Therapists help clients explore cognitive tools that can encourage self-love, also known as self-care. These days, more people than ever are prioritizing self-care.
The initial resistance to self-care may result from living in a country with movies that posit romantic love as supreme. While romantic love is wonderful, and many people crave companionship, romantic love is not a substitute for self-love.
Here are a few tips from one of our online therapists to put your self-care first, with your personalized spin on it.
Tip #1 – Find your top self-care activities
Self-care helps people cope with stress by offering sensory breaks and rejuvenation. Many activities can qualify as self-care, depending on the interests of the individual or group seeking relaxation. For some people, self-care might mean pampering themselves with a warm bath and scented candles; however, self-care is not limited to warm baths.
Self-care can be as simple as taking your lunch break outside or in a nearby park, with a view of nature. Other habits that can count as self-care include: making time for activities you love, saying “no” to group events that no longer interest you, finding a spiritual practice, or reading a book at night instead of scrolling through your phone. If you have a planner or notepad, start making a list of activities that make you relaxed, content, or joyful. Put the list where you can see it as a reminder of your options. When you have a 5-minute or a 5-hour time slot with no plans, do one of the activities on your list. To help you track your consistency, put a sticker or a tally to track how often you choose self-care.
Anyone can practice self-care. For more introspective self-care, which can include being more kind toward oneself or negotiating a guilt complex, having a therapist helps keep the practice consistent. With the trend of online therapy and teletherapy, more people are making therapy a part of their self-care routine.
Tip #2 – Remember that Romantic Comedies Are Not Realistic
Each year, romantic comedies bring joy to millions of people. From When Harry Met Sally to The Big Sick, there is no shortage of movies where single people become happier when united with a lover. Movies shape our cultural expectations even when we do not expect them to do that.
Take a moment to reflect on a movie about romantic love: what is the main message? Many movies follow a Cinderella plot where a lonely, sad person is promised an exciting life with a new, dashing person. But what about the people who do not find that person? Or people who do find that person and marry, but slowly feel miserable? Self-care can help people whether they are in a relationship or not.
When we remember how to love ourselves, we also remember how to love people in our life more deeply. If you have ever been stressed and low on sleep, or grumpy because you did not get time to relax on your break, then you know from personal experience what happens when your self-care routine falters.
Tip #3 – Know When to Give Your Brain a Break
As we encourage in many of our blogs, people understand when someone with a broken leg needs crutches. There is no stigma for having a broken leg and needing support. Yet when it comes to the brain–a key organ in our body–needing support, many people feel the internalized stigma of seeking medication. Luckily, this stigma is changing as people share their mental health journey more with each other.
If you have experienced high anxiety or depression–or any other mental health challenge–for a long time in your life, maybe it is time to consider medication. Needing medication does not mean you have somehow failed; some brains need more support, the same way an injured leg might need crutches.
Celebrities like Selena Gomez and Kristen Bell, who both navigate mental illness, have shared how taking medication changed their life for the better. When big names like Gomez and Bell share their mental health journey with the public, it helps decrease the stigma around mental illness. Online psychiatry has made it even easier to manage medication with a licensed professional who cares about your well-being.
At HomePsych, we make medication management easy. Our team can also answer questions about medicine, side effects, affordability, and dosage.
Make Self-Love and Self-Compassion Your Priority
Making habits that encourage self-love is a great step to feeling better. If you are making a goal for your self-care journey, make sure to keep it measurable and relevant to your lifestyle. If you do not have a budget for a monthly spa pass, consider instead finding a public park within your hometown, where you can make an effort to walk three times a week, or perhaps sit on a bench without the distraction of your phone.
Therapists can also help you lean into self-love at a deeper level by helping you understand your triggers or thought patterns. Knowing yourself is a key part of feeling compassion for yourself, and for all of the experiences you have had to navigate thus far.