Mental health is getting increasing importance in all walks of life. In these days where stress is the other name of life, it becomes imperative to take care of oneself not only physically but mentally too. Now self-care is viewed as a chore by many and we just tend to delay it giving our other responsibilities a priority.
We should remember that no matter what our health cannot come secondary to anything. Remember the saying “health is wealth”? And this is indeed true because unless you are not healthy neither will you be able to work, nor earn that money, and neither can you enjoy the little moments in life.
How then can you make self-care more interesting? Here are some tips that will help your creative juices flow and make self-care a fun and enjoyable affair for you to indulge in.
What Is Self-Care?
According to Coster and Schwebel, self-care is described as the application of a range of activities with the goal being “well-functioning,” which is described as “the enduring quality in one’s professional functioning over time and in the face of professional and personal stressors”.
Researchers state that “Self-care is not an indulgence. It is an essential component of the prevention of distress, burnout, and impairment. It should not be considered as something ‘extra’ or ‘nice to do if you have the time but as an essential part of our professional identities”
In simple words, self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.
Self-care looks different for everyone, and it is important to find what you need and enjoy. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. In addition, although self-care is not a cure for mental illnesses, understanding what causes or triggers your mild symptoms and what coping techniques work for you can help manage your mental health.
Following are a few tips that can get you started with self-care
- Get regular exercise for 30 minutes daily.
- Eat healthily, have regular meals, and stay hydrated.
- Make sleep a priority.
- Try relaxing activities.
- Set goals and priorities.
- Practice gratitude.
- Focus on positivity.
- Stay connected with your friends and family.
But self-care may not be restricted to these above activities. You can always go above and beyond.
Creativity In Self Care
Drawing and painting are essential parts of one’s childhood. How many of us as children may have just opened those boxes of crayons and scribbled on the paper? And although the shapes may have not made sense at that time the colors gave us a different joy.
Your drawing or painting may not be perfect and we do not expect you to become the next Picasso but the efforts and concentration you put into completing a piece of art is a journey in itself. It will transport you into a new world and allow for an emotional release that will help reduce anxiety. Studies have shown that the use of art therapy as an adjunct treatment showed improved mental health in patients.
It is the art of folding paper. Origami emerged from the invention of paper and folded paper “Zhezhi” techniques in China. Centuries later, the skill of manufacturing paper was introduced to Japan via Korean influence. The word Origami is derived from the Japanese words “ori” (folding) and “kami” (paper). It was originally practiced as a ceremonial Shinto ritual and later gained popularity as a leisurely activity and art form
Origami is believed to have many mental health benefits like boosting mindfulness and focus. It has been used in art therapy to address psychological conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Origami is also a wonderful way to share time and connect with others.
Zentangle is a traditional art form that encourages focus and creativity by creating intricate designs using simple shapes. The process starts and ends with appreciation. A brief moment is dedicated to being thankful for the art materials, the opportunity to create, and anything else the individual feels the desire to acknowledge with gratitude.
It is easy to take some of these basic things for granted and so Zentangle aims to bring attention to all of these positive things that can sometimes be forgotten. The designs are nonrepresentational and have no clearly defined subject matter. This helps eliminate any expectations to achieve a certain level of perfection and realism that people often strive for when making art.
Journaling can be immensely helpful in processing events and emotions, understanding yourself better, and setting forth plans that will improve your life and help you thrive. Research suggests that journaling even helps to manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression.
Make journaling a regular part of your self-care routine by trying to write every day. Set aside a few minutes every day to write. Write whatever feels right. Your journal doesn’t need to follow any certain structure. It’s your private place to discuss whatever you want. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes or what other people might think. Use this writing time to de-stress and wind down. Write in a place that’s relaxing and soothing
It is the art of drawing letters in a system for a specific purpose or communicated message. Hand lettering has been proven to be a method of creative expression. With the combination of words, letters, and design expression, it can address mental health symptoms. For those that struggle with such symptoms and illnesses, having an accessible and affordable way to connect to self-care such as creating hand lettering is vitally important to overall well-being for a fulfilling life.
Studies have shown that combining the artistic and expressive aspects of hand lettering could be a way to address mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety, similar to the healing aspects of art therapy and art therapy practices.
A mandala is a geometric meditation map made of nested squares and circles, typically arranged to represent the center of the universe and the four main directions east, west, north, and south. Most painted mandalas are a two-dimensional flattened representation of three-dimensional structures. In Buddhism, these mandalas are worlds for meditators to enter and take their mental journey toward the center.
Previous research on Mandala art therapy has demonstrated its positive psychological effects on diverse groups. First, studies that applied Mandala art therapy to the general population found that it increased the subjective well-being of college, enhanced the self-awareness of nursing college students, and elevated the negative mood of healthy adults ultimately reducing burnout.
These are a few ways in which you can channel your creativity along with taking care of your mental health. As pointed out earlier you can think out of the box and personalize these creative ways and create your unique style for self-care too. The sky is your limit and your creative potential may know no boundaries!
Author: Dr Pooja Nilgar (Content writer and editor)
Bowen, J. B. (1998) ‘Creating a culture of cooperation’, Cataloging and Classification Quarterly, 26(3), pp. 73–85.
Shukla, A. et al. (2022) ‘Role of Art Therapy in the Promotion of Mental Health: A Critical Review’, Cureus, 14(8), pp. 1–6.
Edwards, C. and Hegerty, S., 2018. Where it’s cool to be kitty: An art therapy group for young people with mental health issues using origami and mindfulness. Social Work with Groups, 41(1-2), pp.151-164.
Immel, R. (2020) ‘Zentangles for Mental Health Awareness’. Available at: https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/honorsprojects.
Pennebaker, J.W., 2000. The effects of traumatic disclosure on physical and mental health: the values of writing and talking about upsetting events.
Kim, H. et al. (2018) ‘Effects of Mandala Art Therapy on Subjective Well-being, Resilience, and Hope in Psychiatric Inpatients’, Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 32(2), pp. 167–173. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2017.08.008.