Take care of your own mental health

Posted on August 07, 2021 | Author Manisha Shastri, Dr Soumitra Pathare

In an increasingly individualistic world, where people are reduced to their productivity, taking care of yourself becomes a radical act. For people living with mental health problems, the consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist / counselor provide information on what kind of self-care is best suited for the person. This is based on an understanding of the person’s condition and the nature of their distress.

Usually family and friends also offer self-care advice, but these are rarely informed by the person’s needs. Instead, it is an opinion based on limited knowledge, understanding, and concern for the well-being of their loved one.

Generally, personal care is promoted as performing certain activities to improve well-being. In fact, although personal care is a “specter”. It is not a singular activity or exercise, it is rather a changing, continuous and introspective journey, forcing us to better understand ourselves. This includes identifying our strengths, weaknesses and triggers or stressors.

Along with a better understanding of oneself, acceptance is an important factor in self-empowerment. Often times when we are going through negative emotions or distressing circumstances, we seek to distract ourselves or get overwhelmed. During such times however, the mind may behave like a “pig wrestling” which will not bring you any relief, but the pig will benefit fully.

Acceptance opens up a variety of avenues for self-care, which can look and mean different to different people, depending on the context and circumstances. For some, taking care of yourself may mean a few extra hours of sleep to give your mind a break from the thought loops or just sit there feeling, take a step back at work, or decide to do nothing for the day.

It also involves putting yourself first and creating the required limits. Making these choices or drawing boundaries might be seen by others as selfish, but it’s important because it helps to regain a sense of control and agency over one’s own life.

Given the stigma and taboo surrounding mental illness in our country, it is difficult for people to speak honestly about their struggles and struggles, fearing that they will be discriminated against or excluded.

But it’s important to find peers with similar struggles that you can confide in. As we begin to talk about our own struggles, we begin to discover other people with similar experiences who may sympathize with us. These peer relationships are an important mediating factor in personal care. Not only do these relationships provide a safe space to lay bare our vulnerabilities, but they also organically become spaces for co-learning and growth.

Self-care is not one-dimensional, nor always the same, what is important is that it is consistent. As we grow older we understand ourselves and our needs, we also find new ways and forms to take care of our mind and well-being.

Manisha Shastri is Associate Researcher at the Center for Mental Health Law and Policy, ILS Pune and Dr Soumitra Pathare is Psychiatrist and Director of the Center for Mental Health Law and Policy, ILS, Pune.

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