Self-care and mental health

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An alternative viewpoint to my post Service and mental health, Ziya Tamesis of a day with depression talks about the importance of self-care to mental health, and how ze takes care of hirself to help with hir anxious depression. I definitely agree that self-care is very important to mental health. Ultimately, it’s important for everyone (not just mad people/people with mental illness!) to find a balance between serving others or a cause and tending to one’s own needs and pleasures. Some may already have such a balance, and if you’re one of those people, good for you! Tell me your secrets! 😉 Most people though, I’ve found, tend to lean more in one direction than the other if left to their own devices and not paying attention, and so need to practice the opposite end of the spectrum to arrive at a middle ground.

To take care of myself, I see a therapist and psychiatrist, attend Icarus Project and ASAN chapter meetings, talk to and spend time with my family and friends (in-person and also via social networking/Skype/phone/texting!), make art, dance (when my back cooperates with me), swim and do yoga (again, when my back cooperates with me), spend time in nature (when the weather cooperates with me), read, use aromatherapy, get massages, go to fun events, and practice my spirituality.

What do you do to take care of yourself, on an ongoing basis or when you’re having an especially rough time? How do you find a balance between “me time” and “other people time” that works for you?

a day with depression

At the end of the music therapy session I described in my last post, Wakana told me to make a list of all the things I’m doing “just for me.” She often gives me homework without holding me accountable for doing it, but this time I want to make an honest attempt at it.

I feel the need to justify doing anything “just” for me; to be honest it feels kind of selfish. I’m not sure if that’s the gender training talking (“women should put everyone else first”) or the depression; they’re most likely interrelated.

Whatever the case may be, and as much as I may struggle to believe it, my justification is this: everyone needs to do things that are just for themselves, it’s a vital part of self-care and all-around health / wellness. Doing things just for oneself does not reduce or limit the things one can do…

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