Self care is a term I’ve heard more in the past year than the rest of my life combined. I’ve got a lot to say about the subject and how it’s revolutionizing my life and my friends’ lives…but for now, here are seven examples of self care lessons I’ve learned. Some or all of these might not work for you, everyone’s different, I’m not a doctor or a friend therapist, insert any other disclaimer I’ve forgotten here. Read on!
1. Essential oils aren’t entirely the scam I thought they were. I was initially skeptical about essential oils and diffusers, since social media people peddle them left and right. As it turns out, it’s no joke (or at least some of it’s not). Lavender actually does help migraines and generalized anxiety disorder. Now I’ve got lavender tea, body lotion, body wash, candles, and a diffuser. Give me all the lavender! We also like orange oil (might reduce anxiety) a lot. It’s basically relaxation city over here.
2. Science isn’t kidding about 20 minutes of exercise affecting your mood. I hate exercise as much as the next person, but this year I’ve seen how different my mood can be on a day when I put in that 20 minutes of some kind of activity. When I go to the gym, I wear sunglasses and a baseball cap to minimize getting distracted by the folks around me who are also gym-ing. It also helps to remind myself that we’re all different, with our own goals, advantages, and struggles. What works for Broseph a few machines down won’t exactly be what works for me. Something like walking on the treadmill counts as exercise, even when you are afraid it doesn’t. You’re doing something good for your body and your mind. I actually said the words “I really want to go workout later today, I think my mind needs it” to W recently. Unironically. I promise if I can get there, you can.
3. Even if you have trouble sleeping right now, you don’t always have to have trouble sleeping. For most of my life, I dreaded bedtime. Sleeping (if I can even get to the falling asleep part) is often active for me, not restful. In nightmares, I hide, I run, I climb. I’m defending myself, I’m trying to fix something. I wake up with a sudden start at 2 AM a lot. I used to avoid going to bed altogether and pulled all-nighters just to watch movies or play video games instead of sleep. In the past few years, I’ve learned a few things that have really started to shift my mindset in the evening. I use a white noise machine to block out sirens or cars, cats tearing around in the other room, and W snoring. I bought a big husband pillow so I have the option to sleep propped up if I need to. I try to take time to use my skincare products, and I take a second shower (I’m a morning shower person) sometimes to just breathe in the steam and relax my muscles. I run my aforementioned essential oil diffuser. W has walked me through some evening yoga a few times. Making a consistent (or as consistent as I can manage) bedtime time does a lot to settle my mind. I could keep going, but those things give you a good picture of what I’m talking about. It might all sound like a lot. That’s okay. Whatever amount of free evening time you have available to you, grab it and claim it and don’t look back. It’s okay to take it for you! With all of these new options in my back pocket, getting ready for bed feels a little less like bracing myself for the worst and more like a wind down towards something resembling rest.
4. If you suffer from frequent headaches, migraines (W), or cluster headaches (me), be prepared in case of pain. Keep stick-on cooling gel sheets for your head/neck both in your home and your bag. They’re also amazing for bringing down fevers. Ours are called “Be Koool Gel Sheets for Adult Migraines”, I buy them from Amazon, and they have become essential for us. Often it makes the difference between getting through the day on your feet and lying on the floor in tears.
5. Absolving yourself of guilt over using paper plates can make the difference between drowning and staying afloat in depression. Whether you have no counter space and a tiny sink like our old apartment or a massive kitchen with two sinks in an island, depression can render an everyday task like washing dishes impossible. Paper plates gave us a sense of normalcy and gave us back the power to feed ourselves and share with others without a mountain of plates to wash first. You can get them in bulk for super cheap on Amazon. Don’t let anyone lecture you about wastefulness or the environment right now. It’s not the time.
6. Biological family is not “everything” or by default more important than everyone else. Don’t listen to people who try to force this priority on you, especially if they are your family themselves. While humans are human and everyone is flawed, not everyone has a healthy family situation for one reason or a hundred reasons. Sometimes, or all the time, you might be safer, happier, calmer, and more free to be yourself around a significant other, close friend, or group of friends. This is your chosen family. They are the ones who stick by you and value you for who you are and nothing more. There is nothing wrong with that, and if someone says otherwise, they are not on your side.
7. If you love baths, sheet masks, or any other skincare or beauty type thing, partake as often as time and your budget permit. I had essentially zero experience with these things before my thirties, and they can be game changing for your self esteem and slowing down the frantic pace of life. Lately I’ve been painting my nails, and using a glass nail file and nail oil. The whole nail shebang! If you like nail polish and hold yourself back because it’s a pain to take off, let me introduce you to my new friend. Her name is UNT Ready For Takeoff Peel Off Base Coat, and she is fantastic.