Self-care is an aspect of daily life very much taken for granted by the great majority. They self-care on a daily basis and give little to no thought about the mechanics of such. However, for some people suffering with mental illness, self-care can be daunting and a real struggle, with much thought invested in planning and executing those daily tasks (e.g. taking a shower) which are easy to manage for other people. This leads them to develop self-neglect.
I’ve been researching mental health for ages, and it is still quite a mystery to me why some people end up unfortunately losing such ability to take care of themselves. One thing I’ve noticed is that it is related to motivation and volition; and it is an essential aspect of maintaining physical and mental well-being. It involves taking deliberate actions to nurture and care for oneself. Some self-care practices include physical exercise, taking showers/baths, cutting one’s finger and toe nails, tidying up one’s environment, healthy eating, quality sleep, relaxation techniques, hobbies and leisure activities, setting boundaries, and maintaining social connections
Self-neglect can be a serious concern, especially when it is associated with mental illness. It refers to a lack of self-care and disregard for one’s well-being. When someone is experiencing mental illness, it can be challenging to prioritise self-care. However, taking care of oneself is crucial for managing mental health conditions as lack of self-care can have negative consequences on both your physical and mental well-being. It often occurs when we neglect to prioritise our own needs and fail to engage in activities that promote self-nurturing. Here are some potential effects of self-neglect:
- Physical Health Issues: When you neglect self-care, your physical health can suffer. Lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and inadequate sleep can lead to various health problems, including weight gain, weakened immune system, cardiovascular issues, and chronic fatigue.
- Mental Health Challenges: Neglecting self-care can exacerbate existing mental health conditions or contribute to the development of new ones. It can increase stress levels, lead to burnout, and trigger symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Emotional Instability: Without proper self-care, emotional stability can be compromised. Neglecting self-care may lead to heightened irritability, mood swings, emotional exhaustion, and difficulty managing emotions.
- Impaired Decision-Making Abilities: Self-neglect can diminish cognitive functioning, making it harder to think clearly, concentrate, and make sound decisions. This can have a negative impact on various areas of life, including work, relationships, and personal goals.
- Decreased Productivity: When self-care is neglected, productivity levels tend to decline. Inadequate rest and relaxation can lead to decreased motivation, difficulty focusing, and diminished performance in daily tasks.
- Strained Relationships: Neglecting self-care may result in increased stress, irritability, and a decreased ability to effectively communicate and connect with others. This can strain relationships and lead to feelings of isolation.
It is crucial to prioritise self-care and make it a daily practice. By taking deliberate actions to care for yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally, you can improve your overall well-being and lead a more fulfilling life. Remember, self-care is not selfish; it is necessary for your health and happiness.