Gooden Center
A residential drug treatment center for men located in Pasadena, CA. The Gooden Center is a proud member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

(626) 356-0078
191 North El Molino Avenue Pasadena, CA 91101 US

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The Importance of Self-Care for Mental Health

Posted on: April 10th, 2019 by The Gooden Center No Comments

The Importance of Self-Care for Mental Health

What words come to mind when you think about mental health treatment? Medication, maybe. Therapy of all kinds: CBT, DBT, existential, behavioral.

All of these have something in common. They’re prescribed or facilitated by licensed mental health professionals. However, the final piece of the puzzle is something that everyone can implement on their own: self-care.

Self-care is crucial for mental health, and is highly recommended even for those who are doing okay. Without self-care, all other treatments are fighting an uphill battle. Yes, they work. But their effectiveness is tempered by self-neglect.

Why is self-care so important for mental health? Let’s start by defining exactly what we’re referring to when we speak of self-care.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care refers to anything you do to improve your wellbeing and happiness. This can include anything from regular exercise to the occasional bubble bath.

Usually, we speak of it in the context of doing things for yourself that, technically, don’t need to be done. You don’t need a massage. You don’t need to listen to relaxing music or go out to the movies. Doing these things therefore epitomizes self-care. Some would consider it indulgent, as it isn’t technically productive time. But it does something of far greater value than most of what we consider productive activity.

Why Does Self-Care Impact Mental Health?

Some forms of self-care are intuitively helpful for mental health. Exercise, eating well, and sleeping well, all affect our physical health as well as giving us energy to do what needs to be done every day.

But how do hobbies, baths, and the like make a difference to mental health? There are 3 main reasons.

A Sense of Security

When it comes down to it, anxiety is a product of feeling unsafe in one way or another. It differs from fear in that it is not an urgent, life threatening sense of danger we’re worried about. Rather, anxiety relates to the things that keep our world as we know it in order.

Unfortunately, the solution to the problems excessive anxiety causes us cannot be to fix everything in our lives and keep everything in control. That’s impossible, especially because it’s not really up to us most of the time.

Therapy helps us learn to manage the anxiety, but self-care has its own important place. Self-care, quite simply, makes us feel cared for. When we know we’re cared for, we feel a sense of security. That sense of security reduces the potency of the anxiety. Yes, the triggers remain, but you will feel like a more robust person, ready to deal with them.

Because You’re Worth It

One common factor in most mental illnesses is a shaky sense of self. You’re questioning who you are and, more urgently, whether you matter at all. You may not have received the unconditional love of a parent, or maybe you interpreted their care as coming at a steep price.

Whatever the reason is, you need to develop your sense of self in order to truly heal. Self-care is a perfect start. Your mind may shred all evidence that others find you worthwhile, but actions can be potent regardless. Taking care of yourself is a practical demonstration of your own self-worth. In a way, it’s as if you’re “faking it til you make it”.

Yourself And Others

In case you feel that self-care is, in fact, selfish, here’s the good news. Without caring for yourself, you’re not going to be able to care for others. As RuPaul puts it:

“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

In other words, you’re the person you spend most of your time with. You’re the person who experiences your own attitudes and actions. If you’re not caring for yourself, you’re neglecting your caring skills altogether. Conversely, if you are giving yourself love and care, you build your caring skills and naturally start relating to others with more compassion and empathy.

Hopefully, you can see the importance of self-care for mental health. So, what can you do to care for yourself?

Self-Care Tips

The following are some of the tenets of good self-care:

  • Do things you enjoy. We tend to see hobbies as self-indulgent or a waste of time. After all, they don’t make us money and can take up a lot of time. But hobbies are often the very things that give us the sense of fulfillment we crave. Committing to do things you enjoy is the ultimate expression of self-care.
  • Be a pleasure connoisseur. Pleasure is also something seen as selfish or unnecessary. But pleasure is what gives life its glow, making us feel good and giving us energy to pursue our goals. However, if you indulge in pleasure mindlessly, you miss much of the experience and can end up doing unhealthy things. Rather, be a pleasure connoisseur, paying attention to the things you like and why you like them. Quality, in this case, is better than quantity.
  • See friends. Not everyone loves socializing all the time. But we all need it to some extent. If you’re not much of an extrovert, see friends in a one-on-one context. If you do love crowds, don’t feel guilty about taking a night off to go to a party or gathering.
  • Go home. Work is a hugely important part of our lives. And we treat it that way. It takes up much of our mindspace, as well as eight hours of every weekday. However, it is important to give yourself a break when you can. If you find yourself staying late at work when you don’t have to, or working on weekends, it is time to go home. Work may give you satisfaction and fulfillment, and at the least it gives you financial security, but we all need time away from it.

Self-care is incredibly important to mental health. By focusing on self-care, you make yourself less vulnerable to mental illness, and make recovery that much smoother.

Following a Wellness Recovery Action Plan

Posted on: January 29th, 2018 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Wellness Recovery Plan

When you discover that you have mental health issues through a diagnosis it can be overwhelming to think of how it will affect your life. Even though mental health can be complex, it can be helpful for people to find ways that they can take action for their own well being. People need to have tools available to them to be able to manage their mental illness day to day.

A wellness recovery action plan is a way for people to work toward taking control of their mental health so that they are not always at the mercy of their symptoms. It is a process by which people can decrease their troubling thoughts and behaviors, increase their feelings of personal empowerment, improve the quality of their life and reach their goals. Many treatment programs offer their patients help through creating a wellness recovery action plan or WRAP that will be personalized to their needs.

In order to overcome personal wellness issues people need to be equipped with tools that make it easier to navigate daily life. A WRAP is a way for them to help figure out what tools they need and how to apply them to various situations that affect their mental health and wellness. Having an action plan helps people to feel more prepared and informed about their mental health problems.

Key Elements of an Action Plan

In the process of developing an action plan, patients will need to focus on a few key elements. They will need to make a list of things that help improve their wellness so that it is part of their toolbox whenever they are experiencing symptoms. Resources for wellness could include things like contacting friends or supporters, counseling, mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques, journaling or other actions that they find personally help them feel better.

Once a patient knows what their wellness tools are they will know where to turn or what actions to take when they are feeling an onset of symptoms. Their action plan can also include ideas for daily maintenance so that they know what they need to accomplish everyday to maintain their wellness. They could incorporate some of their wellness tools as part of their daily routine so that they minimize stress and prevent triggers.

As part of their wellness recovery action plan, patients also need to know as much as possible about their own personal triggers. A trigger is some type of external circumstance, or event that can make you feel uncomfortable and lead to symptoms of your disorder such as anxiety or depression. When patients are aware of their triggers they can find ways to avoid them or manage them the best that they can.

In addition to recognizing triggers, patients must be aware of the early warning signs that their mental health is beginning to suffer. These could be internal, subtle signs that you feel worse than usual and the feelings could escalate if you don’t manage them with the right actions. It is important to take advantage of wellness tools any time trigger and early warning signs become an issue.

Handling a Crisis

Another crucial part of a WRAP is having a crisis plan in advance so that you will know what actions to take should you experience a difficult episode of your mental illness. Even with careful maintenance a crisis can occur at any time and you need to be prepared to handle it. You should be able to recognize signs of a crisis as early as possible so that you can ask caretakers or friends for support.

You should have a plan in place for you want to take over responsibilities for you during a crisis and what type of healthcare you will need. Make sure whoever is supporting you understands what they will need to do to provide you with care and what possible actions they should avoid for your wellness. You can also have a post-crisis plan so that you know what to do to get yourself well again and back on your daily maintenance plan.

You recovery action plan needs to take into account every possibility that could occur with your illness. From daily maintenance of mental health symptoms to a more intense episode, it is important to be prepared for absolutely everything. Having a crisis plan in place helps patients feel more confident about how to handle potential issues in the future.

A WRAP is something you can work on with your therapist or while you are in a treatment program. It will continue to be useful even after you have stabilized and are feeling better. No matter what stage you are in with your mental health, life can be unpredictable and a wellness recovery action plan can help you be ready for anything.