I don’t have a great track record with self-care. I’m the type who packs their schedule full and takes on more, until I end up a hot mess, literally and figuratively. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t even know about self-care strategies. I just went hard at life until I completely burned out and then sat in my house for days at a time binging Netflix under a blanket.
[bctt tweet=” I always thought that taking time for myself was lazy, but it is essential for my health. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
Eventually, the people who loved me staged a self-care intervention. They showed me how to take time for myself. They taught me that self-care wasn’t indulgent. I always thought that taking time for myself was lazy, but they told me that it was essential for my health. Even though I found it uncomfortable at first, I started practicing self-care on a regular basis.
In tough times, self-care is more essential than ever, and we are entering a super tough time. Maybe a lot of people have said you’re being dramatic, or this shouldn’t be so tough.
Let me take a minute to validate your feelings: you have every right to feel the way you do.
So! Here’s my go-to routine for feeling good even when everything feels bad:
1. Take care of your most basic human needs.
Sometimes, when we get overwhelmed we forget to eat and hydrate. This is especially true for those of us who suffer from mental illness. Our bodies and our minds cannot function when not properly fueled, so step one in self-care is making sure you eat and drink enough water.
[bctt tweet=”Sometimes, when we get overwhelmed we forget to eat and hydrate. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
Grab your friends, family, or partner and cook a meal together.
2. Read a fun book that you actually want to read.
Not a book for class. Not that super dense book of feminist theory you’ve been meaning to read. There’s time to educate yourself later. Pick up a fun book that will transport you to another world where things don’t suck so much.
It’s fine to escape for a little while.
3. Enjoy some non-sexual physical contact.
Go get a massage. Or have your partner give you a massage. Have someone run their hand over your back, touching your skin. Or cuddle up with your best friend or child or special person. Our culture is so awkward about non-sexual physical contact, but it’s important to have some non-sexual physical contact in our lives.
4. Take a long bath or a shower with scented Epsom salts or essential oils.
Whether you prefer baths or showers, the hot water will soothe your muscles and allow the tension to melt away. If you’re in the bath, try adding some lavender Epsom salts. The salts will help to further relax your muscles and the smell will calm your mind. If you’re in the shower, pour some lavender essential oil on the bottom of the shower.
The scent will absorb into the steam and clear out your respiratory system, as well as your mind.
5. Take a break from all your devices – all of them.
The length of the break is up to you. Sometimes, I leave my phone at home when I go out to run errands. Try not using your phone for an hour before bed each day. Or if you’re hardcore, try a 24-hour device free period. A mini cleanse. Being connected constantly has its advantages, but it also forces us to feel like we have to be ‘on’ all the time.
Turning off the devices mean we can take a break as well.
6. Get some sleep!
Pretty much none of us get enough sleep. Adults are supposed to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. I used to be satisfied with 5 or 6 hours each night, but that was before I started working outside with kids full time. Now, I respect my sleep time. I go to bed early enough to get 8 hours of sleep… most nights.
I’m not perfect, but I try to hit my quota each week.
7. Have a living room dance party.
Dance like no one’s watching, by yourself, with friends, with the animated dancers from ‘Just Dance 3’, whatever you want. Just shake that booty. Getting moving produces endorphins, which make you happier. Plus, you’ll be listening to some rocking music.
[bctt tweet=”Pretty much none of us get enough sleep.” username=”wearethetempest”]
8. Listen to your favorite song and sing along at the top of your lungs.
Music is connected to our experience of the world. Certain songs have connections with times in our life, or people, or feelings. Belting out your favorite tune will get the stress out of your body and connect you with the good times.
9. Head outside and enjoy nature.
There are so many beautiful places in this world. Go for a run through your favorite landscape or cityscape. Get out of the city and go for a hike. Climb a mountain and view the world from a completely different angle. Literally.
There’s nothing like the enormity of nature to change your perspective.
10. Have a day with the people you love most.
The actual plans for the day aren’t what’s important, the important thing is being around people that you know love and support you no matter what. When times are tough we tend to isolate, which is exactly the opposite of what we need.
Being surrounded by love reminds us we are worthy of love.
11. Snuggle with a furry friend.
Curl up on the couch or in bed with your cat or dog or bunny or whatever animal you love. Petting their soft fur will provide tactile comfort and their adoring gaze will remind you what unconditional love feels like.
If you don’t have your own furry friend, please don’t steal one. Go over a friend’s house and borrow theirs.
12. Create something – anything, really.
There’s a great sense of accomplishment in creating something new. It doesn’t matter what your medium is, painting, drawing, collaging, writing, composing, or writing, just take some time to create something new. It will help get your feelings out into your medium.
13. Do a full social media detox.
Facebook has been a toxic place lately. Go a day, a week, a month, without logging in to your social media. I did it last summer and it allowed me to be much more present in my life. And it saved my sanity.
If you feel like Facebook is making you more upset than any app should, go ahead and delete that shit! Or at least take it off your phone.
14. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
We live in an age of technological connections. It’s easy to forget what it’s like to have a real conversation. Connect with an old friend and tell them that you miss them. Call your grandma or aunt and see what’s going on in their lives.
Ask about them and don’t spend much time talking about you. Just savor the connection.
15. Say what you’re really thinking and feeling.
When we’re overwhelmed, it’s really hard to talk about our feelings, but bottling them up is unhealthy. Find someone you trust and spill your guts. Swear as much as you want. Cry if you need to. Try to put precise words on what you feel, rather than saying “I’m angry.” Getting it all out will allow it to dissipate.
Please, please take something from this list and try it. Take care of yourself and others. We all need the strength to fight the fight again.