In a world where mental health is finally being recognised and talked about, taking self-care days has become something that has worked it’s way up the trending topics as of late.
For some people this is as easy as breathing and doesn’t require much effort, but for others it can be a little confusing. You may find yourself asking what self-care actually means? And how do you know you’re doing something that will benefit you? Sometimes the things we choose to do can actually be detrimental to our mental wellbeing because we’re using unhealthy coping mechanisms instead of facing our issues head on. What we don’t want to be doing is digging ourselves a bigger hole to climb out of further down the line – that’s not what self-care is all about.
So what is self care, and how do I know it’s going to have a positive impact?
Self-care means scheduling some time out of your busy day/week to do one of two things; Either relax, or catch up on important tasks that may have been put aside or forgotten. These tasks can be as simple as returning family calls, putting on a load of washing, or doing your weekly food shop. They can also include some slightly more daunting tasks such as booking an appointment with your doctor, optician, or dentist. Or perhaps applying for a new job? The point of self-care is to utilise the allocated time to ensure that you’ve done things that will positively enrich your future. It’s up to you to decide which tasks are important or not, and how you choose to spend your self-care time is entirely up to you. The crucial thing to remember is that whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s going to leave you feeling better off in the long-run. How you spend your time may be influenced by the level of stresses* incurred, the amount of tasks you’ve neglected throughout the week, and of course – general mood.
*pro tip: stress doesn’t always arise from negative events, stress can also be induced by positive life experiences such as moving home, a wedding, or an upcoming party.
If you decide to use your time to relax, then a great idea would be to set an alarm before throwing all your devices on airplane mode so they can charge while you unwind. Ideally you want to be feeling rejuvenated after spending some time on yourself, so if you decide to catch up on some sleep try not to go over the recommended 20mins to avoid grogginess.
By now you may have decided to start allocating time for some regular self-care, but you’re looking around and wondering where on earth you’re going to start. I’ve selected some of my personal favourite self-care tips to help get you started:
My Top 5 Ideas To Help Kickstart Your Self-Care Routine:
- De-cluttering your physical space as-well as your headspace can be hugely influential to your disposition. Surrounding yourself with simplicity can make such a difference to your overall mood, so when you’re next having a clean up try to consider the things you choose to keep around you and decide whether or not they bring you joy. Throw away or donate things you no longer have a use for, and feel yourself become lighter as your belongings become more organised. Aim for one big tidy-up at least once a month, and spend once a week maintaining it. I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel a thousand times better after spending some quality time organising yourself, and having a tidy environment will better help you to relax on your days off.
White flowers are one of my favourite things to enjoy, and I feel they can brighten up any room and help you to relax. Once your personal space is in order, treat yourself to your favourite flowers to help bring some life to your home.
- Creating playlists filled with your favourite songs may sound cliche, but it works. You can even categorise them by genre. I’ve recently been listening to ‘Classical Relaxation : Piano’ on Apple Music which is essentially just classical pieces with the sound of ocean waves in the background. I also have a gym playlist that is obviously a lot more upbeat. The best thing about having organised playlists is that when the mood hits all you need to do is press play. Idea: Spend 30mins compiling a list of your favourite motivational songs to accompany you on your next self-care session!
Think about how you want to feel when creating your playlists rather than how you’re currently feeling. If you’re a bit down in the dumps then your song choices will reflect that and you’ll be reminded of that feeling when you come back to your list. Select songs that uplift and inspire you, and your positive outlook will only ever be a few tracks away.
- Investing in some quality self-care books is tricky because it’s mostly trial and error depending on what your personal preferences are, but I can’t recommend ‘The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F**k’ by Sarah Knight enough. It’s honest, true, and utterly hilarious. If profanities aren’t your bag though I’d steer well clear, there’s some seriously colourful language in this book. Reading can be incredibly therapeutic and it’s always refreshing to learn something new which is why I’ve mentioned self-care books in particular.
When low moods are becoming a struggle fiction novels can help you escape reality. Sometimes this can be helpful, but other times it can leave you longing for the characters in the pages instead of longing for the comfort and company of those in real life. Try to choose books that will offer some distraction but not take you too far away from the real world. The key to self-care is to learn how to stay grounded, and present.
- Start making lists. Begin with simple, easy to complete tasks that you can cross off quickly and you’ll be hooked in no time. You’ll be so eager to please yourself that you’ll be adding on all sorts of chores! Feeling accomplished is incredible, and you don’t have to do anything major to make yourself proud. List-making is an underrated form of self-management and can help ease the anxieties of everyday stress-triggers like making phone-calls. If one of your self-care tasks is to book an appointment, create a list and bullet-point the things you think you might need to say, and cross them off as you go along. This tactic has helped me out so much in the past, and I still use it now.
Why not try using good old-fashioned pen and paper for your lists? Your phone is great, but there’s something rather ceremonious about physically checking a box.
- Return the important calls – and by important calls, I mean family calls. This is critical to your self-improvement and self-care, but I’ve kept this until last because it’s essential to be able to feel confident enough.
It can feel like the most terrifying thing in the world to make contact with people you’ve been avoiding due to poor mental health. You feel as though they’ll never understand, or worse – that they’ll judge you for being distant. You’ll feel so relieved as soon as you hear their voice on the other end of the phone, so practise your self-care, take a deep breath, and get back in touch with the people you love. They’ve missed you so much.
Self-care is so important. We’re living in a fast-paced world, expectations of us are higher than ever, and the pressure is almost always on. Taking time to yourself is a luxury, but it’s one you can afford if you want to. It doesn’t take much, and it doesn’t even have to cost anything – doing something as simple as taking a bath or spending 10mins with your headphones in can make drastic changes to your general outlook on life. It’s about putting your needs first and remembering at the end of it all that you’re human – before and above anything else. Give yourself the time you deserve to recharge and refuel. Allow yourself to take a step back so that you don’t forget who you are. And last but not least, encourage your friends and family to do the very same thing.
Thank you for reading,