When you think of self care, what do you see?
You probably see a bubble bath in a luxurious, clawfoot tub that smells of rose petals and vanilla; a tall glass of chilled white wine; a warm, fluffy towel with maybe a lush face mask and a manicure ready to go. Well I hate that stuff, if anything it stresses me out and bores me more than relaxes me.
There may be a reason for this. I stumbled upon an article from VeryWellMind.com and I found out that self care is not one-size-fits all. If you have social anxiety, going out with friends is likely to make you panic rather than calm you down. Similarly, if you hate sitting down in one space for a long time (like me), then a bubble bath won’t do you any good.
In order to truly feel happy and relaxed you must first assess your basic needs in order to figure out the best course of action. Whether you are craving mental, emotional, physical or social self-care, here are some ideas to get yourself feeling like you again!
- Mental Self-Care
Mental self-care is all about making sure your inner self is at peace. In order to do this, you need to focus on activities which stimulate your thinking and ensure that you are filling your mind with things that make you feel good. In addition to this, you need to also practice self-affirming behaviors and compassion to maintain a healthy inner dialogue. If you are feeling especially dull, out of touch or like you have lost yourself, mental self-care may be what you need to focus on. Some things you can do are:
Do a puzzle
Get an adult coloring book
Learn about a new subject that fascinates you to take a break from your normal studies/work
Read a new book that you have always wanted to read
- Emotional Self-Care
Emotional self-care involves making sure you have healthy coping mechanisms in order to acknowledge and express your feelings in a beneficial way on a daily basis. You have to make sure to set aside the time to deal with feelings like sadness, anger and jealousy so that those feelings don’t get bottled up. If you are realizing that you have a lot of pent-up emotions that keep on building and building with no escape, you should use some of these strategies to deal with your emotional self-care:
Have an honest heart-to-heart with a friend, parent or significant other where you let it all out and can gain a new perspective
Get a journal to write down how you are feeling — often times when we write we get a new kind of clarity
Get an interactive self-help book to have a structured way of working through how you are feeling. My personal favorite is Burn After Writing by Sharon Jones
- Physical Self-Care
Physical self-care focuses on the relationship between your body and your mind. When you fuel your body correctly, you will feel like your mind is more at ease. Physical self-care is all about managing your health and wellness so that you can stay in order. This may be good for someone who doesn’t feel like themselves when they remain sedentary all day and who is always looking for a physical outlet. This may not sound exactly like you, but physical self care also extends to any action which supports the body/mind relationship. While it does not always have to be working out in a gym, if an often look like:
Setting aside at least one hour per day to go for a walk, go to the gym, go for a bike ride or just doing something physical
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep, and if you are not maybe consider taking a nap or going to sleep earlier
Taking your medication as prescribed
Eating foods that properly nourish your body
- Social Self-Care
Social self-care is great for making time for friends and family, overall making the relationships in your life a priority. Oftentimes people feel better and more like themselves when surrounded by people who love them. While excess socialization tends to stress out an introvert, an extroverted individual may benefit from this. If you are feeling isolated, like you are missing out on things that life has to offer and you are in need of some bonding time with someone, social self-care practices are what you need. Consider:
Going out to dinner with your friends without a time limit so you can truly be in the moment
Set aside time each day to call or facetime your family if you can’t see them all of the time
Do something nice for one of your friends or family members so you can nurture and strengthen the relationship you have
It is too common for college students to get caught up in their academics to realize that they need to be making themselves and their needs a priority. But what works for your friend to feel at ease may not work for you. In order to be optimizing your self-care, you need to focus on your own needs and wants and do what is best for you. Once you figure this out, you will (hopefully) feel like yourself again.