February has become know as the month of love. There’s no love more important than loving yourself. I appreciate our generation for many things, our awareness of mental health and recognizing it as a key part of our physical well-being is nothing short of amazing. In a world full of over-stimulation and media pressures, how do we protect ourselves? There are so many resources but when you are really going through a tough time it becomes easy to forget where to go. I’m going to share some self-care tips that have helped me and are also backed by science and psychology.
There was a moment in my life where I just could not catch a break. A friend I loved like a brother was murdered, my relationship was falling apart, I had no communication with my birth mother. In short, my life was a mess. One of my very dear friends called me out, I was barely holding it together and she knew it. This friend reminded me of the importance of taking care of myself and I needed to love myself again.
I was useless to my students, to my co-workers and more importantly to myself in this state. This forced me on a journey to figure out, how in the world do I take care of me? I had to figure out what that really even meant. A Google or Pinterest search turned up an enormous amount of information. Dare I say, too much information.
I know I have some issues with procrastination and following through on what I “should” do. So I started with therapy. My friend knew I needed, I knew I needed but I got stuck on the “I should call”, “I should be researching people,” and got stuck. However, I needed to reframe this thinking. It’s not I should, it’s I want to be healthy and I want to see a good therapist.
Once I acknowledged this is what I wanted, I found the motivation to do was needed. Talking to someone and getting a fresh perspective helped immensely. My therapist was not afraid to get real with me, and I needed that. She also reminded me to be kind to myself.
Positive thinking has been proven successful. Saying just one nice thing about yourself, everyday will change the way you see yourself and others. Being open to the good in yourself will help you see the good in others. Write yourself a sticky note to remind you how freaking awesome you are and place it where you know you will see it. Each day add a new sticky note (don’t take the previous one down) and see all the wonderful things about YOU.
Don’t just be kind to you, be kind to others. Even doing something small, like letting the little old lady go ahead of you in line or leaving a kind note on coworker’s desk will improve your mood as much as those around you. A smile is just as contagious as an attitude. So I had to make the conscious choice to spread joy (no pun intended) instead.
I’ve never been one to keep up with a journal. I did when I was young but as I got older and life became hectic, journaling was no longer a priority. However a gratitude journal takes less time than an entire entry about my day and is just as impactful. You can even do it on your phone! Remembering all the things you have to be grateful for, has been proven to increase happiness. Some days suck and those are the times we need to remember all of the good things we do have.
There are small things that have a significant impact on our day to day lives. Every article I have come across says the dreaded “E” word. Exercise. I’m going to be honest, I do not like going to the gym. I don’t like to sweat. So I decided to start easy, since I love dance I was doing a hip-hop class once a week. That has slowly (and I mean slowly) moved to working out with a buddy.
Reframing was the key for me, I want to be in shape. It was no longer “ugh I need to go to the gym” it was “I want to feel good”. This has been a particular struggle for me but I’m working it on it! Progress can be slow and steady.
With working out came eating better. My partner is a good cook thank goodness so eating at home is not so much a challenge, but remember how we eat affects how we feel. A greasy burger taste delicious but clogged arteries not delicious. Healthy food is no longer terrible, dry salad. It can actually be tasty and affordable. Trust me, eat better, feel better. I gave up coffee for tea and it saved me some much time rubbing my belly as I wondered about my life choices. Listen to your body, it knows what you need.
Treat Yo’ Self
Hear me when I say Take A Break! You are doing yourself a huge disservice being stressed and overworked. It’s okay to stop, you need to stop sometimes. Otherwise, what is the point of all the hard work? I love a good weekend when I do nothing. Just stay in my PJ’s binge watch Netflix or go thrift shopping. I do what I want to not what I need to do. My next me day is going to be a spa day. Take a timeout to do what makes you happy.
Focus on the here and now. Thinking about all the things you need to do will not make you do them any faster and will likely just stress you out. We all could use a little practice just enjoying this moment right now. I like to meditate. I’m not terribly consistent (another work in progress) but when I do I always feel pretty good when I’m done.
One thing I am good at, sleeping. I love naps so much. Our bodies need rest and by going nonstop out bodies are not happy. When your body isn’t happy, nobodies happy (pun so intended)! Get some rest. Go to sleep on time and get that full 8 hour of zzz’s, you’ll be thanking yourself on the morning commute.
Honestly it has been a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for me. Learning about yourself should be an ongoing process anyway, right? As I expand and change, my process of self care changes with me. Some days I just need a hot shower and loud music to reset while other times I need the whole weekend.
Sometimes it feels like we have too much going on or we just need to power through it. However, the best thing we can do for ourselves and those around us is to know when to say when. Being stressed and irritable is no fun for anyone. It is never selfish to do the right thing by you.
Take care of you and love yourself too! Or as one of my besties likes to say “You do you boo boo!” (Insert cute cheek kiss here)