By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai
Taking good care of yourself is paramount to the success of your recovery process. People in recovery find that their physical, spiritual, and emotional health’s are all connected, and that supporting one supports the others. Taking care of all aspects of you will increase the likelihood that you stay well. 
Self-care is a generalized term that’s recently grown in popularity. A good self-care definition is regularly doing things for yourself that make you feel good. These can be small self-care tips like picking up your favorite latte on the way to work, or something on a grander scale like booking an international vacation.
Self-care activities are critical to our mental health and emotional well-being. When you prioritize yourself, you not only ensure you are the best “you” possible, but you also reinvigorate yourself. You have more energy and joy to give in other areas of your life.
As we mentioned above, you can’t be your best for others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. 
What exactly is self care?
What is self care? The dictionary defines it as ‘the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness’, which summaries the modern take on it. It also mentions that this is particularly important at periods of high stress.
Why is self care so important?
In a busy modern world, it’s important to remember to look after our base needs as humans. We need healthy food, we need to feel safe and we need to rest. It’s very easy to lose sight of these primal requirements when we’re surrounded by technology, and leading hectic lives.
Self care is often about disconnecting with the world both physically and virtually and putting your needs first.
Self care is especially important for those with stressful jobs -like social workers, nurses and teachers.
It’s also a crucial part of a preconception care. If you are a parent or mum, or hoping to become one, creating a robust self care routine is strongly advised.
Fertility and stress are intrinsically linked, so it could also help increase your chances of conceiving.
Having a good self care routine will also help nurture your good relationships with others. 
Some tips for self-care: 
- Live Healthy, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and avoid drugs and alcohol. Manage stress and go for regular medical check-ups.
- Practice good hygiene. Good hygiene is important for social, medical, and psychological reasons in that it not only reduces the risk of illness, but it also improves the way others view you and how you view yourself.
- See friends to build your sense of belonging. Consider joining a support group to make new friends.
- Try to do something you enjoy every day. That might mean dancing, watching a favorite TV show, working in the garden, painting or reading.
- Find ways to relax, like meditation, yoga, getting a massage, taking a bath or walking in the woods.
- Strengthen Your Connections- The importance of incorporating joy, spirit, and relaxation in your life has many implications in developing resiliency (the ability to recover from an illness) and staying healthy.
The four C’s to joy, spirit, and relaxation are: connect with yourself, connect with others, connect to your community, and create joy and satisfaction. As you use these four C’s remember to continue trying to push your comfort levels and do things you may not have done before.
- Connect With yourself– It is important that you check in with yourself periodically. If you do not then you may not realize that things are changing or getting out of control. Checking in with yourself allows you the opportunity to evaluate where you are in your recovery. You may find that you need to readjust what step of your action plan you are on or try different coping tools.
- If you have had low times in the past you understand how hard it can be to get out of those places. Learning all that you can about your mental health condition will help let you know that your hard times are not your fault. Making a list of accomplishments that you have achieved is a good resource to turn back to when you are feeling low.
- Another tool that may help you is to journal about your experiences. Keeping a journal is a great way to learn about you.
- Another method of connecting with yourself is to become an advocate and share your story.
- Connect with Others- spending time with positive, loving people you care about and trust can ease stress, help your mood and improve the way you feel overall. They may be family members, close friends, members of a support group or a peer counselor at the local drop-in center.
Connection happens when you get:
- Concrete help, such as having a friend pick your kids up from school;
- Emotional support, like hearing someone say, “I’m really sorry you’re having such a tough time”;
- Perspective, like being reminded that even the moodiest teenagers grow up;
- Advice, such as a suggestion to plan a weekly date with your spouse;
- Validation, like learning that other folks love reading train schedules too.
3. Connect to Your Community- A great way to feel emotionally strong and resilient in times of stress is to feel connected to a broad community. Think about the things you like to do. You can expand your social network by looking into a community organization that brings people together who shares the same interests. For instance, many communities have local biking, hiking, or walking groups. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do like learn a new language? Take a class, or join a local group.
4. Create Joy and Satisfaction- Living with a mental health condition can be taxing emotionally, physically, and mentally. Experts have found that good feelings can boost your ability to deal with stress, solve problems, think flexibly, and even fight disease. Taking care of your body emotionally, physically, and mentally through creating joy and satisfaction is an important part of living with or without a mental health condition.
Some tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Mind 
1. Start a compliments file. Document the great things people say about you to read later.
2. Scratch off a lurker on your to-do list, something that’s been there for ages and you’ll never do.
3. Change up the way you make decisions. Decide something with your heart if you usually use your head. Or if you tend to go with your heart, decide with your head.
4. Go cloud-watching. Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.
5. Take another route to work. Mixing up your routine in small ways creates new neural pathways in the brain to keep it healthy.
6. Pay complete attention to something you usually do on autopilot, perhaps brushing your teeth, driving, eating, or performing your morning routine.
7. Goof around for a bit. Schedule in five minutes of “play” several times throughout your day.
8. Create a deliberate habit, and routinize something small in your life by doing it in the same way each day what you wear on Tuesdays, or picking up the dental floss before you brush.
9. Fix a small annoyance at home that’s been nagging you a button lost, a drawer that’s stuck, a light bulb that’s gone.
10. Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation with one minute of awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations; one minute of focused attention on breathing; and one minute of awareness of the body as a whole.
11. Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.
12. Do a mini-declutter. Recycle three things from your wardrobe that you don’t love or regularly wear.
13. Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bings of social media and email.
14. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just talking to a stranger at the bus stop.
15. Edit your social media feeds, and take out any negative people. You can just “mute” them; you don’t have to delete them.
Some tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Body 
1. Give your body ten minutes of mindful attention. Use the body scan technique to check in with each part of your body.
2. Oxygenate by taking three deep breaths. Breathe into your abdomen, and let the air puff out your stomach and chest.
3. Get down and boogie. Put on your favorite upbeat record and shake your booty.
4. Stretch out the kinks. If you’re at work, you can always head to the bathroom to avoid strange looks.
5. Run for a few minutes. Or go up and down the stairs three times.
6. Narrow your food choices. Pick two healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and rotate for the week.
7. Activate your self-soothing system. Stroke your own arm, or if that feels too weird, moisturize.
8. Get to know yourself intimately. Look lovingly and without judgment at yourself naked.
9. Make one small change to your diet for the week. Drink an extra glass of water each day, or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.
10. Give your body a treat. Pick something from your wardrobe that feels great next to your skin.
11. Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes.
12. Get fifteen minutes of sun, especially if you’re in a cold climate.
13. Inhale an upbeat smell. Try peppermint to suppress food cravings and boost mood and motivation.
14. Have a good laugh. Read a couple of comic strips that you enjoy.
15. Take a quick nap. Ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.
Some tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Soul 
1. Imagine you’re your best friend. If you were, what would you tell yourself right now? Look in the mirror and say it.
2. Use your commute for a “Beauty Scavenger Hunt.” Find five unexpected beautiful things on your way to work.
3. Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.
4. Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and just name without judgment what you’re feeling.
5. Write out your thoughts. Go for fifteen minutes on anything bothering you. Then let it go as you burn or bin the paper.
6. Choose who you spend your time with today. Hang out with “Radiators” who emit enthusiasm and positivity, and not “Drains” whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.
7. Stroke a pet. If you don’t have one, go to the park and find one.
8. Get positive feedback. Ask three good friends to tell you what they love about you.
9. Make a small connection. Have a few sentences of conversation with someone in customer service such as a sales assistant or barista.
10. Splurge a little. Buy a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.
11. Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)
12. Exercise signature strength. Think about what you’re good at, and find an opportunity for it today.
13. Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.
14. Ask for help big or small, but reach out.
15. Plan a two-day holiday for next weekend. Turn off your phone, tell people you’ll be away, and then do something new in your own town.