Do you feel guilty when you take some time for yourself?
I used to. I hate disappointing people (who doesn’t?), so I often took on more than I could chew. I’d say yes to things I had no time, skill, or pleasure for. And then there was work. Household chores. Family and friends who needed my help.
I was overwhelmed and super stressed, trying to juggle everything. With so much to do, it seemed selfish to take some time for myself. But, the truth is, it’s selfish not to. When you’re so overworked, exhaustion sets in and you’re not good to anyone anymore.
If you really want to be of use to others, do the best job you can, keep your anxiety under control, and be healthy and happy, you need to take a few minutes to yourself every day.
I know, the art of self-care is hard to master if you’re not used to it. That’s why I put together this beginner’s guide to self-care (which could also have been titled “Things I Do To Stay Sane”):
1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Oh man, wouldn’t it be wonderful if sugar were good for you, and broccoli caused your cholesterol to rise? It’d be so much easier to follow a healthy, balanced diet.
Beating a sugar addition is no piece of cake (I’m still working on mine), but slowly increasing the amount of greens and fruits you eat every day can really do wonders for your health, both mental and physical.
Since I’ve started adding more fruits and veggies to my diet, mostly in the form of homemade juicy smoothies, I have a lot more energy and focus.
I also noticed a shift in my mood. It’s not so gloomy all the time anymore. Now, I can actually feel happy. I believe it’s one of the two things that helped me the most in overcoming my depression. The other one being…
2. Move your body
I used to be a couch potato. The very thought of getting off the sofa and start doing any form of exercising was my idea of hell.
But, after hearing all that jibber jabber about how it releases mood-lifting endorphins and helps with depression, I gave it a go. What do you know, it actually works!
I was never able to stick to exercise when I was doing it only to lose weight. But, once I started noticing the other benefits – increased energy levels, happier moods, and reduced stress and anxiety – working out became something I look forward to every morning.
Every. Single. Day. Every. Chance. You Get. It’s the quickest, and funniest, way to cheer yourself up, and lift your mood from funereal and desolate to cheerful and elated. So, laugh away!
4. Do what you’re meant to do
Writing is my one true passion. Whenever I sit down to write, I feel like this is what I was born to do. Yet, for years, I put it on the backseat, so that I could dedicate my time to “serious jobs” that were making me miserable.
We don’t deserve that. Our gifts don’t deserve that. Whatever your passion is – music, painting, fashion, science, engineering, cooking, football… – follow it.
Even if you can’t turn it into a job just yet, find some time each day to dedicate yourself fully to it. It’ll give you that purpose and meaning we so badly need to live happy, fulfilled lives.
5. Enjoy your guilty pleasures…
We all have one or two. Mine are sitting on the couch for hours with a good book and cup of tea, taking a relaxing and steaming hot bubble bath, and listening to musicals soundtracks all day long.
Whatever relaxes you and helps you unwind, do it. Sometimes, that’s just what our brains, and our bodies, need.
Sometimes, you just want to relax. Other times, you want to relax AND do something productive at the same time. When I get that urge, I usually get into that bathtub with a good non-fiction book. That way, I can learn something new and keep my brain active as I unwind. If you struggle to enjoy your guilty pleasures, combining them with something useful will help you feel less guilty. Win win.
7. Just Breathe
When I heard about the power of meditation and breathing, I was really sceptical. How can something so simple work? But it does. Whenever I feel anxious about something, I take a few deep breathes. It never fails to relax me.
Breathing, just like meditation, forces you to be present in the moment. And, when you do, you realise that right now, at this very moment, you are safe. Then, your body and mind relax, anxiety and stress evaporate, and your perspective shifts.
You finally start seeing things for what they are. That huge crisis is actually a minor annoyance. Even bigger problems have a solution, when you take the time to think about them with a clear head.
But you don’t need to wait to be feel anxious or stress to meditate. You should do it every day, even for just 10 minutes. It helps you center yourself and relax, so you can face whatever life throws at you with calm and focus.
8. Surround yourself with good people
As an introvert, I can spend hours happily alone in my room, reading, writing, relaxing, and recharging my batteries. But even a bear like me craves and needs human connection. All human do. Without it, we wither and die. Literally.
So, surround yourself with people who love, value, and support you. Spend as much time as you can with them. And, when you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out.
Ask a family member, a friend, even a professional. You don’t have to do everything by yourself, and face all your problems on your own. Others will be able to help, if you just ask.
9. Make Time for it
I can give you all the tips in the world, but they are useless if you don’t make the time for them. Don’t wait until you have a free moment.
And don’t wait till you reach breaking point. If you noticed a leak, you wouldn’t wait until your house’s flooded before calling the plumber, would you? You’re much more valuable than a house.
Schedule an hour, or at least a few minutes, every day to nourish your body and mind. Life will be a lot easier and less stressful, if you do.
By the way, you don’t have to do all these activities. What relaxes me may not relax you. That’s ok. The important thing is that you take the time to figure out what works for you, and then do it. Every single day. Because you’re worth it.
Do you take good care of yourself? If so, how?