Making time for yourself is neither selfish nor indulgent, it’s necessary.
What we do affects our mood. When we feel overwhelmed and stressed we spend more time doing jobs, we reduce the time we normally spend socialising or engaging in hobbies/enjoyable activities. Essentially we cut out the things that can help us to feel good, happy or fulfilled. The result of which can be increased stress levels and lowered mood.
This cycle doesn’t just apply to stress, behaviour impacts a range of emotions; when we feel depressed we do less and withdraw socially, this serves to further reduce our mood. Similarly, when we are anxious we tend to avoid going out, we reduce social contact, thus increasing anxiety in the long term and increasing the likelihood of experiencing low mood.
We can see how our behaviour impacts upon the way we feel, however, the examples here illustrate how our behaviour negatively affects mood but it can also have the opposite effect. Let’s look at how you can use your behaviour in order to encourage mental wellbeing. We need to be more aware of what we do, to keep it simple consider these three elements:
• Closeness to others
• Pleasurable activities
The key is to create a balance between these three factors (CAP).
Closeness to others
Socialising and connecting with others boosts oxytocin. Mix with others on a regular basis. Meet with friends or family members, smile at a passer by or make time for a colleague. The Internet and social media are a good place to start to build confidence socialising but the overall aim is to experience face to face contact.
Achievement and purposeful activity increases dopamine and serotonin. It is great to partake in purposeful activity to a limit. There are always jobs to be done but perhaps limit them, develop a realistic plan for the day. Don’t try to complete all of your jobs at the expense of your mental health.
Aim to do more enjoyable activities, a hobby, exercise, even something as simple as a hot bath, drinking of cup of tea whilst reading your favourite magazine. Whatever works for you.
The tricky thing is giving yourself permission to get a balance in these three areas. Don’t get caught up completing all of your jobs and neglecting what makes you happy and fulfilled. Whilst it’s hard to let things go, it can be in your best interest.
So here it is, permission to do something for yourself. It’s good for you!
If you are affected by stress and feel you need to talk about it or find a way to cope with it then contact Capital CBT at www.capitalcbt.com