Welcome back to Self Care Sundays! This series runs every single Sunday, and each week we share new ways to infuse a little extra self care into your life. Whether you’re a student, busy mum or full-time entrepreneur, there’s sure to be something for you. You can have a read through all of our live instalments here. Happy Sunday!
Self-care has really blown up on social media over the last year or two. Every couple of tweets right now on my feed is self-care related, Instagram hashtags have gone wild and there are articles popping up seemingly left right and centre about the latest apps and products. It also feels like there’s a lot floating around about what you should and shouldn’t be doing, or what self-care is vs what it isn’t.
I first learned about self-care when I was 17 and seeing my first counsellor. “What do you do that’s for you?” she asked. And the answer was mostly sneaking bottles of Sidekick into our dorm rooms at college and binge-watching The OC instead of going to lectures – a great pattern to be in, I’m sure we all agree. This is where the concept of doing things that make you feel good first came about for me, except back then I really wasn’t great at it.
I’m almost 26 now and I’ve learned a lot in those last 9 years – particularly in the last 2 where I seem to really have grown up a lot. So here’s what self-care is to me:
Self-care for me is knowing when and how I need to interrupt my own patterns. When I was going through college and university and struggling a lot with my mental health, my patterns went something like this: wake up, lie in bed until mid-afternoon binge watching Youtube or some show, drag myself out of bed and binge eat because I was starving, feel full and gross and sad, maybe get drunk, maybe get back in bed and ignore the impending doom that was failing my degree. And then I would wonder why I was anxious and depressed.
On the days where the clouds parted and for once I didn’t feel awful. I’d get up and do all of the things I’d been avoiding – going out with friends until the small hours and seeing everyone I had been avoided, and then the hangover from it all would be enough to put me back in the same spiral again for another few weeks.
Interrupting those patterns has been the biggest healing tool I’ve found – and learning how to do with it efficiently has been better still – and that is what self-care is to me.
Over the last year or two I’ve been focusing on creating new patterns – ones that make me get out of bed and do something productive in the morning like journalling or stretching or making my bed, feeding myself actual food rather than living solely on nachos an garlic bread, surrounding myself with things that make me happy rather than living in my own filth. It’s not always perfect – I still have my rough patches – but overall learning to practice self-care by interrupting my own patterns has meant that the rough patches are fewer and farther in between and I’m much more able to “mind over matter” my own shit when it comes up.
My morning routines are more like this now: get up, try and make the bed (this one needs more work), drink some water, meditate, journal, stretch. More recently I’m toying with EFT which is a whole other blog post, but all of these are things that make me feel more productive, awake, and ready to face the day as opposed to feeling like I’m glued to my bed and unable to face everything. Of course, the pull to lie in for an extra hour still happens more mornings, but I’m also learning to see when that is because I actually need more sleep vs when I just want to stay in bed and get stuck there for a whole day.
Self-care, for me, is feeling empowered to make better decisions for myself. It’s setting boundaries and goals for myself, not letting myself do things that I know are going to leave me feeling awful. Sometimes that looks like salt baths and face masks and soft pillows and candles, and other times it looks like dragging myself to exercise because no matter how much I feel like coughing up a lung in the process, I know I feel infinitely better afterward. Sometimes it’s blocking people who have been nothing but a drain in my life and other times it’s blocking Piers Morgan because he’s Piers Morgan. Sometimes, it’s dry shampooing my hair and febreezing the bedding because a rough patch has hit and I don’t have the energy for the most basic shit. But it’s also knowing how to stop letting myself wallow and knowing what I need to do to stop getting in my own way. Often, it’s saying no, and more often still, it’s saying yes because I know that I can’t always trust that I’m saying no for the right reasons. It’s learning to handle my finances and learning to invest in what makes me feel good in the long run, not in the immediate future. It’s processing the stuff from the past that makes me feel bad and learning to stop projecting it into my present. It’s eating McDonald’s fries in my car with a friend and oiling my hair and staying on my yoga mat for 2 hours because I know it’s better to work through the crap than stay in it forever.
Self-care is what you make it. It’s finding a happy medium between basic survival and learning to thrive. It’s making better decisions for yourself, and managing your shit. It’s getting by sometimes, and growing others. It’s what you need it to be. Let’s stop judging others for what they make it for themselves!