When is the last time you got together with friends and upon asking how they’re doing, they immediately respond with all the negative things floating around their head? Or their love life woes? Work related stresses? Wait, before even returning the question and asking how you’ve been? PAUSE.
So often, I come across people who just love to fill me in on how stressed and depressed they are. When I worked in retail, it actually shocked me how much personal information people would blurt out… it was like I was wearing a plaque that read: “PLEASE VENT TO ME! I WANT TO KNOW ALL YOUR ISSUES!” Not that I’m an insensitive person — anyone who knows me knows that couldn’t be farther from the truth — but I simply don’t want to hear it! Especially if they’re not seeking advice. Nevertheless, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s usually one of two things:
1. They truly are stressed & in a negative state of mind and instead of working to improve their state of mind it somehow soothes them to simply spread their negativity like the common cold,
2. They truly are stressed and depressed and they need some help. They’ve begun to neglect themselves at the cost of a demanding life.
For one thing, clinical depression is no joke — I struggled with it for years myself, and at times it can feel like an uphill battle — that’s why if you’re continually having intrusive depressive thoughts or episodes, it’s always best to see a doctor, talk to a therapist, and just work out the perfectly unique formula of wellness that’s right for you, no judgments, no qualms, no ifs ands or buts. However, so many of us who aren’t clinically depressed still struggle mentally, emotionally, and physically because we’re neglecting the importance of self care. Whether it’s a demanding work/school schedule or just one too many nagging responsibilities, we can all too often glide through life on autopilot and forget we have unique needs and that we’re all deserving of quality time with ourselves.
When we take a few steps back and reset ourselves, keeping everyone else’s negativity and bad energy at bay, we reconnect with who we are. We remember that life is meant to be lived authentically, with passion and joy, and that we don’t need to be everywhere all at once. I’ve been really focusing on self care this summer, especially during this golden month of August. After spending too long feeling especially high-strung and a bit cluttered, I’ve made it a habit instead of something to feel guilty about, or worse, something that’s completely forgotten. Leo season is begging us all to remind ourselves that we’re queens (or kings!). Life is just too short to go through it without showing yourself some love!
There are so many ways to practice self care and love, but below are some specific ways I’ve really been enjoying or just some die-hard practices I tend to fall back on time and time again. If you lead a busy life, you may want to physically mark a date on the calendar to do nothing but spend the day focusing on you. If not, you can be more lenient in your self care practices, but always make time for it! Remember, self care is mental, spiritual, and physical — there are many facets and many ways to practice, so have fun and make a self care date for yourself. You deserve the best.
1. Write It Down, Sketch It Out
Sometimes the most therapeutic thing can be as simple as journaling. Very often when I find my mind feeling scattered and unfocused, I’m completely unaware of everything that I’ve been feeling and focusing on until I actually write it down. You can journal online, but nothing beats a moleskine notebook or a quality sketchbook. There’s just something so much better about pressing ink to paper that we just don’t get while violently hitting the computer keys! In this digital age, a tactile notebook will be your best friend. Plus, bonus points if it fits in your pocket or purse.
2. Relax, Meditate, Take a Breather
It always astounds me how some people are just constantly going. You know, just always on the move? Whaaat? I, for one, need to chill. I prefer gliding through life rather than free falling, and if you do as well, scoring some true relaxation time can vastly improve your wellbeing. I’m leaving this category kind of open-ended because everyone has different ways of relaxing and unwinding. Maybe you feel most relaxed when you’re snuggled up with a good book, or maybe going for a long hike might get you in a chill head space. Whatever it is, don’t forget to relax. Take up meditation if you want to kick it up a notch, as it’s a proven method of centering yourself, after all. I’ve been meditating more and more frequently and trying not to go a single day without it, so if anyone else is doing something similar let’s keep each other going strong! With all the chaos in the world, it’s so important to give your mind and spirit a break. Meditating for at least 10 minutes a day to begin is a perfect way to get back on track, or at least ride the waves better.
3. Clean, De-clutter, Purge
When my energy gets too disorderly, I need to clean. I sweep the floors, do all the laundry, throw things away or donate clothing I no longer wear, burn sage around the corners, doors, and windows, and make sure there’s no leftover clutter. Whenever I get overwhelmed in my life or in my emotional frequency, I notice that my physical surroundings are probably a mess as well. Tidy space = tidy mind. This can actually be kind of fun too, even though it’s technically work, but how can it be?! You’re decluttering your life and ridding yourself of things that no longer serve you in order to bring vibrancy and newness in, and that, my friends, is self care.
4. Get Moving
I am by no means a naturally athletic person. Hell, I skipped gym class in high school so often I had to write essays just to pass. I do however understand that exercise is absolutely necessary to achieving a positive state of mind, and it doesn’t always have to brutal and gross and sweaty. I’m not the kind of gal that will go sprint around the neighborhood for everyone to see, but I love yoga, Pilates, swimming, and hiking or anything outdoors. But that’s just my preference — if you’re a crossfit boss, by all means do your thing, but if you’d rather listen to Prince at an unreasonable volume and dance like crazy, that’s ok too. As long as you get your body moving, you’re reaping the benefits. I’ve been loving getting back into yoga because of the way it strengthens the mind as well as the muscles — it can be so relaxing while being a great workout.
Creation looks different to everyone. Maybe you’re a gifted artist and the only way to express yourself is through your work. Maybe you’re a musician, and writing and playing music is therapy in and of itself. Whatever it is, give yourself the time and space to nurture your creativity and simply create. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It doesn’t even have to be pretty. Whenever I’m feeling low or in need of some self care time, I dig out a bunch of old magazines, put on a good record, and cut stuff up. What is it about collage that’s so lovely to me? I love taking an old image and breathing new life into it. It’s refreshing to me. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but who cares? That’s art if you ask me: creating life out of something lifeless. Your creation is unique to you, and that’s beautiful.
So that’s my condensed list. I just wanted to take some time and remind all of you readers how important it is to honor yourself and honor your life by indulging in self care frequently, without judgment, guilt, or expectations. What self care practices do you keep?