"Self-care" has certainly become a buzz word in recent years, but what is it, really? True self care means taking care of your whole self in a way that works for you. A balanced you mentally, emotionally, and physically means you can be your best you with family, socially, at work, and even when you're alone.
By Raphailia Michael, MA
When asked the question: “Do you take care of yourself?” most of us will answer “yes” — we’d even think, “What kind of question is this? Of course, I care about myself.”
When asked, “In what ways do you take care of yourself?” — well, that’s where the tricky part begins.
What is self-care?
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.
What isn’t self-care?
Knowing what self-care is not might be even more important. It is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing. As Agnes Wainman explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”
Self-care isn’t a selfish act either. It is not only about considering our needs; it is rather about knowing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, being subsequently, able to take care of others as well. That is, if I don’t take enough care of myself, I won’t be in the place to give to my loved ones either.
In a few words, self-care is the key to living a balanced life
Where do you start? Well, there are three golden rules:
Although self-care means different things to different people, there’s a basic checklist that can be followed by all of us:
Set up a 15-day self-care routine and see how you feel before and after. And never forget: As with everything, self-care takes practice!
Exercise is an amazing benefit to both physical and mental health and something anybody is capable of in some way. This article largely discusses the use of exercise in inpatient treatment facilities, but it is equally as beneficial in outpatient treatment. A little movement can go a long way!
Summary: Adding exercise as a treatment for patients in psychiatric care facilities has positive benefits and is proving to be more effective than medications or psychotherapy alone. Exercise helps reduce mental health disorder symptoms such as anxiety, depression, anger and psychomotor agitation. Researchers say exercise also helps to develop a more balanced and integrated sense of self for those with mental health disorders.
Source: University of Vermont
When it comes to inpatient treatment of a range of mental health and mood disorders — from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia, suicidality and acute psychotic episodes — a new study advocates for exercise, rather than psychotropic medications, as the primary prescription and method of intervention. Findings from the study reveal that physical exercise is so effective at alleviating patient symptoms that it could reduce patients’ time admitted to acute facilities and reliance on psychotropic medications.
“The general attitude of medicine is that you treat the primary problem first, and exercise was never considered to be a life or death treatment option. Now that we know it’s so effective, it can become as fundamental as pharmacological intervention,” explains David Tomasi, a lecturer at the University of Vermont, psychotherapist and inpatient psychiatry group therapist at the University of Vermont Medical Center and lead researcher of the study.
Practitioners at inpatient psychiatric facilities — often crowded, acute settings in which patients experience severe distress and discomfort — typically prescribe psychotropic medications first, rather than natural remedies like physical exercise, to alleviate patients’ symptoms such as anger, anxiety and depression. In fact, Tomasi estimates that only a handful of inpatient psychiatric hospitals in the U.S. provide psychotherapist-supported gym facilities exclusively for these patients. Instead, practitioners rely on classical psychotherapeutic and pharmacological frameworks to treat psychiatric symptoms, which they monitor to determine when a patient is ready to be discharged from the facility.
Tomasi, in collaboration with UVMMC’s Sheri Gates and Emily Reyns, built a gym exclusively for roughly 100 patients in the medical center’s inpatient psychiatry unit, and led and introduced 60-minute structured exercise and nutrition education programs into their treatment plans. The psychotherapists surveyed patients on their mood, self-esteem and self-image both before and after the exercise sessions to gauge the effects of exercise on psychiatric symptoms.
Patients reported lower levels of anger, anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, and overall improved moods. Tomasi, Gates and Reyns found an average of 95 percent of patients reported that their moods improved after doing the structured exercises, while 63 percent of the patients reported being happy or very happy, as opposed to neutral, sad or very sad, after the exercises. An average of 91.8 of patients also reported that they were pleased with the way their bodies felt after doing the structured exercises.
“The fantastic thing about these results is that, if you’re in a psychotic state, you’re sort of limited with what you can do in terms of talk therapy or psychotherapy. It’s hard to receive a message through talk therapy in that state, whereas with exercise, you can use your body and not rely on emotional intelligence alone” explains Tomasi.
“The priority is to provide more natural strategies for the treatment of mood disorders, depression and anxiety,” he adds. “In practice, we hope that every psychiatric facility will include integrative therapies — in our case, exercise in particular — as the primary resource for their patients’ psycho-physical wellbeing.”
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