A few months ago, I asked you all what you do for self-care. A lot of you responded with your self-care tips, so Holly and I wanted to share our own. It’s easy to look at someone’s life on social media and think that everything is peachy keen, because what we put out there is usually the highlights, carefully filtered and curated to our liking. I’m guilty of that. Most of us are. But I’ve also been pretty open about struggles, and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received throughout the years. One interesting thing I found? So many of you have candles as a part of your self-care routine. I’m happy to report that I added several to my collection, and you’re so right. It makes a difference!
What is self-care?
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.
Self-care needs to be something you actively plan, rather than something that just happens. It is an active choice and you must treat it as such. (via PsychCentral)
Holly: A few years ago, my therapist asked me “What do you do for self-care?” And I looked at her puzzled. I literally had no idea what she was talking about and had never even given it any thought. I’m not saying I had never practiced self-care up to that point, but I had never heard the term or consciously thought about incorporating it into my lifestyle. Now many years later, I’ve learned that prioritizing your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Self-care is personal, so today I’m sharing some of the things that help me deal with stress and anxiety.
- Putting my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’. I’m sure everyone can relate to feeling overwhelmed by text messages, notifications from social media/apps, and any other alerts from your phone. I have my phone automatically set to switch on Do Not Disturb (DND) every night from midnight to 7am, but I’ll also set it to DND when I’m feeling extra stressed. This allows me to mentally disengage from work, social media and any other distractions.
- Baking cakes. Baking has always been something I’ve enjoyed. Starting in college, I realized the attention to detail in baking helps me stop thinking about whatever is stressing me out and focus my attention elsewhere. Plus the result is delicious, so that’s always an added bonus!
- Mindfulness / Meditation. Meditation is really trendy right now, but for good reason. The same therapist suggested me to practice mindfulness, and I have to admit it’s not the easiest practice. But the more I practice, the easier it gets; and these days there are tons of apps out there to help. (If you’re looking to try meditation, I would recommend the app Headspace.)
- My skin care routine. Last year I finally started taking my skin care more seriously, and at first I thought it was such a hassle to have a multi-step day/night routine. However, once I started thinking of it as a time to focus on myself, it quickly became an essential part of my daily self-care and made the whole process much more enjoyable. It’s also nice to start and end your day with a small act of self-care, that way even on the busiest days I have a little bit of time to unwind and calm down.
- Spa treatments. I’m on a budget, so my “spa treatment” mostly consists of getting a mani/pedi at a local nail salon. I’m lucky that my local salon has a pretty upscale pedicure while still being super affordable. This is another small luxury that I can treat myself to once every few weeks.
- A trip to the farmer’s market. This was a weekly routine in the summers when I lived in Chicago that I want to incorporate back into my life this year. On Sundays, I used to get my morning coffee and donut, buy my groceries at the farmer’s market, then take a leisurely walk back home while calling a friend to catch up on their week. Once I would get home, I would take my time and make a delicious farmer’s market lunch.
- Deep cleaning my apartment. If you told my teenage self that deep cleaning my apartment would relax me, I would think you were crazy. But as an adult, a clean apartment means a clearer mind. I’ll turn on some music and clean everything until my stress goes away! Doing something productive and active, plus a sense of accomplishment makes this a very practical choice for self-care.
Keiko: Like Holly, I learned about the concept of self-care from my therapist. We all practice it (I hope) without realizing it, but being mindful about it can help me from getting into a rut. Self-care can look different for everyone — and on the surface, some of mine might seem a little superficial when put down on paper. But as someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, these little things help me cope in a healthier way. Self-care can clear the fog that surrounds me when I’m feeling down (or on the verge of it), and helps me maintain a sense of stability when life gets a little chaotic. My self-care:
- Always having something to look forward to. I suppose this is a little abstract, but it’s my biggest tip for staying happy. I always make sure I have something to look forward to, and I put it on my calendar. Whether it’s something big like a trip that I can count down toward, or little things like having breakfast with a friend or planning a trip to a flea market outside of the city, it gives me something to focus on. Like, “Yeah, today wasn’t so great, but I can’t wait to go to Brimfield and hunt for vintage treasures!” I always, always, always put little things on the calendar, and promise myself not to cancel.
- Literally laying on the floor and playing with Miku. Even if I’m busy working, I can’t resist when Miku wants attention. Taking ten minute breaks to play with her or just giving her belly scratches can instantly brighten my mood. When I moved to NYC almost 11 years ago, I was in a deep depression. The only thing that kept me functioning was Miku. Seriously, there’s a reason dogs are used for therapy. Just looking at her makes me happy, so playing or cuddling with her is the absolute best.
- Pampering: Also like Holly, I find that outward care can be therapeutic. That can be an at home mask, a fancy facial, a pedicure at the local salon, or the best one: a massage. I can’t remember the last time I had a massage, but there’s nothing better to me.
- Hot showers: My sanctuary. End of story.
- Finding a balance between alone time and quality time: I’m the type of person who needs alone time, and that’s okay. But it’s a slippery slope, because if I spend too much time alone, I get into a rut and basically become a hermit. This can go hand in hand with having something to look forward to, but a big part of self-care for me is knowing when to be alone and when to surround myself with people I love.
- Taking a step back from social media when I need a break. It might surprise people that I don’t spend all that much time on social media (seriously, I limit my time spent on any platform). As amazing as it can be, it can also be a little bit of a downer. On a good day, I’m inspired. On a bad day, that same inspiring photo of a beautiful girl in a knockout dress who is on an amazing trip — ugh, it makes me feel awful. Though I always say not to compare your life to someone’s filtered and edited highlights, sometimes that’s easier said than done. And sometimes I just have to take a break and get back to real life, and come back when I’m in a better mindset.
If you haven’t thought about self-care, I hope you found this post helpful. And if you already practice self-care, let me know in the comments what is part of your practice!