Life is hard. Shocking, right? There are a million things to do and not enough time to do them. Between work, friends, and the general stresses of adulting, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. I’m definitely guilty of running myself into the ground. My physical, emotional, and mental health tend to be shoved aside so that I can focus on more “pressing” issues. After more meltdowns than I can count, I think I’ve finally learned the value of self-care. Here are some of my self-care pro tips:
1. Don’t let other people’s wants eclipse your needs
The iconic scene from Grey’s Anatomy where Cristina reminds Meredith to stand up for herself is the definition of self-care. Thinking about Meredith willingly giving up everything for the love of her life is infuriating but we all have moments where we put other people’s wants before our needs. Putting yourself first isn’t a bad thing. It shows that you care about your wellbeing and know what you deserve.
I recently read Treat Yourself How You Treat Others and thought it was phenomenal. Jess’ spin on the Golden Rule is my new mantra. We put so much effort into being good to others but forget to be good to ourselves. If we were as kind and encouraging to ourselves as we are to those around us, our lives would be so much better.
2. Take breaks from social media
Scrolling through social media is more draining than you realize. Although it can be a lot of fun, it’s also a massive waste of time and can be really detrimental. I had to learn this the hard way. I consider myself an accomplished Facebook stalker. I’m the friend that people come to when they want to find out anything about anyone. This might be why I don’t have time to do everything I need to…
Anyway, Facebook stalking is something I excel at but I recently learned how unhealthy it is. Not going to lie, I was in a bad place at the end of last year. A lot of people had let me down and I was having a hard time accepting my new normal. I knew that I needed to take a step back from everyone but I kept wondering what certain people were up to. I attempted to cut them out of my life but constantly checked their social media, which just made the situation worse. Even when I wasn’t actively checking their social media, they would show up on my timeline or a mutual friend would tag them in a post. Eventually, I had to accept that I needed a break. I imposed a 2-week social media detox, which was harder than I expected but so worth it. It forced me to stop obsessing and finally focus on my own healing.
Even if you don’t need a detox, unplugging is something to consider. Take some time to be on your own without being bombarded with (mostly useless) information and drama. Don’t use your phone for the first 15 minutes after you wake up and the last 30 minutes before you sleep. Unplugging gives you time to do more important things. I like to have my devotional, read a book, plan my day, catch up with my flatmates, or just enjoy my own company while I unplug.
Sleep is required for your body to function properly. Getting a good night’s sleep gives you time to recover from the day and get ready for the next one. It also reduces stress and improves your mood. Unfortunately, uni life and sleeping well seem incompatible 99% of the time. Sleep becomes more of a luxury than a necessity. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” has become one of my most used phrases. This is obviously not a healthy lifestyle. This semester, I’m making a conscious effort to get more sleep. I’ve had to remind myself that sleep is a study skill and without it, I’m basically useless.
4. Set boundaries
You can’t be everything for everybody. More importantly, you shouldn’t be everything for everybody. Everyone has limits and you need to figure out what yours are. Your time, energy, and emotional capital are priceless and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Establish boundaries so that you aren’t surrounded by people and activities that are more harmful than helpful.Remember that it’s okay to say no. You don’t need to come up with a justification for saying no. Not wanting to do something is a good enough reason.
I touched on my terrible habit of giving my all to people and my attempt to change in The Year of Reprioritizing. Establishing limits and sticking to them has been harder than I expected. There are days when I fall back into old patterns and have to remind myself of the boundaries that I’ve set. It’s a daily process but it’s definitely worth it.
I have a love/hate (more hate than love) relationship with exercising but even I’ll admit that it’s an important part of life. Playing tennis is my favorite way to de-stress and stay active, even though I haven’t picked up my racket in a while. I’ve been told that running is also good but I still believe that you only need to run if you’re being chased. If neither of these is appealing, find a different way to stay in shape and clear your mind. I highly recommend starting off the day with either yoga or Zumba.
6. Embrace your emotions
Keeping things in isn’t healthy or helpful. In order to deal with your emotions, you have to let yourself feel them. Write down what you’re feeling, figure out why you feel that way, and think of ways to either change or maintain that feeling. It might sound stupid but I promise that it works.