How to Create an ICU for Mind and Body

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The importance of healing is often overlooked in modern society, yet some of the most effective strategies are simply achieved and inexpensive or free. Best of all, they work. In fact, they may seem, at first glance, to be so easy they couldn’t possibly help. During grief, after trauma, or for general well-being, these practices can help you create your own intensive care unit for your mind and body.

  1. Recognize the need for time apart from your normal routine. Investing time in yourself is important for everyday wellness and for giving yourself a chance to heal from specific emotional or physical wounds. Rare is the person who truly never worries or who does not encounter difficulties in this world, yet sometimes self-care is seen as weakness or selfishness. Nothing could be further from the truth.
  2. Dictate your schedule rather than letting your commitments control you and your time. Your work and social life will continue, but you can achieve a healthy balance by making sure you have enough time for rest and play. Prioritize the people and causes that are most important to you before you add other things to your calendar.
  3. Accept that this is a lifestyle change if these concepts are new to you. Be patient with yourself. Some benefits might be revealed sooner than others. Long-term, you may experience greater joy and satisfaction with your life, even if your current problems are not resolved. Everyone has challenges, but how you handle them matters.
  4. If you are trying to heal after a traumatic event or if your workplace/homelife is stressful, consider getting professional help. Start with a full medical checkup. From there, you can deal with physical symptoms and move toward dealing with emotional and/or mental health issues. 
  5. If you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself why you are doing things differently now. Set aside time in each day, if possible, or as often as you can to relax, think, plan, and strategize. 
  6. Use coping tools like breathing exercises and journaling to deal with anxiety and to calm yourself. Write down what activities are most effective for you. Each of us is an individual. It may be exercise that clears your mind, quiet time, or a combination of both. 
  7. Find support through groups, organizations, or friends. Don’t forget about your spiritual needs. Reach out to those who will respect you and what you are going through. 
  8. Work through problems one at a time. Often issues tangle to affect several areas (work, friendships, personal decisions). Approaching one main problem at a time can help you “comb out” these tangles and make your days more manageable. 
  9. Be your own friend, not your worst critic. It’s easier to see what we think we’ve done wrong in a situation and to judge ourselves harshly for it. Keep in mind that no one is perfect. The things you notice most may be things no one else notices. Don’t try to be perfect. Forgive yourself and others.
  10. Stick with it. It’s normal to have good days and bad. Focus on the good. Find something for which to be grateful. Count your blessings. Notice small things that went right or that just made you feel better. Blue sky, kindness from a stranger. It all makes a difference.

These are the basics. As you work your way through this list, you may think of other things that can help. If you are grieving, it is especially important to be kind to yourself and to nourish your body with healthy foods and plenty of water. Staying hydrated allows the body, especially the brain, to function better. Grief and stress can cause confusion, memory loss, and brain fog. 

Just as you would not expect to heal from broken bones quickly, don’t take on too much before you’re ready. If other people do not understand what you are doing, that’s okay. You can explain or, if they are not receptive, continue what helps you whether they approve or not.

Be gentle with yourself. Resolve the problems you can. Let others go. Healing does not mean you can so back to the life you had before. In the case of losing a loved one, for example, you will always miss that person. That hurts. But you can find acceptance and peace, too. You can get to that place where sorrow and joy live side by side. Life can feel better.

Only you can decide what you need and when you need it. By believing it is possible to deal with life’s heartaches, you can not only survive the pain you are experiencing now but also thrive in a life that allows you to find productive ways to move forward. Start now.

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APA Reference
McDaniel, J. (2020). How to Create an ICU for Mind and Body. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 19, 2020, from

Scientifically Reviewed

Last updated: 19 Aug 2020 (Originally: 19 Aug 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 19 Aug 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.