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Cognitive Self-Care: Improving Your Mental Wellbeing in 2021 

Following our 8 Dimensions of Self-Care model, we’re kicking off January with Cognitive Wellness.

What is Cognitive Self-Care?

Cognitive self-care is how we use our skills and expand our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us.

When we’re practicing cognitive self-care, we’re constantly learning and challenging ourselves in order to cultivate mental growth.  When we challenge ourselves to learn a new skill, we are exercising our brains, leading to improved concentration, better recall, and stronger critical thinking skills.

Activities that cultivate mental growth include reading, doing challenging puzzles, listening to podcasts, learning a new language or musical instrument, trying a new hobby, or teaching and tutoring others.

Cognitive self-care also involves paying attention to how we think about ourselves and others.  This involves understanding our own thought processes, and why they may lead us to certain judgments in the first place.  Personal reflection is key here – a good critical thinker is unafraid to dissect their own thought processes before arriving at a conclusion.

One way to practice this element of cognitive self-care is to debate an issue with a person of opposing viewpoints.  Notice how your thoughts evolve throughout the conversation; take note of your reactions.  Did you walk away with a new understanding?

Another example of how to practice cognitive self-care is to take action on something you’ve been avoiding.  Reflect on why you’ve been avoiding it and be honest with yourself – what’s holding you back? Sometimes all it takes is tweaking our perspective to turn that task into something that we want to do, because it ultimately benefits us.  Thus, we’ve improved our cognitive ability to overcome obstacles.

Each of these aspects of cognitive self-care is crucial to our mental health and total wellbeing.  Our brains are very complex organs that need attention and development in order for us to be at our best.

For more ideas on how to practice cognitive self-care on a day to day basis, visit our Self-Care Planner.