Nobody talks about how ugly taking care of yourself can be. Yes, sometimes it’s taking a warm baths, sometimes it’s sending memes to friends, sometimes it’s keeping an aesthetically pretty journal. And sometimes it’s crying silently on your couch at 3am, hugging yourself and trying to reminding yourself that you are good enough. Self-care isn’t always fancy face masks and bath bombs. Self-care is not always cute…and that’s totally okay. Self-care is actually fairly hard at times. Self-care includes a lot of adult-ing, and activities you most likely will try to put off. Self-care sometimes means making tough decisions which you fear others will judge. For example, cancelling plans. Self-care also involves asking for help; it involves being painfully honest with the ones you care about, yourself about what you need. Also after some days of feeling your mental state decline its difficult to bring yourself to do something that takes care of yourself.
If you have to cancel plans in order to take care of yourself, then you do you. If you think getting out and continuing with your plans is taking care of yourself, then you do you. Everyone is different and I think sometimes we forget that. We have to keep in mind and be understanding when friends, family members need time for themselves. You may be one to keep busy and go on adventures to relax and de stress, however your best friend might be one to stay in and have a Netflix kind of day. Everyone is different, that’s how the world goes round. No everyone has the same mind and heart as we do and I think that’s important to keep in mind.
How do you take care of yourself?
When most people ask us if we take care of ourselves, most of us would say yes without hesitation. You figure you do take care of yourself because today you got dressed, went to school, showered, ate, you might have slept or at least tried to. But that isn’t what self-care is about. And if we look closely the majority of us aren’t taking very good care of ourselves.
Self-care seems like a simple concept but in reality it is very difficult and overlooked. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental health, emotional well-being, and physical health.
Self-care is the key a balanced life which improves mood and reduces anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others. Self-care isn’t something we dislike doing or have to force ourselves. In a way we might struggle with getting into a habit that involved taking care of ourselves, but it shouldn’t be anything we really dislike doing. It is supposed to refuel us mentally, not drain us.
So when someone does ask “what do you do to take care of yourself?” that can be a tricky question… how do I take care of myself? Even though self-care means different things to different people, there’s a basic checklist that can be followed by all of us. Here are some examples to help get you thinking how you can take care of yourself.
-start by creating a “no list”. It is definitely easier to start off by listing things that you know you don’t enjoy or dislike. (i.e. Not checking emails at night, not doing homework past a certain time, not attending gatherings you don’t like, not answering your phone during lunch/dinner, not talking on the phone past a certain time, etc.)
– Have a nutritious, healthy diet. A good diet is just as important to mental health as it is physical health. I know this can be super difficult while attending university but experts have conducted studies and noticed there is a link between diet quality and common mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
– Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night and practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is super important! Having bad sleep hygiene may be contributing to the tiredness you experience. Good sleep hygiene includes limiting naps during the day to 30 minutes, avoid caffeine/nicotine close to bed time, exercising to promote good quality sleep, avoid eating close to bedtime, ensure adequate lighting during the day and little lighting at night, establish a bed relaxing time routine, try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, and make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable, dark, quiet and cool temperature. Bright light from lights, cell phones and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep. So turn those light off or adjust them when possible. Most smart phones now have a “Night shift” brightness setting you can adjust. If the sleeping environment isn’t up to par you can try using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, white noise machines, apps with relaxation audio, diffusers, fans, etc.
– Exercise. Increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy.
-Use relaxation exercises and/or practice meditation. You can do these exercises at any time of the day. Some have found that putting lavender a diffuser before bed helps calm them. Lavender is a natural relaxer and it smells wonderful.
-Spend enough time with your loved ones. Depending on the relationship with your family, spending time with your loved ones may contribute to your mental well-being.
-Do at least one relaxing activity every day, whether it’s taking a walk or spending 30 minutes unwinding.
-Do at least one pleasurable activity every day. Maybe you want to go to the movies, try a new recipe, or meeting with friends. Even if it’s watching one episode of your favourite TV show do one thing that makes you happy.
-Find hobbies that interest you. Even if it’s once a month you can fit in with your schedule do it. Having a hobby is a nice distraction and will contribute to an increased mood.