Self-Care is More Than a Face Mask

Don’t get me wrong, ladies. A good face mask really does have the ability to change lives; but you can’t just slap on your favorite oil-reducing remedy, throw on your favorite podcast, light a candle, and ignore all of the responsibilities and stressors in your life while calling it self-care. (Although, if that is something you want to do, I support you fully, and here are my favorite suggestions for all of the above: Anthropologie’s Pumpkin Clove Candle, the podcast Schnitt Talk, and Freeman’s Feeling Beautiful Avocado and Oatmeal Clay Mask. You’re welcome in advance.)

 

The hard truth is this: self-care is much harder and much more complicated than a few minutes of nice smells and skincare. It’s so much more than Pinterest’s cute lists of “100 Self-Care Ideas” that mostly consist of things the average 20-something doesn’t have time to do.

 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for self-care. It’s something each person must discover for themselves on what actually works and what will help heal. But you deserve to understand your own thoughts and needs to take care of the most important thing: you. And during this mental health awareness week here in 2019, let’s take the time to talk about some things you can do to truly take care of yourself (and not just your skincare).

Sometimes, when life gets hectic, it’s easy to forget about ourselves, especially if you are someone who often puts others’ needs ahead of your own (shout out to my Enneagram 2’s). At least every day, try to check in with yourself and assess if your basic needs have been covered. These can include things like:

  • Have you eaten a meal today?
  • Have you eaten healthy foods that will help fuel your body recently?
  • Have you drunk anything other than coffee?
  • Have you been getting enough sleep?
  • Have you had a meaningful connection with friends recently?
  • Have you taken a shower in the past couple of days?

Asking yourself these questions might feel strange, but self-reflection is critical. If we don’t check in with ourselves and see how we are actually doing, we won't be able to identify how to best take care of ourselves. These check-ins are also a quick, easy way to make sure we are taking care of ourselves throughout the day.

When basic needs are assessed and we make sure that we are taken care of at the most basic level, we can really begin to explore ways to further our self-care and self-love. Something that I like to do during self-reflection is to really understand where my emotions are coming from. It is often easy to just feel something really strongly and act off of that emotion, but our emotions don’t always reflect the truth. Our emotions have roots to them, and they are there to help us understand more about what is going on in our brains. It’s easy to forget, especially when you are having extremely intense emotions, that our emotions are a reflection of our beliefs. Our beliefs determine the types of things we think, which in turn determine our emotions, and our emotions lead us to perform behaviors.

 

Next time you are experiencing strong emotions, try to trace them back. Asking yourself simple questions like: “Why am I angry?,” “What thoughts am I having that might not be true that are affecting this anger?,” and “What do I believe about this situation or person that is making me feel this way?” is a really helpful tactic to recognize the facts in situations vs. feelings. Understanding where uncomfortable emotions come from will not only help you better understand yourself but will help you feel more in control of yourself and your mental health.

Often, when we have lots of emotions and feelings, we can get buried in the weight of those, especially if those thoughts and feelings are negative toward ourselves. I personally struggle with negative self-thought a lot in my own life. To push those thoughts back, I started doing something really helpful (and also really dumb feeling): mantras.

 

Let me start by saying: I hate mantras. I think they are embarrassing and (honestly) kind of weird; who wants to be the person that talks to themselves in the mirror about a quote they saw on Instagram?

 

I will tell you this: from my experience, the key to mantras isn’t finding the perfect quote, or the peppiest, prettiest picture to print off and stick to your mirror. It’s about having those words mean something. I tried the mantra trend over the summer, much to my dismay. Over a phone call with my best friend, she forced me to look in the mirror and say, “I am __________.” As dumb as I felt, it made me laugh when I had forgotten how, so I decided to give it another chance. Every morning (when I wasn’t sleepwalking through brushing my teeth), I would say to myself: 

You are brave.

You are strong.

You are worthy.

You are beautiful.

You are enough.

 

Those things were things I had never felt. At the beginning of trying this, they were things I would laugh at the thought of describing myself by. Some days, I didn’t believe them at all and just felt silly for trying. But did those five statements pop up on days I felt like I couldn’t keep going?

 

They did. And so did I.

If mantras totally aren’t your thing (first of all: don’t blame you!), try to find another way to incorporate positivity toward yourself in your life. This can look like adding positive things, such as time to do things only for yourself (and by yourself) that you enjoy or meeting up with a group of loving friends. It can also be eliminating negative things in your life.

 

For me, body image and self-esteem are constant struggles. This summer, along with my mantras, I took the plunge and deleted all of my social media.

That’s right, I did the unimaginable: 3 months without any knowledge of where my friends were, what they were doing, and what I was missing out on. It was hard, in the beginning. Really hard. The FOMO was constantly on my mind. But after a while, I forgot about it and was able to focus the energy I normally use to compare myself to every bikini-clad friend on Instagram and every trip on Snapchat to dive in to who I was, what my values were, and who I wanted to become. It was a process of learning to let go of what every picture suggests I should be and look like to just be simply how I am.

 

This process isn’t easy. It requires intentionality, self-control, and willingness to drastically jump outside your comfort zone sometimes. But it is so worth it to be able to replenish your own soul and find happiness, for your ability to love others, and, most importantly, for yourself.

 

Lastly, I want you to know it’s okay to struggle in this process. It’s alright to not be able to do it alone. My therapist has helped me learn how to implement these skills over the years, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her professional help. Never be afraid to seek out help to help yourself. You are worth it, and worthy of discovering yourself and your truth. You are worthy of your own love and self-care, and please don’t be afraid to seek out the resources needed to help you get there.