Don’t get me wrong, I will always be an advocate of treating yourself, rolling up in blankets like a burrito, and watching Disney movies if there’s a need for it.
But today, I want to talk about the other, less indulgent but just as necessary, side of self-care. Because it comes with so many facets and you kind of tend to take a blind eye to a few of them. But you’re only sabotaging yourself if you do that. However, I have a deep understanding for “I can’t do this right now”, so if that’s the case, just keep these in the back of your mind.
For me, self-care means…
… taking care of your basic foody needs.
This will probably sound very straightforward for some, but oh boy can it take a lot of energy. There are some days when I really have to think about what I’m doing, even if it’s just as simple as making lunch. I might be making a cheese sandwich, but my brain might as well be a walnut for all the good it does me. In fact, that sounds even better – I could just open up my skull and suck on my walnut brain. (I’m sorry for the visual. It’s one of those days.)
But yeah, 3 meals at the very least, with a bunch of water in between. I know I often can’t be arsed to do this, you know? Who cares what I eat, right? But you should care – and you should be aware of what you put in your body. I will be the first to admit that pizza is the best thing in the world, but unfortunately, there’s a time and place. (Otherwise we could just eat pizza all the time and be happy. Have you ever seen someone unhappily eating pizza? No, because they’re having pizza. You can’t be unhappy while eating pizza.)
Here are some healthy alternatives to greasy snacks: blueberries, yoghurt, fruit, dark chocolate, nuts, muesli bars, tea. There’s plenty for you out there if you have a look around. They’re not always what you’re craving (is that the alluring siren call of pizza I hear?), but you gotta look after your body. I have a recipe for banana bread, which is both healthy but still indulgent. Excellent comfort food.
… meeting basic hygiene needs.
Which is just so easy, right? It’s just a shower.
On the worst days, something as “simple” as a shower can drain all of your energy for the day. But it also has healing powers. There are plenty of awesome products you can use to pamper the crap out of yourself. Wash away any grumpiness and residue of panic attacks and come out feeling reborn. (Or at the very least, come out like you didn’t just crawl out of the ground.)
If you’re feeling adventurous, here’s what you’re gonna do: You’re gonna run a bath, okay? And while it’s running, you get out your favourite music, some scented candles to set the mood, and put on a facial mask. You’re gonna go all out, yeah? You’re gonna carpe the hell out of this diem. Don’t you dare tell me that you’re not worth the effort, because you bloody well are.
Throw some bubbles in there and relax in the oasis of peace you have created because you’re worth indulging over. You are now the queen of the bathroom, lounging around like Cleo-fucking-patra. (Okay, I stole that last bit from The Score, but I really like it.) Don’t forget to brush your teeth! I’m not a fan of mint personally, but it’s actually proven to be calming for both you and your abdomen. All peppermint tea fans, rejoice!
… other bodily needs.
So now that we’ve eaten well and are all relaxed and clean, there’s one more thing I need to discuss with you.
It’s the booty. Notice how I formulate it in a funny way, because talking about sex makes me wanna curl up into a ball and die. I don’t know why. But it’s not about me, it’s about you, and so I have to tell you that, yes, sex is in fact a basic need (for most people) and can work extremely well in getting you out of your funk.
So go get ’em, tiger.
*fistbumps the air*
*cringes into nothingness*
Then there is that dirty word called exercise. This is one that I struggle with myself because I can never settle on something that keeps me interested long enough, but I’m gonna keep trying. A healthy mind in a healthy body and all that jazz, right? These things connect. It can be hard to get motivated, but ultimately you’ll feel better about yourself, feel more comfortable, and find a hobby to get you out of the house and make a few friends, perhaps?
Might I suggest Yoga With Adriene for those allergic to the outdoors and new friends? It’s free, and Adriene is really casual and light-hearted. I love her. There is also this article for those struggling with exercise due to depression. It’s full of great tips.
Also, and this is my favourite, sleeeeeeep. Your body is a battery and if it can’t charge enough, you can’t expect it to function properly.
… making medical appointments.
Another important part of self-care is making medical appointments – and actually going to them. I know, the horror, but eventually you’ll only nail yourself if you don’t. For me, actually going to them makes me really anxious – I actually have to chant self-care, self-care, self-care to myself on really bad times – but it does make me feel better to get back the results.
So go see your therapist. Get yourself regularly checked out – even just a blood test can already reveal a lot. And if you have any physical ailments you’ve been ignoring? Go see a doctor. I know the circumstances aren’t always ideal – you don’t have time, you don’t have the money, your country has been hijacked by an evil Dorito who’s cancelling all healthcare – but it’s so important to take care of yourself.
… reaching out.
I know the first instinct for many of us is to crawl back into our safe cave and never come out again. The truth is, you can’t do this alone. Whatever it is you’re facing, you can’t do it alone, and thinking that you can is actually toxic.
Call people (or text because phone calls are icky). Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Whether it’s your family or your friends, people are generally quite open to helping you out if you finally choose to let them in. If people are jerks, it’s either pure ignorance or pure dickishness. I know it goes against your instincts – it certainly goes against my instincts when I could just as easily go back to step one and roll myself into a burrito blanket. But we gotta reach out and accept help.
If you’d rather not talk to someone you know, there are organisations like Mind and Samaritans that are ready to talk to you 24/7. It doesn’t matter if it’s not urgent and you just feel like talking to someone. They are there. Use them. (Google “mental health organisations” and add your country for more.) Jenny wrote a great post about her experience with Samaritans.
This one is great to find yourself again amidst all the chaos in your mind. It’s also a good way to make sense of that jumble of thoughts. Things like journalling, tracking your progress or triggers, and meditating are very beneficial. (Thank you Dina @ Dinasoaur for suggesting these. ♥) I personally keep a gratitude journal, in which I only jot down the good things that happened to me that day. It’s a good exercise for training yourself to filter through the negativity and find the positive things.
More ways to break your funk
- Put on some music that makes you go, “Oh yeah, this is my JAM!” followed by a dance session. Bonus points if you’re in pyjamas, but really any time you spent dancing is time well spent. My current jam is the entire album by DNCE. I know, I kinda wanna kick myself for liking Joe Jonas too, but IT’S SO GOOD. (Also, is it just me or do the lyrics feel like Joe Jonas is trying to compensate for all those years he spent wearing a purity ring? Hah.)
- Hugs are beautiful for the happiness hormone. Science.
- Pour your creativity into your art. If you don’t have any artsy hobbies yet, try to find your creative outlet. Just a handful of examples: painting, singing, drawing, designing, turning people into shoes, gardening, cooking, graffiti. (Please don’t turn people into shoes.)
- Distraction! Watch a movie or TV show you’ve been dying to see, or read a new book. Rewatching or rereading old favourites definitely helps, too.
- I am not affiliated with the BuddyBox, but it’s a self-care subscription box I’ve been trying out and it’s all kinds of beautiful. Their tagline is “a hug in a box” and you can also buy a Lite Box if you want to try it out for less money.
So this was just a gathering of thoughts I really needed to get off my chest. I hope this post finds you well. Please don’t feel bad if you can’t do these right now. Give yourself time. Some days are just about putting one foot in front of the other, and that’s okay.