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Published on July 11, 2022

Self-Care is Key for Mental Well-Being

By Dr. Tom Cardwell, PhD, Licensed Psychologist, Bryan Counseling Center

We all have times when the world feels like it's closing in on us. It might be work demands that seem overwhelming. It could be a spouse or partner that is uncommunicative or irritable. Maybe your child is not doing well in school.

You might wonder, what can I do to get through this, or can I even get through this? This is where self-care becomes so important. Are you doing things that increase your energy, confidence and coping skills? Here are five great ways to practice self-care:

Get Some Exercise

This is one of the best things you can do for self-care. A good brisk walk helps you gain energy and perspective. A run, bike ride or swim are other great activities. Raising your heart rate will burn calories and build cardiac fitness as well as help calm you. It also will help you sleep.

Call a Friend

Ask how they are doing. Invite them to coffee. We tend to assume we are the only one dealing with a particular set of problems. You’d be surprised how many people on the street or at the supermarket have similar concerns they are dealing with. Sometimes it helps to know you aren’t the only person out there struggling to get through the day. Be a good listener.

Resolve to Maintain Your Composure Under Stress

Don’t respond reflexively to negativity or perceived insults. Maturity often means not responding. Even if you are hurt, don’t respond in anger. Take a deep breath and then start to think about how to make the situation better. What is in your long-term best interest? Over reacting to some comment you may not fully understand, will not be helpful.

Make Some Forward Progress

Many of us ruminate about our problems but don’t take meaningful action. Resolve to make that phone call to your boss, son or daughter or partner. You don’t have to solve everything. Just start the two-way communication. If it’s a task, think about what you want to accomplish and write it down. Make it objective, measurable and time specific. “I’m going to do this next Tuesday.”

Realize Your Own Strength

You might be able to do more than you thought possible. You can learn from others even if their situation is different. An activity I find inspiring is reading about or listening to podcasts of people who have overcome problems in their lives. Steal (or borrow!) what works for you and ignore the rest.

Remember, you are unique. As you move through these things, you might consider: What is your personal long-range plan? Are you making progress or are you stuck? Have you taken any calculated risks such as enrolling in a college class, volunteering for a cause you believe in, or taken a trip somewhere special to you? Do you think big enough? There is a saying that we regret most the things we never tried.

If you are struggling and not sure what is causing those struggles, take our free, confidential behavioral health screening.

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