In the middle of it being Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to take some time to reflect on some self care that I have been doing. It might not look like the normal bubble baths and face masks that social media promotes. It’s the daily things that I do in my life to make sure that my life is something I am excited to experience every day.
Coming as far as I have in my mental health journey, self care for me has shifted along the way in so many ways. It’s as simple as making sure that I get a full 8 oz of water in my body before I have my first sip of coffee (this is something I have also done for over eight hundred days straight, crazy right?). But in addition to that, it is adding in routine therapy or forms of physical activity. It also includes talking to my friends who live out of state a lot because these are people that are still in my close circle and are part of my support system. it is making sure I do not skip my vitamins every day because I know that those things are important to my mental health.
And while all of those things are things that fulfill me and help me feel sane, there are a few things that I think are the biggest contributions to self care and take a while to learn and incorporate into our lives.
Saying no and not feeling bad about it: This is something that I had to learn and be okay with. As someone who wants to love and care for everyone, saying no was one of the hardest things I had to learn and allow myself to be okay with it. I always want to say yes to people, but I know that will cause burnout and it will eventually cause my mental health to deteriorate. It is important to say no and it is more important to stick by it.
Setting boundaries: To jump off of “saying no”, setting boundaries is also a big factor of self care. It is creating the space you need in whatever arena you are in. It means that you are taking control of a situation and you know what is healthy for you and what isn’t. This is commonly seen as something done with other people, and that is okay. If someone in your life is doing something that you do not like or that you are not comfortable with, then you have every right to set a boundary and uphold it. The other person may be upset by it, but that just means they no longer get to benefit from you in that way.
Allowing yourself to rest: This is something I am very guilty of and I am thankful that the pandemic forced me to do this and grow an appreciation for it. I am someone that is constantly going. I have a full schedule most days or a running to-do list that I am thinking about 24/7. I rarely take the time to be still and allow my mind, body, and soul to rest. This is something that is so crucial to our mental health. It is the time that we get to recharge and feel like ourselves again. We no longer need to run on 1% for the week. We get to use this time for ourselves and do whatever fulfills us, even if it is just sleeping and watching our favorite shows on Netflix.
Intentionality: I have been working on intentionality for a few years now. It started as a concept I applied towards spending money, (which helped a lot) and then I realized that I can apply this concept to other areas of my life. Intentionality is applicable wherever you want it to be. I wanted to be intentional with my time, whether that be with people or with myself. I wanted to use this time in a way that would benefit me, and if it didn’t, then I can walk away and move on to the next thing. I wanted to be intentional with the foods I put in my body because I wanted to make sure that it was not only good for me, but also delicious. Intentionality taught me to appreciate things a little more and be grateful for the things and people I had in my life. It reminded me that I chose to still be here for a reason and that I can create the rest of my future because of that one choice. I was intentionally choosing to keep living, because I knew that there was more ahead of me than that one dark moment.
These are just a few of the bigger lessons I learned over the last few years of incorporating and practicing self care. As mentioned, self care is not just about the bubble baths and eating a whole pizza while binging “Friends” (though it totally can be), it is about doing the things that no longer make you want to escape your life.
Self care looks different for everyone depending on the journey that everyone has with it, but remember it is so important to practice and incorporate into your every day life. Make it a priority because YOU are a priority.