healthy way to stay feeling balanced. Whether that's just planning a fun activity, losing yourself in a box set and enjoying a couple of drinks or treats, it's healthy to have a break from routine every now and again. Here are some of my favourite easy watches, treats and fun activities that always puts me in a good mood.
ACTIVITIES - Heading out for brunch, going to the cinema, spa day, watching live sport, shopping, visiting an art gallery, afternoon tea, ceramic painting cafe & going to the theatre.
BOX SETS - My go-to's for chilling out. Our Planet, The Gilmore Girls, Instant Hotel, Killing Eve, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Ru Paul's Drag Race, Sex Education, Interior design masters & The Great British bake off.
FILMS - I could watch any of these films time and time again. UP, Cool Running's, The Help, Honey, Forest Gump, Sister Act, Eat Pray Love, little rascals, Dream Girls, The Princess Diaries, 10 things I hate about you & Matilda.
DRINKS - Two of favourite soft drinks are Rio Tropical & San Pellegrino Lemon and Mint. Being an athlete I don't drink very often but I love an Aperol Spritz or a infused G & T every now and again.
Adding some colour to my day always makes feel a little brighter. This can be done by simply dressing with vibrance, getting creative or just eating some colourful foods. Taking the time to be a little extra with my outfit choice and makeup application always makes me feel good. A colourful plate normally means plenty of fruit and veg, which is helpful for promoting good gut health and can have positive effects on our mental health too.
Taking some time to reflect can be a real positive for self growth. By reflecting, I find I can identify what I've learned and see what I can improve on more easily. Reflection is not something that has come naturally to me in the past, however with a little help from my mind coach Mike Cunningham who I have been working with for 5 years, I've seen a real benefit in refining the process through reflection and also acknowledging how far I have come.
Movement is magic. I find focusing my energy into movement, always lifts my mood. Exercise is proven to decrease stress and boost mood through the release of endorphins, which are a hormone that the body produces as a natural response to exercise, that can make us feel good. Movement doesn't have to be intense exercise, in fact I like to schedule in movement that's not part of my training, that just makes me feel good. See suggestion's below.
1. Walking - As someone who is very active, I can sometimes feel a bit low on my days off. A walk is an easy way to get some fresh air and a bit of gentle exercise.
2. Cycling - If the weather's good I'll always opt for a bike ride as my mode of transport.
3. Yoga - I have been doing yoga once a week for about 3 years and it's been great for a bit of variation in movement & supports my running by giving my muscles a good stretch too.
RESPECT & ROUTINE
Treating yourself with respect can be an act of self care. I find having a good routine makes it easier to treat myself with respect and make healthy lifestyle choices. Getting a good night's sleep, eating plenty of fruit and veg, staying hydrated and allowing myself the time to be organised can be transformational for me if I'm even feeling a little overwhelmed.
Connecting with other's and talking thing's out can be really cathartic. Even when I might not be in the mood to socialise, I know that I always feel better after seeing my friends or speaking to my support network. During COVID-19 this is something that may have been missing for a lot of us but there is plenty of support that you can access if you need to speak to someone. Mind mental health charity have set up Elefriend's which is a supportive online community where you can say as much or as little as you'd like. For other options to talk to someone, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123.
Photo by Ian Harrison, featuring fitness blogger Nicole Chapman