Self-Care for Mental Health and Chronic Illness

Elizabeth Holly helps us understand the link between chronic illlness and mental health in this post. Self-care is a viable coping solution for both. Enjoy! Be sure to add some of her tips into your routine.

The Importance of Self-Care for Your Mental Health

Self-care is the buzz word slipping from everyone's mouth these days, but is it important?

Simple answer - yes! And there's no reason self-care should be complicated or expensive as that can only lead to more stress and have the opposite of the desired effect.

If it stresses you out, then it is the furthest thing from self-care. Self-care is about taking care of yourself to protect your mental and physical well-being. If you're already dealing with a mental or chronic illness, then self-care becomes even more important.

The purpose of Self-Care is to reduce the negative effects of stress. Stress can be useful in small doses but when it becomes too much or last for too long, it can affect your physical and mental health negatively.

Self-care is an important way to take care of yourself, your mind and your body. It doesn't have to be extravagant or expensive. You don't have to leave the house or buy tons of supplies. Going overboard can cause more stress and lead to anxiety and even depression if things don't turn out as expected. Keep it simple.

What is Chronic Illness?

Chronic illness is a simple way of saying a longstanding condition that lasts for more than three months. For many chronic illnesses, they don't go away and rarely have cures. Some are progressive and some fluctuate day-to-day. Asthma, Crohn's Disease, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, are just a few chronic illnesses.

Chronic illness can severely impact your mental health and those that fight chronic illness are more likely to struggle with their mental health. On the other side, mental illness puts you at a higher risk for other medical conditions.  Managing your mental health can help to manage chronic illness.

Self-Care Ideas

Deep or Diaphragmatic Breathing - Deep Breathing is one of the most important self-care tools that requires nothing but a few moments of time, something everyone should fit into their day. It can lower the effects of the stress hormone cortisol on your body slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure. This is valuable as it will strengthen your core muscles and can help to manage problems with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, depression and anxiety and sleeplessness.

Learn Something New - Take up a new hobby. Learn to paint with watercolors, they are forgiving, inexpensive, and good for beginners. Try your hand at knitting, crochet or macrame or something to express your creativity. Use YouTube or a blog to follow a tutorial on something new.

Read a Book - Relax into a good book and really absorb the story as it unfolds. Reading allows us to see the world differently and learn to be more compassionate to others and to ourselves.

Color - Adult coloring books have been wildly popular for good reason, they are fun, relaxing and engage your creativity.

Take a Bath - Soaking your body in how water can soothe sore muscles and relax your body. Best before bed as the relaxing effects can be potent. Listen to some soft music, read a book, or light some candles and close your eyes for a full relaxing effect. This is the ultimate unwind after a long day, week, or month.

A Foot Soak - This one is a favorite and feels like a guilty pleasure because sometimes you just don't have time or energy to take a bath. With over 7000 nerves in each foot, soaking your feet is a wonderful alternative to taking a bath. Fill a large enough container with very warm water, relax in a chair and dip your feet in. Your feet will thank you. *Tip!* You can add Magnesium rich Epsom salt to your foot bath which helps to remove toxins from the body and reduce swelling and pain from inflammation in the feet. Always moisturize after a foot soak. No Epsom Salt? Try Vinegar as a refreshing cleanse and relieves dry feet.

Assess what Self-Care means to you. Keep it simple and easy for the most rewarding or relaxing experience.

Save this pin and use it as a self care cheat sheet.

Elizabeth Holly is a Women's Fiction writer and chronic illness blogger who blogs about chronic and mental illness, self-care and loves talking about books. She is passionate about sharing her journey as a writer with chronic and mental illness and how others can create and thrive despite chronic or mental illness. You can find her on her blog at A Chronic Wanderer, Facebook, Instagram.

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