This is a guest post, written by Ruth from Ruth In Revolt; make sure you visit her blog here.
When you hear the phrase “self care” floating around, it’s easy to jump to the idea of bath bombs, manicures, or buying something new. These are all valid forms of self care, but they’re not the only way it can be done.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the premise of self care, it’s basically looking after yourself by doing things you enjoy. Some people practice it daily, others weekly. Self care tends to be linked with mental illness, but it’s not only crucial in recovery – it’s vital in prevention, too. It is essential you make time for it in your life somewhere, because not looking after ourselves usually only lands us in trouble.
Today, we’re going right back to basics, with some of the easiest ways you can practice self care.
Take the day off social media.
One day. No Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, anything. Personally, when I spend a lot of time on social media, my mind becomes very full. I seem to absorb everyone else’s troubles, and it puts a lot of weight on my shoulders. The best way for me to regain balance is to step away for a day.
For others, social media is a minefield of comparisons. They begin to question if they’re good enough, if they’re trying hard enough, or if their life is interesting enough. Nothing should make you feel that way. So, stop filling your lovely mind with it, and walk away for at least 24 hours.
I often go as far as to log out on all of my apps, then when I open them and see the prompt to log in, I’m reminded of the fact I’m supposed to be taking a break!
While we’re on this subject, I also recommend turning off notifications as a general rule. I did this around 6 months ago and it made me feel much calmer. As an introvert, the idea of being constantly connected isn’t useful for me. I need alone time. Turning off notifications meant I was no longer bombarded by things I felt pressured to respond to. I could go on with my day, blissfully unaware of who was liking what, and get to it whenever I wanted to.
Wake up naturally.
Turn off your alarms, and let your body get the rest it needs. We get so caught up in our busy lives, and often sacrifice sleep to fit it all in. It’s not healthy. Once in a while, it’s good to listen to your body and give it what it needs.
I do this once a month, and I’m sometimes shocked at the length of time I spend asleep. Recently, I clocked up 11 hours of slumber. I did feel much better for it, though, and that’s the point of self care.
So, arrange a time when you can climb into bed, snooze, and wake up whenever your body decides it’s recharged.
Have a bath or shower.
No fancy smellies required (unless you want them).Have a bath or shower as you usually would but take time to appreciate it. If you have a bath, let your whole body relax and tension drift away. Close your eyes, take deep breaths and focus on the water around your body.
If you opt for a shower, enjoy the sensation of the water running along your skin. When you wash your hair, gently massage your scalp. Imagine all of your worries whirling away down the drain.
It’s just a normal activity, but a lot of us don’t take the time to acknowledge how nice it can be. We hop in then out and get on with our lives. The act of concentrating on these details allows it to be more pleasurable.
Go for a walk.
It doesn’t have to be far. Just enough to stretch your legs and get some fresh air in your lungs.
The good thing about this one is it can usually be done at work, or a day off. Nip out for a change of scenery during your lunch break, or pop to the shop at the weekend. Either way, it will help, at least a little bit.
With anxiety, this can be particularly challenging. So, be gentle with yourself. Go as far as you feel comfortable to. You want this to be a positive experience – not one where you pushed yourself too hard and became overwhelmed. If it feels beyond your ability right now, but you have a garden, go and stand out there for a couple of minutes. Take in the sights, smells and sounds in a safe space.
Have a cup of tea (or whatever drink you prefer).
This is one of my personal favourites. If I’m having a tough day, I’ll make myself a cup of tea and just sit quietly. I won’t do anything else at the same time. If the idea of sitting in silence with only your thoughts for company is a bit daunting, then play some music in the background.
Essentially, the idea is to press pause. That’s what I associate cups of tea with. Stepping out of my hectic mind and taking time to be still.
You don’t have to rush out and buy a new book. Though, if you want to, I do also consider going in book shops an act of self care. They’re just such nice places to be. The stillness, smell, the peace and quiet…
Anyway, I digress.
Pick up a book, new or old, and read a minimum of one chapter. Read more if you have time. I usually pick one of my favourites, so I know it will be something I like. I appreciate the fact it takes my attention away from the negative noise in my head.
Reading is a perfect example of doing something for yourself. You can immerse yourself in a different world and focus on the words in front of you. It’s a form of escape, and we all need that sometimes!
Look at some of your favourite things.
I like to search for piglets in Google.There are some things in life which just make me happy when I see them. It’s an involuntary response. You know, those things that make you feel like a kid at Christmas.
Identify your things. This, in itself, is a nice activity – coming up with a list of things which make you happy. Once you have your list, seek out those things. If it’s your family, look at pictures of them. If it’s dogs, head to Google or YouTube and have a blast. The internet gets a lot of bad press but having adorable animal videos at our fingertips has got to earn it some brownie points.
Wear your favourite clothes.
Whether you like to dress up to feel good, or dress down to feel relaxed, stick on your favourite outfit.
I have a jumper which is super soft on the inside, and a vibrant yellow on the outside. I love it. Popping it on is a little way of saying to myself “I’m looking after you today.” It’s a good way of setting the tone for the day.
I hope these examples have helped you realise that self care isn’t about spending money, it’s about spending time on yourself. It’s about making space in your life for activities which make you feel good, to balance out all of the stuff which perhaps isn’t so great.
The key to self care is realising you deserve to do things that make you happy. You can define those things, and they can be anything you want. The clue is in the word “self” – it’s all about you! You are special, and you deserve to feel happiness as much as anyone else. Make sure you make some time to do exactly that!