Mental Health professionals repeat the term “self-care” consistently.
It’s a valid and important part of one’s health. ‘Self-care’ is an ambiguous and vague term and means something different to every person. People generally associate ‘meditation’ with self-care, but that is not practical or enjoyable for everyone. So, let’s look at some practical and tangible self-care techniques. Maybe one or two will resonate with you.
People often boil down self-care to journaling or writing, but that’s exhausting and time consuming to many of us. Writing can also have a connotation of being “good” or “bad”. Self-care is not performance based, it’s for you!
I prefer to think about creating. Sketching, coming up with a tune, or playing “Ode to Joy” on an old keyboard is all valid. Whether you are a guitar whiz or simply admire guitarists, follow what you love. If it’s comics and cartoons, find a basic drawing tutorial on Pinterest and copy it. From five minutes to five hours, producing something of your own is cleansing with a sense of accomplishment.
Ignore the word ‘exercise’. Even if that is a frequent part of your routine, it has a negative connotation. It’s work, it’s exhausting, etc. Movement instead suggests that it is fluid to whatever you wish.
I love skating. I have a skateboard, longboard, quad skates, and roller blades. It feels like flying. I get to be outside and get my heart rate up without being consumed with how tired, sweaty, or hot I am. Movement is important for your physical health, and you do not have to separate that from your emotional health!
Skating won’t resonate with all of you. Maybe you love nature and start gardening. Maybe you join a local ultimate frisbee league. Boxing clubs are becoming more diverse and inclusive of styles, maybe you take an intro class or try kickboxing. Whatever it is, find something that you will look forward to doing.
3. Visit a favorite spot
Think about what types of places you frequent. Do you get coffee every morning? Do you take your dogs for long walks? Are there local clothing stores you frequent? If you grab a quick cup of coffee at Starbucks on the way to work, maybe one day spend an hour at a local coffee place with quality coffee, comfortable chairs, and your music/laptop/book. Make your coffee stop rejuvenating in every way.
Maybe you dread walking your dogs in the morning. Is there a local dog park where they can run around? I love watching my dogs play with cute puppies. Dog parks can be full of awkward conversations, so maybe you find a friend and walk your dogs together.
You can shop, sit, eat and drink, kayak, whatever you need to do. People often see their psyche reset when they visit a spot they love.
4. Do something you are good at
It’s nice to have a boost of confidence. Challenge your roommate to Scrabble and kick their butt. Visit a batting cage. Whatever random skill you have, revisit it every so often. It is encouraging and inspiring to feel success, especially if your work or personal life feels stagnant.
If you’re reading this racking your brain for something you’re good at and are coming up short, don’t beat yourself up! Start at the beginning and learn something new! Simple steps of progress are rewarding. I like to pick up crochet when I need a sense of accomplishment. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy and you see progress on your project quickly.
5. Catch up with someone
Lastly, we all need encouragement. It is hard in our fast-paced environments to actively keep up with friends and family, but there’s nothing like catching up with an old friend. When I talk to my old college roommate, I’m immediately transported back to our crappy beds watching goofy television with junk food, and it makes me smile. Maybe there’s someone who has always been encouraging to you, someone who always makes you laugh, or someone who reminds you of a fond memory. Even if it’s just a quick text, catching up with someone is refreshing and encouraging.
Take whatever is helpful to you into your daily routine! Set aside time for yourself. Exhaustion just leads to more exhaustion and discouragement. You can set yourself up for success and emotional and physical health by practicing self-care.