Have you ever had one of those days where no matter how hard you’re trying to manage everything, life just feels a bit overwhelming? It happens to the best of us, and it can feel like a real downer to suddenly lose all energy and momentum when you’re working so hard to accomplish your goals. Sometimes we all just need to take a day to recharge.
Self care is one of those things that, for whatever reason, often gets overlooked (especially when our lives are busy and hectic) but it’s an essential part of being happy, healthy, and successful. Let’s jump on the really-lame-analogy train for a second and compare it to the gas in your car: without that fuel, you’re not going anywhere. Sometimes we neglect our self care because we feel like we’re too busy, or that we should be devoting all of our time and attention to things outside of us (work, family, friends). Sometimes the idea of taking a few hours to ourselves to sip wine in the bath tub sounds at best, unproductive, and at worst, just plain selfish. But guess what: it isn’t.
Knowing when to take a step back and focus on yourself can make all the difference between going strong and crashing and burning— you know that feeling when you have deadlines and obligations, but you’re so mentally fried that meeting them seems next to impossible? That’s a sign that you need some self care, ASAP. It’s not selfish to make your own mental health and well-being a priority. (Now say it again louder for the people in the back.)
The great thing about self care is that it doesn’t have to be elaborate, time-consuming, or expensive (which basically cuts out any excuse you could dig up for not doing it.) Self care doesn’t mean taking a lavish two week vacation to the beach to get away from your life (although wouldn’t that be great)— usually it’s as simple as taking a few minutes to relax, refresh, and refocus.
5 Simple Self Care Ideas
1. Take care of yourself physically.
This one’s pretty self explanatory: the better you feel physically, the easier it will be to make it through the day. Taking the time to care for yourself involves getting the right amount of sleep, staying hydrated, eating when you need to, etc. Sometimes when you’re having an off day, a cup of your favorite coffee or tea followed by a hot shower can make a world of difference in how you feel. Power naps are also a quick and easy way to boost your mood (although these can be tricky, because I know that usually when that twenty minutes is up I just want to roll over and go back to sleep!)
The most important thing to remember here, and something that has personally taken me forever to figure out, is that self sabotage is not the same thing as self care. When I’m having an especially shitty day, sometimes all I want to do is drown my stress in excessive amounts of Taco Bell and Red Bull— this is not self care. Just because something feels good doesn’t mean it’s good for you, and I think I’m mostly trying to talk to myself with this one. Too often I fall into the trap of self-medicating with things that feel good in the moment (fifteen hours of sleep, eating an entire pizza, spending my bank account dry) but are actually terrible ideas in the long run. This is not self care. Drink some water, eat a granola bar, go for a walk, soak in the bath— do something for yourself that not only boosts your mood in the moment, but that you’ll also feel good about later.
2. Take care of yourself mentally.
This is my favorite form of self care. Read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a documentary, take a class. Learn something new just for the hell of it, or brush up your skills on a subject you love. Challenge yourself to try something new, learn to cook or cross-stitch or code websites or whatever else makes you feel engaged, passionate, and curious. There’s nothing quite like that energized, invigorating feel of spending a few hours falling down the rabbit hole of research and learning more about the stuff you love (but I’m also a mega nerd who still reads my old college textbooks for fun, so..)
3. Take care of yourself emotionally.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Frustrated? Emotionally exhausted? Do whatever you need to do to unwind and recharge yourself. Write it out, vent to your friends, have some quiet alone time, spend time snuggling with your pets (my cats were always the best for this!) Whatever will soothe and re-energize you is the key, here. Personally, my favorite way to de-stress is to curl up in my softest (and also ugliest) pajamas, light my favorite candle or turn on my oil diffuser, and take a few minutes to sit in total silence and just breathe. The older I get, the more I’ve begun to appreciate the rarity of complete silence and stillness, and I cherish every moment of it that I can find in my day.
4. Unplug from the digital world for a bit.
This can be hard, believe me I know. Every time I hear a notification on my phone I immediately want to check it, and sometimes that leads to an hour or more of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Reddit posts. Having an endless source of distraction and entertainment literally in the palm of our hands can be fun, convenient, and totally mind-numbing. Ever looked up from browsing social media or news articles on your phone to see that an hour or more has slipped away without you noticing? It happens to the best of us, and it’s more or less become the norm, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be connected all day, every day. Take a deep breath, gather your courage, and put your phone on silent— I’m not even going to tell you to turn it all the way off, start with baby steps. If you’re crazy like I am, you might feel a bit of separation anxiety at the thought of missing texts or calls or Twitter notifications, but it’s going to be okay. Get lost in that new book you’ve been meaning to start, work on a craft or DIY project, or if you really want to be ambitious you could even go outside for a while (you glorious rebel, you.)
5. Take some time to figure out your mindset and mental state.
If you’re feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed, the cause might be obvious (exams coming up, big deadline at work, relationship drama, etc.) but it still never hurts to do a bit of self-reflecting and dig into the triggers and causes that maybe aren’t so obvious. Even better, is there a way to recognize when you’re starting to feel overloaded and take a moment to redirect your energy to prevent that burn out? I’ve found that it’s helpful for me to know my own stress triggers and have a mental list of self care “band-aids” that I can turn to when I need them. Taking the time for small acts of self care now can prevent your stress and anxiety from spiraling out of control later (speaking from experience, here.) Focus on your mindset, and find a few simple ways that you can get back to being your best.
6. BONUS: Download your free Self Care Checklist to keep these ideas handy.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. How do you make time for yourself? Share your favorite self care ideas below in the comments (and you can also follow Hugs + Hexes on Twitter and Facebook for more #selfcaresunday posts!)