Self-care will be an overarching theme for many topics on the blog. Until I realized my personal stress triggers, what is the root of my anxiety and how to “handle” these states of being—it was difficult for me to really be cognizant of when and how to practice self-care.
Disclaimer: self-care looks different for everyone. But I do believe everyone should readily practice it. For me, my deepest anxieties lie in my obsessive need to be successful in life. This means even on a granule level if I’m not good at something, say maintaining my study schedule, it is difficult for me to step back and have perspective. I think my entire life is in shambles. Then the obsessing over other insecurities in every aspect of my life begin to snowball. And in the past, it has been hard for me to control the snowball from forming. BUT through real self-exploration, being honest with myself and some very good friends—I’ve recognized this trigger, and I’ve been able to stop its growth at the source. Or I have been able to recognize when I’m in the middle of an episode and I work myself out of it. This comes with time. It is very difficult to recognize situations like this happening because you’re in the middle of it yourself. And for some it will come with time and others it will come with therapy or both. For the record, I’m totally a proponent of therapy. I think it is imperative to talk through what you are feeling, why you’re feeling what you are feeling and how to work through those feelings in a healthy manner. And most of us do not have friends or family that are in a healthy place themselves to help us do that or we need a professional due to the severity of our anxieties or mental state. So if you recognize you need help—seek it. Really the best thing you can do for yourself is to try to figure yourself out on an emotional level.
Okay on to the self-care. Like I stated, self-care looks different for everyone. And that luxurious façade that everyone thinks self-care is—is crap. Self-care can be as simple as putting your phone on do not disturb or closing yourself in for a couple of hours to reflect, meditate or just be. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sheet mask, bottle of rosé and old movie to decompress, but even for me self-care looks differently depending on what I’m curing myself of. Sometimes it’s best I be with myself outdoors in the open air if I’m feeling disconnected. Looking into the sky reminds me that the world is huge and I’m just a piece of the puzzle. Sometimes I go on drives and blasts music. Sometimes I cry. Not in the self-pity kind of way, but in order to shed the wallowing swell of emotion I have to release in order to unpack it. Crying is okay. Crying in self-pity is unhealthy. The main point of self-care is yourSELF. You and only you can perform self-care for yourself. This reminds us that no one can make you happy, whole or complete but yourself. You have to stop thinking that someone else can save you from you. We have to save ourselves—and self-care is just one of the steps in the process. Take a couple of minutes each day to give back to yourself. In this day and time, we pour so much into everyone and everything. I love the saying (and constantly remind myself of it), "you can't pour out of an empty cup." Don’t allow for so much time to pass that you’re only performing self-care when you absolutely need it. Try to work it into your weekly schedule so that it becomes a preventative measure.
Practice: Sit down for 10 minutes after you read this and write down some of your known stress triggers. Now match a self-care practice to these triggers.
For example, I get overwhelming anxiety when I realize how many tasks I need be complete in a short period of time. The self-care practice that I perform is listing in order of priority these tasks. This allows me to visually realize I can only take it one task at a time in order to complete the entire list. That way I don’t feel like I need to try to do and finish everything at once because it is literally impossible. This helps soothe my anxiety.
This practice will allow you to 1) start being able to recognize your emotional triggers and 2) begin to align them with practices of self-care. You now can begin to see the “problem” and you have a readily available “plan towards a solution” to work yourself out of the problem.
Let me know in the comments if you try this practice. And if you do, let me know if it helps at all. Happy Friday 20 Somethings!