In a previous blog, I discussed how I felt that a simple way to combat the mental strains of feeling anxious, down, etc. can be lessened through self-care. Again, let me reiterate I am not an expert in mental health simply a person in grief and as a result, has faced struggles with depression and anxiety.
Throughout my life, I’ve sought out the affirmation of others, which has consequently not been good for my confidence and self-esteem. Throughout this combination of life-long behaviors with more recent tragedies, I’ve noticed myself more down and out than ever before.
So my journey to make self-care a priority was necessary. As the days went along I learned vital lessons about self-care that can help you be more successful in being better to yourself.
1.) It’s hard to prioritize.
I tend to be a workaholic and really give all of myself to my work. This means that I tend to eliminate any extra hobbies and worse, any side hustles or passions that invigorate me. The tough thing about self-care is making it a priority and giving the time to actually care for yourself. There is never enough time in the day, so time spent caring for yourself could be seen as neglecting other areas of your life. Except, the greatest priority in life is ourselves. We really do only have one life, so why not live it as happy and as comfortable as possible?
2.) It’s simple.
Self-care may be seen as a routine that is hard to prioritize and therefore difficult to maintain. However, when I made the month of May an experiment in doing one small act of self-care a day, I saw just how simple it is. Things ranged from massages and reflexology to watching Impractical Jokers, journaling and reading a good book. In this infancy stage of self-care, I’ve learned that simply doing what makes you feel good is the best place to start in being better to yourself.
3.) It’s what you make it.
My month of self-care started off strong. For the first two weeks straight there was something I did every single day to care for myself. There were also important things I actively chose not to do – like bring my work computer home. It forced me to focus on myself and not devote my free time to work, which is already allotted eight hours of my day. It allowed me the chance to ask myself what I wanted to do with my “extra” time. Since I gave myself the time for self-care I was able to practice it. As a result, I found myself much more stress-free, happier and overall more in tune with myself.
4.) It’s empowering.
Practicing daily self-care was motivational. I saw I had the power to care for myself and control my own happiness. When you get into a funk, or when stress seems to be overwhelming you, it can be a struggle to feel that you have the control to change things. If you just give yourself the time and the opportunities to better yourself, the end result is feeling not only better but a more empowered version of yourself.
5.) It takes many forms.
There are many forms of self-care that range from physical to spiritual, and mental to emotional. They can be things that engage your senses in the present moment or go-to activities that make you feel amazing. There was a period when I was slacking on being more aware and active with self-care. During this time I decided to clean my room, assemble new bedroom furniture and donate clothes and other items I was no longer using. Throughout the process, I felt good. I felt accomplished. My physical space was clean and organized and I felt so, too. I was surprised that cleaning was a form of self-care, but then I realized that self-care takes on many forms, some that we may not expect.
6.) It has no rules.
Want to feel good by eating a better diet? Great self-care! Want the ice cream sundae to treat yourself and indulge for dessert? Great self-care! These may seem contradictory (and they are) but there are no rules when it comes to self-care. It’s all about being better to yourself and doing what makes you feel good. Have the doughnut, dammit! Go for a run or binge-watch Netflix. If it makes you feel good, do it! There are no rules to self-care and there shouldn’t be, after all, each day brings its own stresses and as a result, self-care needs to adapt.
Feel free to start your own self-care practice. Read about the 9 Great Ways to Care For Yourself that I found were the best for good self-care practice.
Read Beyond Awareness to know the catalyst behind my self-care practice and to move beyond awareness of mental health issues.