Ahh self-care, the term that’s thrown around more than “I love you” when you’re a little too tipsy on a night out. I’m not the biggest fan of the term honestly; I think it’s overused and can undermine a lot of people’s struggles with their mental and physical health by not recognising the issues people deal with and how these issues can severely impact their ability to care for them selves the way their mind and body needs. Lets redefine it hey? It’s not lazy if you can’t manage to get out of bed, it’s not dumb to feel proud of yourself for going to the shops on your own even if you could only stay there for 5 minutes, it’s not weak to talk about what you’re going through with someone and it’s not wrong if you need to take medication to help yourself feel more capable of living your life. It is okay to not be okay and you deserve to take care of yourself.
Most people’s first though when hearing talk about self-care is “Oh yeah I had a bath last night and used one of those fancy bath bombs with rose petals in it” now don’t get me wrong that is a form of self-care but that’s not the be all and end all. Relaxing and having a bath is lovely and can definitely make you feel a lot calmer but when talking about self-care we can’t be afraid to talk about the real sh*t, sure it’s not as glamorous as a sparkling purple bath sipping on a glass of rosé while vanilla scented candles are burning, but that’s what self-care is, the non glamorous basic necessity of taking care of yourself.
Being completely blunt, self-care isn’t always easy. In fact for a lot of people taking care of themselves is the last thing on their mind. When someones world feels like its falling apart around them having a bubble bath is going to fix it, it might make them smell good but to them their world is still falling apart except now they’re sitting in a pile of bubbles watching it happen. Before we jump into some ways you can implement selfceare into your life we first need to know what exactly self care is.
What is self-care?
Let me start this off by saying that self-care is not the same as being selfish. Taking care of your mental, emotional and physical self is a basic necessity in order to be able to function. Being selfish is doing things purely to benefit yourself when you don’t really need to do them in the first place, like hogging the tv all night when you know your mum was really wanting to watch a show.
Sounds pretty simple right? well not so fast… self-care doesn’t just happen, you don’t just wake up every morning and automatically spring into self-care mode without a thought in the world. You need to actively make time and a plan to take care of yourself. This all might sound a bit daunting to some of you (including myself) but there’s no need to stress because self-care will in the end benefit you, not drain you even more.
Down to the nitty-gritty, how can we actually take care of ourselves?
As I said before self-care can be bloody hard and it’s not always pretty but it really is worth it in the long run. So I’ve put together a few things that may help you take better care of yourself. There are so many different things you can do, no matter how big or small they may be, if you’re working towards being a brighter you then it’s all beneficial, you just have to find what works best.
Remind yourself that what you’re feeling is completely valid
The feeling of invalidity can be really hard to deal with, it can make you feel trapped in your own head and really affect your mental health. It is so important to know that anything you’re going through that is causing you any range of emotions is valid and no one can take away your right to feel a certain way because they don’t deem it necessary.
Also don’t invalidate yourself by saying that what you’re going through isn’t as bad as what other people are going though. Sure its true there will always be someone worse off and there will always be someone who’s better off than you, but that does not determine the validity of your feelings and experiences.
Get out of bed & get some fresh air
Even though getting out of bed can seem impossible some days it’s really beneficial to walk around for a little bit. Even just getting up to grab a glass of water is better than laying there watching the hours go by. In regards to getting some fresh air there’s no rush to go on a full 3 hour trek, you can start by going into your back yard for a little bit to clear your head and from there you can work your way up.
Allow yourself to cry
I’m the queen of bottling everything up and turning it into anger, sure it stops me feeling “sad” but being angry isn’t any better. Learn from my mistakes and allow yourself to feel upset and let it out. Crying is not only completely normal it’s necessary for your mental wellbeing. So let’s have a good old cry, we can all be a sobbing bunch together.
Even though not many boys read my blog if you stumble upon this post I want you to know that it is not going to affect how masculine you are if you cry. You are allowed to express your emotions and no one should make you feel as though you shouldn’t simply because of your gender.
Talk to someone
It’s scary I know, telling someone what you’re struggling with can lead to feelings of guilt, regret and the dreaded “I’m a burden to this person” mindset that can be so easy to fall into. However a good way to look at it is a problem shared is a problem halved, a lot of the things we deal with can be a heavy weight to carry on our own and to be expected to handle this without the support of another person isn’t fair on yourself.
With saying all that telling people you know about your personal issues can be too much to handle on top of everything else so take that step when you feel comfortable. You do still need to speak to someone though as soon as possible, so if you’re able to go to a doctor, psychologist and/or therapist then that’s a good step to take. There are also some good online services that you can reach out to, to receive support such as:
- Kids helpline: an Australian service for people aged between 5-25. They offer web chat, email and phone counselling completely free of charge.
- Beyond blue: another service which offers web chat, email and phone support. They have a brilliant range of information on anxiety, depression and suicide prevention which can be really beneficial if you’re feeling like you’re lost and can’t work out why you’re feeling the way you are.
- I also found this website which has links to different services you can find in your country. While I haven’t had direct experience with a lot of the services it’s alway worth giving it a try. If one doesn’t work out please don’t give up on trying to get support as you shouldn’t have to go through what you’re dealing with alone.
Set goals you can work towards achieving
Having achievable goals is really beneficial. Instead of writing “Be Successful” at the top of your list write some goals you can work towards and achieve in a shorter period of time such as “read for 10 minutes each day” you can achieve this within a week and gain a feeling of accomplishment, rather than constantly beating yourself down for not feeling like you’re closer to your long-term goals. You should still have some long-term goals but don’t make them the be all and end all.
Eat some decent food and drink plenty of water
Self explanatory really, but if you’re not eating well and are dehydrated your physical health will deteriorate taking your mental health down with it. Just try your best to eat some food that’s good for you and have a bottle of water next to you, so you can ensure you’re well hydrated.
If you need to take medication that is okay
There’s a lot of stigma around prescribed medication for mental illnesses and honestly its complete bullsh*t. If you break your leg the doctors going to give you some medicine to help you deal with the pain and allow your body to heal so why can’t someone take medication to help them cope with them having a mental illness? It just baffles me the way some people react to the thought of someone needing medication and it can really affect those who do as they feel like they have to hide this about themselves in order to “fit in”.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of. If taking medication can help make it easier for you to live your life then you shouldn’t let the stigma stop you from receiving the help you need. Whether or not you take it is a personal choice and should be made with the information and guidance from a medical professional.
There we have it, my take on self care and how you can make this the year you put your own wellbeing first. I am quite nervous to post this as it’s probably the most “real” post I’ve ever written, in the sense of tackling larger issues rather than the usual what my favourite lipstick is. I’m going to hit publish anyway as if this can help even one person then it will be well worth it. I hope you’re all having a lovely and safe year so far and I can’t wait to keep writing up a storm on here for you lovely bunch.
I’m sending all the love my heart can hold your way.