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Seven Keys to Mental Health. Number One: Look After Your Own Needs.

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The 7 Keys to Mental Health. Number 1: Look After Your Own Needs.

This is the first in a series of blog posts about The 7 Keys to Mental Health. Today we’re looking at Key Number 1:

Look after your own needs.

Be assertive in identifying and meeting your own needs, whether it be for food, exercise, relaxation, pleasure, work, laughter or love. We all need to have good self-care skills.

“Treat yourself with kindness”

What does this mean to you?

From a therapeutic standpoint, treating yourself with kindness is a fundamental skill for maintaining, improving or enhancing wellbeing.

While it sounds like a very simple concept, it is one of the things I find most clients struggle with and it certainly isn’t taught in schools. While it is important to treat others with kindness (indeed there are a host of benefits for our emotional and mental wellbeing in doing so) self-care is a foundation skill.

Why? If we don’t care for ourselves, our wellbeing falters, causing us to function poorly in our roles as friends, carers, parents, professionals, etc We must be good to ourselves and for ourselves in order to be any good for anybody else.

So, how do you go about being kind to yourself?

  1. Make a list of small, and big, activities that bring you joy and pleasure such as: taking a bath, buying or picking flowers, watching a funny movie, sitting in the sun, listening to music, going to the theatre, browsing in a bookstore, doodling on paper, going for a stroll… See below for a list of ideas
  2. Choose things on the list that have given you pleasure in the past or seem as though they could now.
  3. Choose a day and time in which to practise these activities, starting with today and a 15 minute time frame.
  4. Take note of how you feel when you are being kind to yourself. If you note that you feel better, repeat. Even if you do not feel immediately better perhaps you feel good that you have actually taken a step to be kind to yourself.

Another, key, aspect of being kind to yourself is to practise Mindful Self-compassion. Check out a 2 minute video by Kristin Neff here: 

 

Here is a list of activities that may be of use in working out what works for you.

Happy self-care!

1. Soaking in the bathtub
2. Planning my career
3. Collecting things (coins, shells, etc.)
4. Going for a holiday
5. Recycling old items
6. Relaxing
7. Going on a date
8. Going to a movie
9. Jogging, walking
10. Listening to music
11. Thinking I have done a full day’s work
12. Recalling past parties
13. Buying household gadgets
14. Lying in the sun
15. Planning a career change
16. Laughing
17. Thinking about my past trips
18. Listening to others
19. Reading magazines or newspapers
20. Hobbies (stamp collecting, model building, etc.)
21. Spending an evening with good friends
22. Planning a day’s activities

23. Meeting new people

24. Remembering beautiful scenery

25. Saving money
26. Listening to bird call audios on the internet
27. Going to the gym, doing aerobics
28. Eating a healthy meal
29. Painting your nails

30. Getting out of debt/paying debts
31. Practising karate, judo, yoga
32. Meditating
33. Repairing things around the house
34. Working on your car or bicycle
35. Remembering the words and deeds of loving people
36. Wearing sexy clothes
37. Having quiet evenings
38. Taking care of plants
39. Buying, selling stocks and shares
40. Going swimming
41. Doodling
42. Exercising
43. Collecting old things
44. Going to a party
45. Thinking about buying things
46. Catching a bus or train and just seeing where it takes you
47. Playing soccer
48. Flying kites
49. Having discussions with friends
50. Having family get-togethers
51. Riding a motorbike
52. Sex
53. Playing squash
54. Going camping
55. Singing around the house
56. Arranging flowers
57. Going to church, praying (practising religion)

58. Losing weight
59. Going to the beach
60. Thinking “I’m an OK person”
61. A day with nothing to do
62. Having class reunions
63. Going ice skating, roller skating/blading
64. Going sailing
65.Travelling abroad, interstate or within the state

66. Sketching, painting
67. Doing something spontaneously

68. Doing embroidery, cross stitching

69. Sleeping
70. Going for a leisurely drive
71. Entertaining

72. Going to clubs (garden, sewing, etc.)

73. Thinking about getting married
74. Going birdwatching
75. Singing with groups

76. Flirting
77. Playing musical instruments
78. Doing arts and crafts
79. Making a gift for someone
80. Buying CDs, tapes, records
81. Watching boxing, wrestling
82. Planning parties
83. Cooking, baking
84. Going hiking, bush walking
85. Writing books (poems, articles)
86. Sewing
87. Buying clothes
88. Working
89. Going out to dinner
90. Discussing books
91. Sightseeing
92. Gardening
93. Going to the hairdresser
94. Early morning coffee and newspaper
95. Playing tennis
96. Kissing
97. Watching your children (play)
98. Making a list of 3 things you are grateful for today
99. Going to see a play
100. Daydreaming
101. Planning to go to university
102. Going for a drive
103. Listening to a podcast
104. Refinishing furniture
105. Watching Netflix
106. Making lists of tasks
107. Going bike riding
108. Walks on the riverfront/foreshore
109. Buying gifts
110. Travelling to a national park
111. Completing a task
112. Thinking about your achievements in life

113. Going to a sporting event (or rugby, soccer, basketball, etc.)
114. Eating gooey, fattening foods
115. Exchanging emails, chatting on the internet

116. Photography

117. Going fishing
118. Thinking about pleasant events
119. Going for a swim
120. Star gazing
121. Starting a free online course on Coursera, EdX, etc
122. Reading fiction
123. Watching a TedX talk on YouTube
124. Being alone
125. Writing diary/journal entries or letters
126. Cleaning
127. Reading non-fiction
128. Taking your children places
129. Dancing
130. Going on a picnic
131. Thinking “I did that pretty well” after doing something
132. Taking some nice deep breaths
133. Playing volleyball
134. Having lunch with a friend
135. Going to the hills
136. Thinking about having a family
137. Thoughts about happy moments in your childhood
138. Splurging
139. Playing cards
140. Having a political discussion
141. Solving riddles mentally
142. Playing cricket
143. Seeing and/or showing photos

144. Knitting/crocheting/quilting
145. Doing crossword puzzles
146. Shooting pool
147. Dressing up and looking nice
148. Reflecting on how you’ve improved
149. Buying things for yourself
150. Talking on the phone
151. Going to museums, art galleries
152. Choosing a new recipe to cook
153. Surfing the internet
154. Lighting candles
155. Listening to the radio

156. Going to the library

157. Having coffee at a cafe
158. Getting/giving a massage

159. Saying “I love you”

160. Thinking about your good qualities

161. Buying books
162. Having a spa, or sauna
163. Going skiing

164. Going canoeing or white-water rafting

165. Going bowling
166. Doing woodwork
167. Fantasising about the future

168. Doing ballet, jazz/tap dancing

169. Debating
170. Playing computer games
171. Having an aquarium

172. Erotica (sex books, movies)
173. Going horseback riding
174. Going rock climbing
175. Do something for somebody

176. Doing something new
177. Making jigsaw puzzles
178. Thinking “I’m a person who can cope”

179. Playing with pets
180. Having a barbecue
181. Rearranging the furniture in my house

182. Buying new furniture
183. Going window shopping

184. Visiting somebody

185. Sending a letter or post card to someone

186. Asking for a cuddle

187. Giving money to a person who is begging on the street

188. Buying a takeaway meal

189. Sleeping in late

190. Drinking a glass of water

191. Moving your body

 

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