If you’ve got no clue what ‘self-care’ is, join the club. I didn’t really know what it meant until the past year. It became a bit of a cliché phrase that was thrown around a lot on Instagram. I used to brush it off because I didn’t realise how important it was, or that it didn’t have to involve going running or getting a massage, neither of which I can afford/have the effort to do. Its common to get so wrapped up in things like work, relationships and academic life that you neglect the person who matters the most: you.
What is self-care?
As a quick summary, self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself. There are so many definitions of self-care that all say the same thing, and it is on such a massive spectrum. For instance, my idea of self-care could involve going on a massive walk or baking, but to other people, self-care could be literally doing nothing. What works for you isn’t necessarily going to work for anyone else. Therefore, you need to do what you can guarantee will make you happy rather than what someone else is telling you will make you happy.
Why is it important?
It is important because it means that you’re able to have a healthier and more positive relationship with yourself, which can lead to so many other positive things. For example: you may have better self-esteem, improved relationships with people etc. You also need to ‘recharge your batteries’, which will ease stress and ensure that you are better able to focus.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling guilty when you’re not actively practicing ‘self-care’, but at the same time doing anything whatsoever (including sometimes not doing anything) to make yourself feel good/better is self-care, that is how broad it is!
It’s also a good time to mention that for people suffering with very poor mental health or mental illness, any self-care at all is in itself a massive achievement. Do not feel under pressure to do anything outside of the bare minimum, if that. Try to eat and drink, sleep, and take medication. Maybe try and shower at some point if you feel up to it.
Listed below are some different things that I do to take care of myself:
- I work best when I have some kind of routine to stick to. I try to get up and go to bed at the same time. Before bed, I always shower and do my skincare routine. These little things just bring back some normality to the end of my day, and that means that I’m able to get to sleep better.
- Every morning I walk to Uni. Granted, I do go to the gym a few times a week too, but doing the littlest bit of walking is what makes me feel good.
- Turn my phone off. Social media at times can be so toxic, it is important to get away from it from time to time to have a break.
- In a similar vein, I often do a social media cleanse. I’ll delete/unfollow any accounts that don’t make me feel good. It is so easy sometimes to look at someone’s posts and start to feel really sad or unfulfilled. The more positive accounts you follow, the more positive you’ll start to feel. Some of my favourites at the minute are bodyposipanda and bodypositivememes.
- Try to complete small tasks. Everyone has those small jobs to do that gradually pile up. Even shaving a few off the top will makes me feel accomplished and less guilty about being unproductive.
- I try to maintain a good social life. Living in a student house does mean that I’m constantly around people, which I’m so thankful for. Make sure that you’re having conversations with people and not isolating yourself continuously. While it is nice to be by yourself for a day or so, if you’re a person who thrives off social interaction then make sure that you are engaging with people through whatever means.
As mentioned earlier, self-care is all about finding out what works for you. You don’t have to treat any of these ideas as a necessity or something you absolutely have to do. If a complex routine is your idea of heaven then crack on, but if you find it overwhelming or too difficult to follow, then not stressing yourself out is also a form of self-care.
Photo taken using Nikon D3200 with 18-55mm lens.