Self care is vital for everyone but it is especially important when it comes to chronic or mental illness. We go through so much in our day to day lives, making it even more important that we take care of ourselves and treat ourselves well.

Being kind to yourself can be difficult, especially if you’re feeling depressed which can often come with feelings of not being worthy or not feeling good enough, but it’s something that gets easier with practice. Making self care part of your routine and using it as one of your coping strategies can make things a little more pleasant for yourself in my experience.

Set aside time each day for self care

Setting aside time each day, no matter what your mood, how busy you are or what else you are doing, as part of your routine to focus on self care can be very valuable. Even if it’s only ten minutes or half an hour, you can use this time to do anything that helps you to relax and unwind away from outside distractions and worries. This could be as simple as taking a nice hot bubble bath, reading a book, meditating, drawing or taking a nap. Anything that helps you to unwind and that you feel able to do can help. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having a hard day and you can’t manage much, even just lying down and trying to relax your mind is practising self care.

Figure out what helps you relax

Figuring out what helps you to relax will be very beneficial. This can be a trial and error process as everyone is different. Some people find being active more relaxing such as exercising or doing crafts while others like to pamper themselves or use meditation or mindfulness. Take the time to try out things that you think may help you feel good. The process of trying new things and seeing what you enjoy is a self care exercise in itself.

Remember there’s no wrong way to practise self care

Remember that whatever works for you is ok, there’s no ‘right’ way to practice self care, there are no rules. Whatever helps your mind and body relax or brings you joy is something that you can focus on. It’s all about you, so don’t feel pressured to do what other people might be doing. The whole purpose is to take care of yourself; you don’t need to worry about what other people think.

Treat your mind and body with respect

Ensure that you are treating yourself well. Do your best to treat your body well as much as your illness and lifestyle will allow. This can include eating well, exercising when you can, practising good personal hygiene, attending appointments and nourishing your health.  Treat your mind well by encouraging yourself, trying to have a positive attitude if your mind allows and not being too hard on yourself. These things are easier said than done when you are not feeling well, but they are things that you can work towards and try your best to keep up with when you’re able.

Ask for help if you need it

A massive part of self care is knowing when you need to ask for help, whether this be from a professional or a loved one. Reaching out in a time of need when you know you don’t have the motivation to care for yourself is a form of self care. I’m a firm believer that asking for help is a sign of strength and never weakness.

Overall practicing self care is something we should all do, regardless of whether we have a chronic illness, a mental illness or anything else. Life can be hard and taking the time to make yourself feel good, even if only in a small way, can make a big difference.