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Mental Health

REAL TALK: 7 Ideas For Your Long-Term Mental and Emotional Self-Care

When we hear the phrase “self-care,” the first thoughts that come to mind might include a face mask, a glass of wine, or a candle-lit bubble bath. While these are always well-deserved treatments after a long week, it is important to understand that self-care doesn’t always have to look like this. It could look like a full day of crying and reflecting, a hard therapy session, or cleaning and de-cluttering your physical space. Self-care as a daily or weekly system could mean being more conscious of the things you do consistently to reduce your mental stress or anxiety.

So, what exactly does this kind of consistency look like?

Clean up your space and re-organize any clutter

Dusting, wiping down counters, cleaning your bathroom, sweeping your floors, washing dishes, and folding laundry regularly are all ways to free up physical and mental space. The more you keep up with these tasks on a routine-like basis, the more capacity you hold for other daunting priorities. A free space = a free mind!

Keep track of your daily screen time

Set limits for the amount of time you spend on your phone. Sometimes keeping a mental note might not be enough to hold yourself back from mindless scrolling or constantly checking social media out of boredom (or even unconscious habit). Scrolling through Twitter for 10 minutes almost always turns into 2 hours. I promise you’ll thank yourself in the long run for this one.

Do a social media purge and unfollowing spree

There’s no sense in following hundreds of brands and accounts that you 1) don’t interact with, 2) only follow because you have mutual friends even though you don’t actually care about their content, or 3) only follow “just in case” you see a product you think you might like in the future. Not only does this cause potential information-overload, but it takes up unnecessary space in your mind that you won’t benefit from. Unfollow and allow yourself to let go of the attachment!

Read for 5 to 10 minutes a day

Pick up a book and read, but don’t go past this time limit. So, if you end up wanting to increase your time spent reading, do it in small increments over a longer period of time. For example, spend the first couple of weeks reading for 10 minutes, and then add 5-10 more minutes for the next couple of weeks. Do what’s best for your schedule and remember that the purpose is to build a routine for your long-term wellbeing.

Take some time each day to sit with your breath – no distractions

Just like with reading, give yourself a small window when beginning to build your routine. You can do this first thing in the morning for 3-5 minutes and work your way up if you have the
time. Focusing on your breath is a relaxing practice that can help set the tone for the rest of your day. The long-term effects of mindfulness and breathwork include reduced stress levels and increased happiness, patience, and ability to focus.

Take a walk or sit outside without your phone; be present with yourself and your surroundings

You deserve to unplug and embrace your surroundings. It’s so easy to take nature’s beauty for granted – make it a point in your routine to admire it! Sunset therapy is a miracle worker.

Therapy is a top tier form of self-care

While there might not be any obvious matters that require urgent sessions, anyone could benefit from checking in with themselves and being 100% selfish about it. Receiving unbiased feedback from a therapist could help you understand yourself from an objective perspective, which can, in turn, improve your overall wellbeing in the long run!

You don’t have to add all of these ideas into your schedule at one time (or at all if something doesn’t fit you). Work your way up to it or pick a few that you like best! A bonus tip to hold yourself accountable is to keep a planner or habit tracker for daily tasks. Prioritize your most urgent deadlines and keep a checklist for your habit tracker. Do your best to avoid overbooking your day. The point is to find a balance between productivity and stress-reduction!

I'm a senior studying Economics with a minor in Psychology. My favorite past-time activities include watching Disney movies, working out, sunbathing, creating music playlists for friends, and reading books. My passions include skincare, womxn advocacy, POC advocacy, and learning/teaching about mental health-related topics!
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