Across the globe, May is celebrated as the Mental Health Awareness month – or as I like to call it, the shrink’s Christmas. Most mental health professionals I know have eagerly been working towards launching awareness campaigns and social media posts to commemorate this month.
Sadly, being a therapist does not make one immune to FOMO. Being a part of the mental health community myself, I had to partake in the season’s greetings. So here is, in no particular order, my contribution to this frenzy and a miniscule attempt to remind readers to finally start taking self-care seriously. Some tips and reminders follow:
Spend time in nature – There is ample research to support the claim that spending time in green spaces can be therapeutic. Birdsongs and trees are a welcome break from the cacophony of the dusty urban landscape that we spend so much of our lives navigating.
Workout – A walk every morning, some stretching, a game of football or even just dancing will suffice to make the body release those feel-good hormones. Your daily commute and step count from walking from one office floor to another are a sorry excuse for exercise. It is time to renew vows with those abandoned new year resolutions!
Establish a healthy sleep routine – There is a reason kids appear to have an inextinguishable source of energy sometimes. Regular bedtimes and eight hours of gadget-free sleep are more potent anti-ageing techniques than those expensive retinol treatments. As exciting as it is to stay up late texting that gorgeous colleague, is it really worth the lethargy and fatigue that you are left with during the day?
Devote resources for leisure – You owe it to yourself to engage in feel-good things every now and then. This can be something as little as savouring a drink or reading a book, or more time and resource-intensive activities like travelling or learning a dance form. Whatever you choose to do, do it regularly and mindfully.
Practice the art of doing nothing – It is unnatural to expect oneself to be productive every waking minute of the day. Once in a while, take a break to just… be. Spend a day in bed or simply sit by the beach and stop yourself from accounting for the number of tasks you can get done. It helps to slow things down to rest and rejuvenate.
Follow-up on pending doctor’s and dentist’s appointments – This is the most basic form of self-care. Healthy body, healthy mind – you know all of that!
Nurture relationships outside of work – Make an effort to meet people offline and without an agenda. Check in on friends and family members that you value but are unable to meet often.
Draw boundaries – Say a polite yet affirmative “no” to nosy acquaintances, cancel plans that you aren’t excited about in the first place and reiterate work hours to colleagues who delegate work during your personal time. Your time is far too precious, does wasting it on a forced outing really spark joy?
Introspect – What are my current needs? What makes me happy? Why do I do the things I do? Take a look inwards, ask lots of questions and while you are at it, also indulge in some unabashed self-appreciation.
Schedule that damn therapy session! – You have probably been mulling over it and finding excuses to put it off for later. Understandable. Take it from someone who has been on both sides of the therapy table – it is only that first phone call that is the most daunting and soon enough you will find yourself making a list of “Things to Discuss with My Therapist Next Week”.