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Mental Health

6 Free Self-Care Habits To Carry Into The New Year

As soon as the word “self-care” pops into my mind, the image that accompanies it is that of a facemask, a yoga class, or someone luxuriating in a fancy spa. If we are being honest, we live in a time where the commercialisation of self-care means that we sometimes forget the essence of this important practice. Self-care shouldn’t depend on how much disposable cash you can splash, or whether you have access to an elaborate skincare routine. It shouldn’t be something that can only be practiced by some people. It is merely the process of making time for your needs and prioritising your wellbeing. 

So, as we move into a new year, I wanted to share some of the free ways that I will be trying to show myself love and care this year, in the hopes that it will inspire you to do the same. 


Start a journal: 

I am notoriously bad at consistently writing in my journal, but when I am consistent with it, it always pays off. Reflection is one of the best ways to take care of your mind and remind yourself of how far you have come. It also helps to keep you grounded and grateful for the little things in life. Instead of trying to commit to writing pages and pages each week, I just write down three sentences, each day, about something that I thought about, did, or made me happy on that day. 

Get outside: 

This is unbelievably important for my mental health and physical health, so I am prioritising it in 2020. According to Business Insider, we spend more time seated than ever before – and it is really bad for our health. So, even if it is just a walk around my block with the dogs, I’m going to try to make getting outside a regular occurrence in my week.  

Saying ‘no’:

For me, this is the hardest one of all. I never want to miss out on an opportunity, and always seem to think I can take more on. You don’t always have to overextend yourself. It is not your life’s work to fill every moment of your day with something to do. Oh and, saying ‘no’ does not make you ungrateful, it just means that you are being honest with yourself. Building stronger boundaries is definitely a form of self-care. 

Honour your feelings:

The truth is, nobody feels happy and content every day.  There is no user’s manual for human feelings. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. The worst thing you can do is deny your emotions. Don’t supress them and remember that is okay to share with others. 

Ask for help: 

This is something that I have always struggled with. I don’t know where I learnt this destructive behaviour, but somewhere along the way, I internalised the belief that asking for help means that you have somehow failed. You weren’t able to cope. You are not strong enough. Nonsense. Knowing when you are struggling and choosing to reach out for help is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself. Honour the fact that we are all human. 

Do less: 

Honestly, I need to learn how to rest. Sounds like a bit of a silly thing to say, right?! But, you’d be surprised. In this go go go world, where productivity is king and having an unbearable to-do list is somewhat of a bragging right, I find it difficult to rest without feeling guilty. So, I’m trying to build dedicated guilt-free rest time into every week. Rest is what sustains us.  

Everyone has their own ways of spending time on themselves and pressing “pause”. But, you don’t have to overcomplicate it if you don’t want to. Be gentle with yourself, hold space for your feelings, speak kindly to yourself, and most of all, remember that: you are allowed to be a work in progress. 

I am a third-year Multimedia Journalism student at UCT. I'm also the Chairperson and Correspondent of Her Campus UCT. Working with my amazing executive team, each day, makes me feel like I'm living out my childhood dream of being the Editor in Chief of a magazine! I'm passionate about sustainable development, with a particular focus on sustainable fashion, and I hope to be able to work in that innovative industry one day. I'm an advocate for slow living, and an ambitious introvert trying to find my way in the world. A dip in the ocean, or a walk in the mountain, are the two things that bring me the most peace.
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