“Self Care” is an ominous and kind of vague subject. I feel like a lot of times it has a negative connotation and people are embarrassed to talk about it. As if everyone doesn’t have shitty days or periods in their life when they’re confused, struggling to figure their life out, depressed, or simply in a slump. Guess what!? We all have our bad days, weeks & years. There’s nothing to be ashamed of! You’re not alone and the feelings you feel aren’t weird. Instead of alienating yourself because of your feelings, I think it’s important to bridge the gap and drop the stigma associated with self care.
Feeling Like Crap? It’s ok!
I’m not a medical professional, so obviously take everything I say with a grain of salt. If you’re feeling depressed, suicidal or having thoughts of self harm. You should reach out to someone. Whether it’s a friend, parent or professional. Let someone know what’s up.
But the biggest piece of information I want to put out there is that it’s totally ok if you feel like crap. The first, and most important thing, is to make sure not to remind yourself that what you’re feeling is totally normal & not to be too hard on yourself. Whatever is going on, the most important thing is to be kind and gentle with yourself. You’re not weird or a freak for being down. By ripping yourself apart, you’re just going to make it worse.
Our minds and our bodies are connected. By embracing our feelings and learning more about ourselves, we can lead more balanced lives. When we understand our feelings and take care of them, we can become more well-rounded, happier & healthier. It doesn’t just affect our brains, it affects our relationships and those around us. Think about it… when our best friends or family members are unhappy, we feel it. When you’re feeling like crap, the people around you notice. The gentler you are with yourself (and your emotions), the more those around you will notice.
What Exactly is Self Care?
Ok, so the term “self care” sounds like a bunch of hocus pocus & kumbaya. But it’s not! It’s a combination of mental, physical & emotional practices. Sounds simple, right? It’s not that it’s hard, it’s that a lot of us just overlook a lot of elements to well rounded self care. They’re practices we often have to teach ourselves and continue reteaching and reminding ourselves of throughout our lives.
Physical Self Care
This is what most of us think about when we hear “self care”. Things like: getting enough sleep, exercising, drinking water, sleeping, etc. It’s not necessarily about drinking a bunch of kombucha or going vegan, it’s about tuning into your body and how it feels. Maybe you need to get some more sleep or get outside a little bit. It also means not drinking too much or partying too hard. AKA not doing stuff that will make you feel like crap.
Emotional Self Care
The way we handle our feelings is vital. Just like it’s important to eat healthy, it’s important to deal with out emotions in a healthy way. We have to deal with out emotions in a positive and productive way. Instead of beating ourselves up over negative or unhappy emotions, we need to learn to be kind to ourselves and honor the way we feel so that we can process them in a healthier, effective way. It’s important to work on positive coping mechanisms & developing an “emotional intelligence”. We have to learn how to react to our emotions in a healthy way and be aware of our feelings.
Personal Self Care
Personal self care is about better understanding and accepting yourself. I like listening to metal, Star Wars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also feel really uncomfortable in most social situations and don’t feel like I fit into any cliques. But guess what… I’m totally ok with it!
Personal self care means accepting your true self. There’s no such thing as being “too emo” or “too quiet” or “too loud” or “too anything”. You have to figure out what you like to do and forge your own path. Who cares if it’s unconventional or not what you necessarily think is “cool”. The things that make you unique and different are what makes you special.
Social Self Care
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it’s important to be aware of what you need. For example, I hate being in groups of people. I used to struggle with that. I was embarrassed and mad at myself for not liking group social situations and parties. As I’ve gotten a little older, I’ve acknowledged that it’s ok. I do better one-on-one with friends and that’s totally normal. I’m ok passing up invitations to things that I know will make me uncomfortable. Part of social self care is knowing your people threshold or requirements.
Practical Self Care
I like to refer to this as “grown up shit”. This is kind of a general category that applies to all of the random stuff you need to do to stay sane and keep your brain healthy. This includes things like: going to school and finishing your homework, finding a job you enjoy, paying your bills on time, cooking yourself breakfast, creating a savings account, making a game plan for your career goals, taking time off to relax and so on. It’s the stuff that you might roll your eyes at a little, but in the long run will make you feel proud of.
Why Is Self Care Important?
Often times, the older we get or the more responsibilities we have, the easier it is to forget about taking care of ourselves. When you’re busy with a million things and your brain is overwhelmed with “stuff”, it’s easy to neglect ourselves. Self care helps prevent what I call “emotional overload”. You know, when you get to that point where you can’t handle anything else and want to just give up? For me, it usually results in a major shower cry or me laying on the floor under my desk (I’m not kidding). By being in tune with our emotions, we can check in with ourselves before things get unmanageable. It also helps reduce stress & keeps us focused on the positive.
A Few Closing Thoughts…
Part of how I deal with my own issues is through sarcasm an humor. That being said, I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t believe that depression is a real and serious thing. I’ve dealt with it my entire life. I’m being completely honest here. I’ve had my ups and downs and in betweens. I spent the last decade working on myself and am nowhere near an expert on these matters. I do believe that it’s important to discuss these topics and our feelings so that there’s less of a stigma associated with them. We all have good and bad times.
The most important thing is to know that you’re not alone. Finding a solid network of positive people is really helpful, whether it’s family or friends. Or even a therapist you can talk to. There’s nothing weird or embarrassing about talking to someone about your problems and feelings. Never feel ashamed of yourself, you’re doing the best you can and life is just a process of discovery and navigating through the good, bad & everything in between.
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