Let’s talk about some self-care. TBH, things haven’t been going great for me for a couple weeks. But, life happens and at this point I know what I need as a person to keep myself grounded and moving forward. I thought finishing the semester would kind of turn my anxiety off (lol) but boy was I wrong. The end of the school year is kind of weird. You go from taking regular classes all semester with a set schedule, to two weeks of high stress and a random schedule for finals, then it all just ends. There’s no fade out set to music, it all just abruptly stops. For some reason, this semester ending hit me harder than in the past. I’ve felt super anxious about missing things because I feel like there has to be somewhere I need to be. I also notice my anxiety a lot more when I don’t have a busy schedule to distract me.
I actually had my first panic attack in a long time last week. I kind of forgot how terrible they are because it had been so long. After I settled down I realized that it was actually pretty amazing that I went that long without a panic attack and it was kind of an “ah-ha” moment about the fact that I must have been taking pretty damn good care of myself.
If you follow me on Instagram then you know that bath bombs are my kryptonite. Taking a hot bath with a dope bath bomb is one of my favorite forms of self-care. I used to take myself to the breaking point and then kind of scream in my head “I NEED TO TAKE A HOT BATH TO FIX EVERYTHING”. Then I would get in the bath all tense and not even be able to enjoy it because I was so freaking anxious, stressed, and out of control that I would just sit there and internally continue to scream but tell myself I was practicing self-care.
I don’t really remember when I came to this realization, but I guess all that matters is that I did. I realized that true self-care wasn’t waiting until I was losing my mind and sitting in a bath tub. It needed to be a daily effort. I can be really hard on myself and it was kind of hard for me to allow myself to practice self-care every day. I decided that I needed it and, most importantly, I was worth it.
Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or lavish. Did I allow myself to have a crazy stupid spa day for over 5 hours at the new Omi hotel in Louisville this week? 100%, I did. But that’s definitely not a routine occurrence or staple in my self-care routine. It’s the small things and just remembering to set aside the time for yourself. Here’s a list of some of my favorite ways to practice self-care and remind myself that I am worth the time required to truly take care of myself.
Have a routine, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t follow it to a tee all the time. I’ve said so many times, I don’t have a skin care routine that I follow. Lately, I’ve been making an effort to set aside 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night to go through a whole skin care routine. I have an issue with control and having a set routine of some sort that I create allows me to have control over at least one thing in my life. Instead of rushing and just kind of wiping my face off with a makeup wipe, I take the time to do my full routine. Do I still come home from bars and sleep with a full face of makeup on sometimes? For sure and that’s ok.
Find something that inspires you and hold onto it really tight. Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things has truly changed my life. That sounds so cliché and dramatic, but it really has. It’s a compilation of anonymous questions and answers from the Dear Sugar advice column. Even the stories and questions you don’t think apply to you, they all do somehow. Strayed is able to answer with advice that can pertain to pretty much anyone. I listened to it on Audible and I couldn’t stop. I really feel like I needed this book. Her book Brave Enough is a compilation of quotations from Tiny Beautiful Things and Wild and serves as a daily dose of inspiration to me. Pretty much every day I open the book to a random page and read whatever it has to tell me. I’ve read the whole thing multiple times but there’s something comforting in opening to a random page and having the quotation perfectly describe or relate to something you went through that day. Kind of like how its more exciting to hear your favorite song on the radio than it is to play it on your phone. It’s the idea that some force somewhere, depending on what you believe in, wanted you to see or hear what you needed to see or hear.
Have a support system you can lean on, but don’t be dead weight. Once you find people you trust, it’s easy to put your problems on them. I think its super important to own your problems, stress, anxieties, or whatever it may be. You need a support system who will listen and offer advice, but you can’t expect them to fix things for I struggle with this a lot at times. When I get overwhelmed, I text all my closest friends and tell them to “just tell me what to do”. I’m lucky enough to have friends who know that wouldn’t be conducive to my success. You’re in charge of your own decisions, mistakes, failures, and successes. There’s infinite power in that single fact.
Do what works for you and don’t force something that doesn’t. I hate journaling. Like really hate it. I can remember so many times that I’ve made myself feel guilty about hating journaling, which is so stupid. Journaling works for a lot of people, but I’m not one of them and that’s fine. Going for a run doesn’t give me endorphins, it just gives me pain. Also fine. I’m an analytical person who likes to write things out and really see my options, tasks, or whatever else may be overwhelming me. I’m talking pros and cons lists, Venn Diagrams, lists upon lists. Then I analyze what I’ve given myself, and usually lose the piece of paper or notebook I wrote it in once I feel like I’ve gained control. As I said, running just doesn’t do it for me like it does for some people. But I’ll go to CycleBar and get more into my feelings than Drake. Like, I cry every single class because I just let it all out. I asked to switch bikes the other day from the very front to the back row and told the woman “I like to cry, so I need to be hidden for everyone’s best interest”. As long as you’re keeping yourself happy and taken care of without negatively effecting or impairing someone else’s life, do you and don’t feel bad about it.
Going to therapy doesn’t make you weak. I’ll preface this by saying that I know therapy or counseling is expensive and most insurance providers suck when it comes to helping you out because mental health < physical health. But if you are financially capable, I would make it a priority. If you’re a student, ask what counseling services your school has to offer. All three universities I have attended have had different options ranging from completely free and unlimited visits to almost impossible to get help. When I first started going to therapy in 9th grade I was embarrassed to talk about it to anyone. In my mind, going to therapy meant that I had issues too big that I couldn’t handle them on my own. Because of who I am as a person, admitting that I have a problem that I can’t fix on my own is the ultimate form of embarrassment. Now I go to counseling once a week and tell anyone who will listen. You don’t need to be dealing with major life issues to go to therapy. I go in there and just talk about whatever I want to talk about. You have a person wanting to sit there for an hour to listen to you talk about essentially anything without passing any judgement. What more could you really ask for? I feel so light every time I leave even if what I talk about doesn’t seem to be “that big of a deal”. Adding a therapist to your support system can make a huge difference as they’re unbiased while still being an advocate for you. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it. There are also so many apps now that allow you to do online therapy sessions, so your busy schedule isn’t an excuse anymore.
Be an advocate for yourself. I spent a long time taking medicine that made me feel so much worse. I took Prozac, Celexa, and some others in the past. All of them made me feel more depressed and just terrible. I just kept telling myself “this is what was given to me, just take them”. Please don’t do that. There are a ridiculous number of medications on the market, not all of them will make you feel worse. Turns out, I kept being given meds for major depression and that wasn’t the real issue. My current psychiatric nurse practitioner is amazing and told me that there isn’t one med that’ll control my anxiety and stabilize my mood. So instead of just throwing a drug for depression at me, she found a combination of meds that work well together. The same goes for therapists. Therapists are people like everyone else, and you’re not going to get along with everyone. Sometimes you just don’t mesh well with a therapist or psychiatrist, whoever you decide to work with. You don’t have to stay with him. This may sound obvious, but it’s very easy to blame yourself in these situations and just stay for convenience. “it’s my fault these meds aren’t working.”, “it’s my fault my relationship with my therapist isn’t good”. That’s not true. Some things just don’t work for some people because everyone is different. Do not be afraid to be involved in your own care. This isn’t just for medical professionals. Don’t allow toxic people or relationships to dictate your life either. If you need something that a relationship is compromising, be it a romantic relationship, friendship, familial, anything, advocate for yourself. If your needs are still not being met after advocating, get out of the situation when possible. You deserve to be happy and no other human should take that from you. Ever.
I could go on and on about this topic because it means so much to me, but I’ve already written almost 2,000 words and probably lost a lot of you along the way. Self-care all boils down to doing what you need to do for yourself. There’s no one way to make it work and will most likely be a combination of a whole bunch of practices. Have those luxurious days once in a while when you have the time and money to afford them, but make the time to love yourself every single day. Even on your worst days, you are so worth it.