Our society makes self-care seem like this big thing where we must constantly post about how much we take care of ourselves like we have something to prove to everyone. We’ve all seen those posts all over Facebook and Instagram of the ladies at the spa getting massages or facials, or the group of friends relaxing on the beach in Mexico, #selfcare! But what are we really doing when we give in to these social media norms? Well for starters we aren’t actually practicing self-care, instead, we are acting like we need everyone’s approval for the self-care we are giving ourselves, and that is completely wrong. We don’t need approval or permission for self-care. In fact, self-care is something we need to embrace for ourselves. We need to stop yearning for the approval and permission of everyone on social media, and for what, a “like” or a heart, or a reaction emoji? We need to stop getting gratification from the click of a button and the number of likes on a post, because in the long run that isn’t gratification at all and you can’t survive off of social media approval.
One thing I found online was The Healthy Mind Platter which gives you the seven essential daily mental activities you need to function with minimal anxiety and maximize your hours in the day.
Here are the seven essential daily activities Dr. Dan Siegel recommends:
- Focus Time- When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, we take on challenges that make deep connections in the brain.
- Play Time- When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, we help make new connections in the brain.
- Connecting Time- When we connect with other people, ideally in person, and when we take time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain’s relational circuitry.
- Physical Time- When we move our bodies, aerobically if medically possible, we strengthen the brain in many ways.
- Time In- When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain.
- Down Time- When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help the brain recharge.
- Sleep Time- When we give the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.
These seven seemingly simple daily activities are hard sometimes, especially if you’re a busy college student, like me. Often times I find that when I try to have my “focus time” I end up going down the rabbit hole of how many tasks I need to accomplish in the week and lose sight of the point of “focus time”. The point is to focus on and prioritize tasks to make them attainable and less stressful.
Prioritizing physical time has been a new thing for me since I graduated high school and it is something I am constantly working to improve. It is something that ends up on the chopping block whenever I feel overwhelmed by school and life. But this year I have been trying this new thing where I don’t compromise my physical health and in return, I have been going to the gym 2-4 times a week! I feel great because I am getting the much-needed exercise in and it also brings me back to reality less stressed and more ready to tackle all the tasks on my to-do lists.
Sleep time is something I struggle with. It is hard being a college student constantly trying to decide between studying a few more hours or getting the sleep. And often the studying beats the sleep. This is something I am still working on, but I get it, it is hard, especially when our schedules change every quarter. By the time you get a good routine down it’s the end of the quarter and the start of a new one and you’re back to where you started, trying to figure out a balance between studying and sleep, and maybe fitting in some playtime for sanity’s sake.
I’ve recently been listening to podcasts in the morning while I get ready for school, and this one stood out to me. It is a great conversation on how important self-care is and how easily it can be done without breaking the bank.
Here are a few affordable self-care tips and activities from Dr. Jenn Hardy, a guest interviewee on the “Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast” Episode 112:
- Set Boundaries
- Take a bath, light candles
- Work out
- Go for a walk (fresh air does wonders for how you feel throughout the day)
- Go to bed early
- Stretching/ Yoga
- Mindful breathing
- Keep a calendar/ schedule in breaks
- Watch your favorite movie
- Re-read a favorite book from childhood
- Playtime (adults need playtime too)
Setting boundaries is something I think we work for our whole lives. I am a people pleaser and setting boundaries is hard. I’ve had to set boundaries lately and I have found that I am more relaxed and less worried about “hurting someone’s feelings”.
Taking a bath, it is really underrated and definitely not talked about enough. I think I have only prioritized a bath one time this quarter. But what I do know is that when I put my diffuser on, read my book in a hot bath with some nice bath salts and let myself truly relax (no cell phone in the bathroom either), I felt so refreshed and had a sense of calm around me for the rest of the night.
Journaling is something I always think I want to start but I never know what to write. I find myself more inclined to do arts and crafts when I need to relax. I put on Netflix, set up my crafting table and just create. That is probably one of the most common “playtime” activities I do for myself and everyone in my life knows I need crafting time!
Hopefully, some of the tips help you prioritize self-care and have a less stressed week.