When people think of self care, they tend to think of things that are marketed as being “self care”, such as bath bombs, face masks, pillows, makeup, etc. And while those can certainly be part of self care, all self care really is is just that: Taking care of yourself.
This may sound obvious, but in our busy everyday lives, from school and work to chores and obligations, we often forget to take a minute and pause. We forget to take care of ourselves, and we can end up tired, stressed, depressed, sad, or even angry.
I know that I often need to remind myself to stop, take a breather, and do whatever I need to do to make sure that I’m happy. Or at least content, if happiness isn’t an option. And when I do take that pause, and practice some self care, I feel a lot perkier afterwards. I feel lighter. But the first step is that reminder, especially right now.
Self care is extremely important, especially during this COVID19 pandemic, when everything is so uncertain and stressful. Many people are feeling stressed, angry, scared, sad, anxious, depressed, tired, or unmotivated, and I don’t blame them! Being stuck in quarantine isn’t easy for anyone, at least not all the time. And all the stories about COVID aren’t helping anyone.
I would like to give some examples of self care, both physical and mental. Because both are equally important, and you can’t practice physical self care without practicing mental self care, and vice versa. And sometimes the two types of self care go hand in hand, which is nice.
Some ways to practice physical self care:
-Take a walk! Even if it’s just to the mailbox and back, taking a walk gets your body moving, and it can feel great. And you never know - a short walk might turn into a long one! Taking walks as often as you can is a great form of self care. And if you want to turn your walk into an adventure, you can bring the dog, or a camera, or a sibling, and have a lot of fun.
-Take a break from screens. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. It will give your eyes a rest, and it can help prevent headaches and tiredness. I find that putting down my phone or my laptop makes me feel more energized, and much more alert. It’s easy to spend hours on a screen, and doing so every now and then, or when you’re sick, isn’t a bad thing, but try to not make a habit out of it.
-Treat yourself! Whether this is a hot bath, a face mask, a piece of candy, or a ton of Netflix now and again, it’s good to treat yourself to nice things that make you feel happy. Sometimes, when I’m done with all my chores, I like to curl up and watch a ton of Netflix. I don’t do that very often, so when I do it’s a nice treat. And you can treat yourself as often as you need to, it doesn’t have to be every now and then. You should do nice things for yourself on a almost-daily (or even daily) basis, of possible.
-Exercise, if that’s your thing. Even if it’s a short walk, or a single push up, or some martial arts drills, exercise is a great way to get your body moving, stay healthy, and push your limits. Of course, if exercising isn’t your thing, there should be absolutely no pressure to exercise daily, or to do workouts, or anything like that.
-Get fresh air. Step outside for a few minutes. Open your window for a couple of hours. Take a walk or plant in the garden. Fresh air can make you feel so, so much better. I find that fresh air can make me feel perkier, help my headaches, and just make me feel happier all-around. And being outside just does something to a person, in a very good way.
-Get plenty of rest! Keeping a regular sleep schedule is extremely beneficial. Going to bed at around the same time every night, and waking up at around the same time every morning, is a good way to make sure you feel rested and just better overall.
-Spend some alone time. If you’re an introvert, or an ambivert, or even an extrovert, alone time can help you de-stress, relax, and rejuvenate. It’s okay to say “I need some alone time now” or “I can’t talk now”. Alone time is valid, and healthy, and a great way to take care of yourself.
Some ways to practice mental self care:
-Take breaks from social media! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are full of stressful, sometimes untrue news stories and images, and they can make you tired, stressed, anxious, etc. So take a break every now and then. If you feel like you’re starting to be affected negatively by what you see online, out down your device and go do something else. Minimizing your exposure to social media is a big part of mental self care.
-Set boundaries. Being around/talking to people a lot can make anyone feel stressed or tired! Don’t be afraid to set boundaries such as “I can’t talk on Tuesdays”, “I’m busy now, maybe later” or even “I don’t feel like talking right now.” Not only is it a form of self care, but it’s perfectly okay, and if your friends or family has a problem with you setting boundaries then too bad. It’s okay to take your space.
-Talk about your emotions. If you feel stressed, depressed, sad, anxious, angry, etc., talking to someone usually helps. Even if it’s not a parent or family member. When I feel stressed, or anxious, I usually talk to a friend or two, and it really helps. Just getting those feelings off of your chest, and hearing someone else’s take on what’s going on, can really help, even if you don’t think it will. Not to mention that bottling up emotions isn’t healthy, and doing so can make you more stressed, anxious, etc.
-Get some fresh air. Take a walk, sit on the porch, go for a bike ride. Or just step outside for a minute. Fresh air is a huge part of mental self care. Being outside can clear your head, and that can hep so, so much. I know this from personal experience. Not to mention that being outside can be fun!
-Listen to your mind! Is the thing you’re reading making you feel anxious? Is talking about a certain topic making you feel stressed? Are you feeling sad? Listen to those feelings, and respect them. If possible, remove yourself from the situation that’s causing you to feel off, or ask to change the topic/channel/whatever it is that’s affecting you.
There are so many more ways to practice self care, and not all of them - or the ways listed above - will work for every person, since every person is different.
But the main one, the one that applies to everyone, is: Listen. Listen to your body. Listen to your mind. Pay attention to what they’re saying, and don’t ignore it. Feeling tired? Take a nap, or step outside. Have a headache? Drink some water or eat a healthy snack. Feeling anxious about something you’re reading? Put your book down. Those basic things are huge factors in self care, and people often ignore them, which is sad because they’re extremely important.
Just be mindful, be aware, be gentle with yourself, and do the best that you can to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.