Mind, Body, and Soul: The Importance of Self Care


Sarah Jacobson

Some options for self care include journaling, taking a bath, reading, or exercise.

Sarah Jacobson, Editor-in-Chief

The busy schedules of many high school students inevitably lead to one thing: stress. We often spend so much of our day completing homework, writing essays, and studying for tests that we forget to spend time on ourselves. One of the best things we can do for our mental health is set aside a little bit of time everyday to assess how we feel mentally, and then address any negative emotions.

Oxford Dictionaries defines self-care as, “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” Self-care is any activity that helps improve a person’s mental health. This activity is completely up to the individual, and can be anything, from running to reading. In order for the activity to constitute as an act of self-care, it only needs to positively impact your mental state.

“[Self care is] taking care of yourself and making sure… that you’re staying healthy and that you put yourself first sometimes because that’s really important,” sophomore Michelle Li said.

The mental health benefits of self-care are extensive. The whole purpose is to provide yourself with a mental break from your day-to-day stress. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, stress can cause headaches, low energy, gastrointestinal issues, and insomnia. In addition, chronic stress can lead to mental illness, and is an overall negative component of a person’s life.

Taking regular breaks from stressful situations is important. To reduce the chances that your stress will lead to mental illness, you should plan some breaks throughout the school or work day, so that you can practice meditation, read, or do something that takes your mind off of your troubles.

“I value self care,” senior Alyssa Kovacs said, “because just like you would care of yourself when your body is physically sick, you should take care of your body when you’re not feeling well mentally.”

The physical health benefits of self care are not quite as plentiful, but they do go beyond just reducing the physical symptoms of stress. While self-care doesn’t always directly affect any particular aspect of your body, you benefit from a phenomenon called the relaxation response. Mosby’s Medical Dictionary describes the relaxation response as a protective mechanism against stress that can cause decreased heart rate, lower metabolism, and decreased respiratory rate. This response can be triggered through activities like yoga and meditation.

Self-care can be positive for physical health in more ways than just initiating the relaxation response. For example, if you rarely do stretches for physical therapy, then taking some time out of your day to do those stretches will not only provide a mental break but also some positive physical benefits.

“I practice mindfulness which means to grow an awareness of how our body communicates. I have learned to recognize what anxiety feels like in my body or what anger feels like in my body,” said science teacher Mr. David Dougherty, who advises the “Finding Peace Within” club during Spartan period. “When I recognize the experience, I stop and simply notice my breathing and focus on breathing and relaxing. It is a wonderful practice.”

When life gets stressful, sometimes the things we should be doing, like laundry, gets pushed aside in favor of work. Taking the time to make sure that your personal affairs are in order is just as much an act of self-care as doing a facemask. For some people, doing some chores or taking care of one’s physical health is more relaxing and beneficial.

“I make sure to take a few breaks between studying, and read a book or something to ease my mind, so I don’t have to think so much about everything that I’m stressed about,” Li said. “I make sure that I have specific routines during the evening to make sure that I’m not stressed out.”

Many people are often skeptical of self-care because they view it as selfish. This raises the question of whether or not it is selfish to put yourself first in some situations. In my opinion, it is absolutely not selfish. Sometimes you need a break from the fast-paced world around you, and it’s okay to recognize that and act upon it. In fact, self-care can, in some ways, be seen as a selfless act; if you’re not putting 100 percent into all that you do, then you are doing those around you a disservice.

Self-care is wonderful for everyone’s mental and physical wellbeing. Taking a break and making the time to assess and manage your mental health helps ensure that you are able to put your best foot forward no matter what life brings.