A few months ago the idea struck me to do a video every day for an entire month all around the topic of self care. I really wanted to start my blog and my channel in a meaningful way. My goal with Self Care Month is to not only improve my own self-care but in taking you a long on this journey with me, help you improve your own self-care too. Naturally we will be celebrating Self Care Month here, so come back and visit whenever you like because this month will be packed with detailed posts on self-care. The first steps are the most important to starting, so here are the first 5 steps to practise good self care.
1) Realize Self-Care is Necessary
Self love seems to be a running trend this year, more and more people preach the ever popular mantra to “treat yo self”. Self love didn’t seem like a very easily achievable goal to me but like any goal, breaking it down into baby steps makes it seem much more do-able. Self care is the practise of self love. We care for those we love. So if we love ourselves then we should want to care for ourselves, right?
When you fly from the nest that is home and are faced with the daunting task of not only making your own income and functioning in this demanding society but also showering, grooming and ironing? Oh and don’t get me started on the added grooming I have. People who find the time to paint their finger or toenails baffle me, I barely cope with doing all the latter and keeping my eyebrows from going haywire. Whenever I take on a big work project, my self-care often falls down the drain. I struggle with getting severely whelmed at the amount of tasks that taking care of myself, staying clean and looking “acceptable” actually takes. This is mainly because I don’t put self-care high enough on my priorities, I focus so much on my work that I don’t leave enough time for the most basic self-care like making lunch.
Self-care doesn’t have to be flustering, in fact it should be the opposite. The lives we live now are very demanding, we constantly strive to work hard and measure up to societies or even social medias expectations. The demands of of us both mentally and physically seem to go up each year. We are pushed to be more on fleek and more successful but will we really enjoy life if we are constantly striving full-tilt? I’m all about self-growth and constantly improving but being present and enjoying life is also key. Self-care is the perfect time to do that.
2) Admit When You Neglect Your Self-Care
When you’re stressed it’s hard to see how your baseline needs could be causing you to feel that way. Even at the peak of thriving, when you are building something from scratch or working your butt off every day you can neglect your self-care when it’s not your top priority. Stress can make you ignore the impact and control you have over your own happiness and stress levels.
Personally for me, when depression dips my mood down it becomes very easy for me to neglect my self-care. Then it becomes a spiral. When your baseline needs aren’t met your overall mood will decrease. I confuse this with the “pit” of depression and I become a victim to it complaining about the horrible “hole of depression” i can’t climb out of. When you fail to take care of yourself because your mood dips, you dip your mood even more. It’s so important when you are in the least likely mood to take care of yourself that you do. Otherwise it can become a negative downward spiral. Recognising when you are perpetuating this spiral and taking responsibility for your self care is key.
Step 3) Learn To Identify Good Self Care
Self-care isn’t just showering and looking presentable every day. Sadly eating an entire tub of ice cream when your day is shitty isn’t the best form of self-care. That’s not to say you can’t do it but if you were to think comfort eating was a form of self-care you might repeat it in the hopes it lifts your mood. There are tons of studies that show the link between processed foods and decrease in moods. Penn State University found poor eating habits worsen a persons mood. Repeatedly reaching for a bag of cookies too often can be a form of self-neglect rather than self-care. Identifying these “bad” forms of self-care will make it very easy to make sure you are taking care of yourself properly.
Often people get themselves into bad habits that don’t align with their morals. They then are faced with cognitive dissonance; they believe for example “I don’t want to die” but smoke cigarettes every day. When someone has a dissonance between their morals and their actions something has to change for them to be able to cope mentally with it. It’s like when Zuko breaks out into cold sweats because he’s torn between his good actions and bad reputation. Sadly, we so often see this change come forth in excuses. I always hear “we all die someday” and the ever famous “it just relaxes me I need it” which I won’t lie, peeves me off a little. This is where self-destruction is being excused as self-care. I’m not going to tell anyone how to live their lives but I’d invite you practice good self-care. If you find another vice that relaxes you in the form of good self-care then maybe anyone who does won’t feel the need to use food, alcohol or smoking to fill that role.
Step 4) Create a Self Care Routine
It’s important to allot yourself time for self care. When something matters you put the date on your calendar, you decide a time and place to meet; you get specific. So if your self care is going to matter you need to schedule it into your routine. Even if you currently don’t have much of a routine, it’s important to make a routine for self-care so that the things you think you should be doing everyday to cover your baseline needs will become habits. So then you won’t have to look at a list or reminder because it’ll be ingrained in your daily life.
For some people their self-care includes taking a break from social media. In the world we live in we measure satisfaction from working hard, buying more things and scrolling through the same website and calling it leisure. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the huge influx in depression has come with the wave of the Internet and social media. So if it’s for you, maybe consider taking a break from the Internet every day. Nature is known to elevate moods so perhaps going outside could be apart of your self-care. Write a list of things you love to do and put choosing one from the list each day and doing it as apart of your self-care routine.
Your checklist should be tailored to you but it could go something like this:
- Drink Water
- Eat 3 Meals a Day
- Brush Teeth
- Exercise or Go Outside
- Take a Shower
Step 5) Track Your Self Care
Sometimes days can blend together, the teeth you thought you brushed this morning was actually yesterday. It’s very easy if you work at a desk like me to let the hours fly by and miss an entire meal before you notice your hungry. Find a way that suits you to track your self care. Apps and reminders on your phone are great ways to remind and hold yourself accountable for the important stuff. I personally made a habit tracker in my bullet journal just to track my self care, it includes things like my morning routine, working out, showering etc. I also track my mood every day alongside these habits and over the months I’ve learned that the more I take care of myself the higher my mood averages.