Self Care as treatment for stress/depression/anxiety

Everybody is talking about “self care” these days, and for good reason. How you do self care strongly affects your mental and emotional health.

I say this a lot…”If you want to FEEL differently, take a close look at your THOUGHTS, and your BEHAVIOURS”. It’s a tightly woven threesome; your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours all affect each other. That’s good news, because when you change only one, they improve both the others.

Basically, it works like this…If you physically care for yourself in various ways, what you’re doing is treating yourself as though you’re important and deserving of good things. If you act “AS IF” you are important, you will then start to believe it more strongly, and as you think more positive thoughts about yourself and your future, this can lead to feeling more resilience, happiness and self-esteem.

But what is “self care”? Here’s how I define it.

THE absence of self-harm: Freedom from addiction or other behaviours that hurt the body or soul.

RELAXATION and mindfulness: Taking time to do nothing is difficult for some people, but getting away from screens, putting your phone on silent and sitting in the sun doing nothing is good medicine. Take a moment to focus on your breath, meditate, or simply use your senses to be in touch with your immediate environment in the “now”. What do you see, hear, feel?

FOOD and nutrition: Avoid junk food and excess sugar, put healthy things in your body, taking your vitamin D (deficiencies are linked to depression) and other important nutrients or supplements.

SLEEP: Talk about sleep hygiene is everywhere; the importance of proper rest has never been more understood. It’s about both the number of hours and the quality of your sleep.

EXERCISE: Moving and stretching your body is as powerful as an antidepressant, without any negative side effects. If you are serious about your mental and emotional health, it’s time to stop putting this off!

JOY and growth: Are you doing the things that make you happy? Are you living a vital life; learning new things, taking on new challenges and having adventures large and small? If you are growing, you’re telling your soul that you have hope for a vibrant future.

RELATIONSHIPS: Many people fail to recognise how honouring yourself in relationships is self care. Are you protecting yourself with proper boundaries and not letting people hurt you or take advantage of you?

PHYSICAL and oral health: Apparently flossing is connected to your body’s general state of health. My dental hygienist managed to convince me to build in this habit! Do you pay attention to symptoms and consult with a physician rather than diagnose yourself? I also have regular massages from an RMT and chiropractic adjustments to be proactive about my health. How do you take care of your body?

GETTING support from a loved one or qualified therapist is definitely self care. The gift of good mental health lasts a lifetime!


Lynda Martens, MSc, RMFT

Lynda Pic Martens smaller_2

About Lynda

Lynda is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in London, Ontario. She blogs about relationships, emotional regulation and other mental health and wellness issues.

December 12, 2017

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

9 + 5 =