Self-care is a big thing these days, and for good reason. We’re surrounded by so much noise that it can be easy to be swallowed by it all. From constant social media updates, to the 24-hour news cycle, to the seemingly growing demand to be ever-more productive at work, the demands on our attention can not only be never-ending, but a significant source of stress.
I never realized just how much I wasn’t taking care of myself before I heard the term “self-care,” but I’m so glad I did learn it. I had no strategies for dealing with stress. I went through my days without a routine; I came home from work and was lazy all night; I spent more time pleasing others than I did myself.
Then, I had a series of panic attacks.
Things reached a fever-pitch in the fall when I was as stressed as I had ever been at work, and that stress fueled my already-existing anxiety. Over-worked (in part because of my inability to say 'no') and dealing with typical and not-so-typical work stressors, I had at least three panic attacks between October and November in 2016. It was then I realized I needed to take better care of myself — for my own sanity and because, damn it, I’m worth it.
Now I have an entire arsenal of self-care methods at my disposal, and I’ve found my life has become much more enjoyable. I still have stress in my life — of course — but now I can deal with that stress much more effectively.
Here are 12 of my favorite self-care techniques:
I start my day with a cup of tea.
It’s not only comforting to start my day with a warm drink, but it also gives me a purpose when I wake up in the morning. I never used to have a morning routine — and I still don’t to a large degree — but knowing I have to make my tea helps get me out of bed.
I’ve always liked the idea of journaling, but I’ve never been really good at the follow-through. Then I found a journaling method that works for me, and I’m hooked. I’ve written about my bullet journal before, and it’s a great way for me to keep track of my habits, keep notes about my life and set goals — and as INFP-T, I’m all about my goals :) My new favorite method for reaching a goal is coloring in a little box to indicate I did what I needed to do to reach the goal that day. Maybe dorky, but it works for me!
I work out.
I’ve been a fairly regular exerciser, but I try to make it a priority as much as possible. Taking care of my body should be self-explanatory. Plus, talk about your natural anti-depressant!
I practice yoga.
Yoga, to me, is about the connection between body and mind. I had practiced sporadically in the past, but I found a class that worked for me in January and I try to go as much as possible for both the physical and mental benefits.
I try to eat right.
I’m much happier when I don’t feel like I’m about to explode because I ate to much of the wrong thing. I love cheese and bread and wine, but I am focused on enjoying those things with much more moderation than I used to because indulging too much always leaves me sluggish and sad. (P.S. Five more days of Whole30!)
I make time to read.
I love to read, but I realized that over the last several years, I had barely spent any time reading. I thought it was because I was just so busy that I didn’t have enough time leftover, but then I realized how much time I spent watching TV and fiddling around on social media. So this year I set a goal to read 50 books, and I’ve already finished 15. Now there’s nothing I look forward to more than climbing into bed with my book at the end of the day.
I make time to write.
I am a writer, and I was not writing. At least not the kinds of things that made me happy. Hence this blog. I try to write here at least five times a week to keep working that muscle.
I say no more.
I, like a lot of women, have been used to trying to please other people at all times, so I found myself doing a ton of things I didn’t have time for or didn’t want to do. I’m still not perfect at this, but I’ve been working on only saying yes to things that are within my capabilities.
I spend more time alone.
I’m not sure how much more time alone I’m spending, because I actually really like spending time alone (I scored as 90 percent introverted on my 16personalities.com assessment). I guess I’m just more aware about the things I turn down if I need time to decompress and just be by myself. Like this Saturday, my dad and brother are heading to a baseball game and asked me along, but as Saturday is my only day off this week, I’m choosing to spend it to myself to reset. And I can’t wait.
I listen to more podcasts.
This is kind of like reading more. I know podcasts are huge right now, but there’s something about them that feel decidedly old-school to me. My favorite podcasts seem like a much better use of my time than television and Twitter.
I started getting my nails done.
I wasn’t going to get through this list without talking a little about beauty… And holy crap, I am never doing my own nails again. I’d never gotten a manicure before, and then I got a gel manicure and my world turned upside down. I never knew my hands could look good (I was a nail-picker, something I’ve since realized was a product of my anxiety). But I starting taking Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, which has made my nails about 10x stronger, and made my first trip to the nail salon and now the state of my hands is a little source of pride.
I started using a facial toner.
I’m not entirely sure what toner is supposed to do, but I like the routine of it. I’ve started using Alaffia’s Everyday Coconut Water Face Toner, just spritzing on a bit after washing my face. It’s a Certified Fair Trade product and I love that the company is committed to several good causes, including providing maternal health care, aiding reforestation and providing school supplies in African communities.
These techniques work for me, and they fit my personality as someone who is constantly seeking improvement and setting goals. Other self-care methods might work for others, but you'll never know what works for you until you set aside the time to actually take care of yourself.
What self-care techniques to you have? What do you enjoy the most?