What is self-care? It’s a pretty broad term. Basically, self-care is taking time for yourself. Time to unplug, rejuvenate, relax, clear your mind, and care for your body. And it is so very important. When you have a mental illness it is often times physically and emotionally draining. It can make your body hurt, your mind feels scrambled, and your heart heavy. Especially with the day to day demands we all must meet; children, school, work, social lives, and family. It can make such a difference in your mental state if you learn to take time out for yourself. That is the thing about self-care though, you have to schedule it. It must be planned like any other activity and you stick to it.
No what exactly does self-care look like you ask? It can be different for everyone but I have listed several things that I personally do to help me when I need to unwind and have time to myself.
Turn it all off-cell phone, house phone (if you still have one of those), computers, video games, televisions, tablets-all of it. Turn it off, light a candle, and relax. Taking a break from social media can help your mental state immensely. I try and take at least one day a week with my husband where everything gets turned off, we eat dinner, talk, and play a game of cards or a board game. It has helped me so much.
Whether you are a female or a male, spa time can be an amazing way to relax. Do a face mask, take a hot shower or bath, paint your toenails, and deep condition your hair. This one is pretty self-explanatory so you get the point. If you want to take it up a notch go to a salon, or get a massage.
Meditation and Yoga
This one isn’t for everyone but meditation can be very beneficial to help you unwind and clear your mind. There are a ton of free guided meditation apps and videos on youtube that you can use as well. So take a deep breath, close your eyes, and go to your happy place.
This one probably seems weird. If you’re anything like me you hate exercising with a passion. However, exercising has been proven to help with mental health. When we exercise we release endorphins in our brains which make us feel happier. You can literally walk away from your sadness. And the number of exercise options is endless: go to the park and walk your dog, ride your bike, do yoga, do kickboxing, do martial arts, run, swimming. You get the point, exercise has more benefits than just weight management.
Cooking can be both very relaxing and very fun. It can also be a good time to reconnect with your spouse, a family member, or even a fun activity with your kids. You can try the food box delivery services like hello fresh, or you can make a new recipe from a favorite cookbook, or make something you’ve made a hundred times that you know and love. Working together in the kitchen to make a meal is also great for communication and makes a fun date night that doesn’t cost a lot of money. So pick a recipe and get chopping!
I’ve dedicated a whole post to gardening so I won’t go into too much detail here, but getting your hands dirty and growing something, especially something you can eat, is very rewarding and grounding. It will relax you in a way you didn’t think was possible by playing in the dirt.
Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, and read a book. Not an ebook, a real book, with real pages. Cuddle in a blanket, sit by a favourite window, light a candle or set a diffuser, and read. Reading takes us out of our own minds and into another world. We can forget our worries and read about far away or imaginary places, and people with their own sets of problems. Whatever your genre, pick up a book and start reading.
Art and Creativity
Whether you are an amazing artist or a terrible one, find a craft you can do. There are hundreds, if not thousands. Make a succulent garden, start a journal, create a decor piece for your home, refinish an old piece of furniture or something from the thrift store, knit or crochet, paint a picture, learn a new song, start playing an instrument, play with legos (yes legos!), learn to make jewellery.
Try a bunch of different crafts and hobbies until you find one you love. It doesn’t even matter if you are good at it, you aren’t doing it for everyone else you are doing it for yourself. I am not a very good artist but I love doodling and trying to watercolor. No one ever has to see what you do just explore the creative world and get out of your head for a bit of time.
These are just a few categories of self-care that I have touched on. There are hundreds of ways you can relax a bit and de-stress. You have to make time in your life to do so. It is more than just an idea, you must make it a priority. Whatever helps you, find the time to do it. Take a mental health day and be by yourself, go to a coffee shop or a bookstore. Lock your bedroom door or send the spouse and kids out of the house. You have more control over your mental state than you think but you have to put yourself first sometimes and that doesn’t make you selfish. It will ultimately make you a better parent, spouse, friend, and person. So go do it okay? No more excuses.