Self-care and self-reflection go hand-in-hand. Before you can really address self-care needs, or even create a practice of wellness, you need to know you — including what nurtures you, what your vulnerabilities are, how to re-energise yourself when you feel overwhelmed or depleted, what supports your sense of wellbeing and what gets in the way of it. This information comes from time spent getting to know you. Self-care is what you do with what you know about yourself.
The idea that people living with a mental health issue can know what they need and what best supports them is an important philosophical shift and is at the foundation of building a recovery culture. It certainly contradicts old beliefs about the capacity of individuals to know themselves. Tuning in to your own self-knowledge rather than looking to others to tell you what you need could be a skill that is underused.
Activities that provide time for quiet reflection are also self-care strategies. These activities include writing a journal, yoga and meditation as well as knitting, sewing, chopping wood, walking through the woods or even window shopping. It’s really about any activity that allows you to tune out the hubbub of your external world and tune in to the landscape of your own thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, challenges, and the wonder of your own internal experience.
Being able to reflect and increase self-awareness is also vital in your relationships with peers and co-workers. It allows you to step back from what is happening in the relationship to make different decisions about how you want to respond. It is a way to thoughtfully, or mindfully engage with others.
Self-reflection — being aware of yourself and your own vulnerabilities
— will help you respond rather than react to situations or people that cause strong emotions in you. Without self-awareness, we are much more likely to react in knee-jerk ways that can damage relationships.