I finished binge watching Law and Order: SVU and still felt anxious. To me, this is what self-care was supposed to look like- indulging in something that should be making me feel better.
Yet, I didn't.
I could still feel the awful welling of anxiety in my chest. Difficulty breathing. Needing to do something else to get rid of the panic that was coming on from overwhelm.
Then, after scrolling through my Reddit feed, I read something that struck a chord with me. I was told that real self-care is going to bed at a proper hour. Taking a shower. The basic daily needs that we tend to neglect, in favor of something more lavish, like a pedicure or going to a spa. Splurging cash we don't have. Treat yourself.
That Reddit post inspired me to write this... 11 real ways to self-care without the spa. How to truly take care of the body.
1. Taking your medication and vitamins. Drinking water.
These are vital. If you're on medication, you need your medication to function, day to day, to minimize issues that can come up. If you have deficiencies so you need to take vitamins, then do that. And take it with some water. Omit all the caffeine, sodas, ice tea's and drink a good heaping glass of water.
2. Eating foods that don't irritate your body or mind.
As someone who is lactose intolerant but still indulges in a cheesecake, I take this one to heart. You might feel good when you eat a tub of ice cream, and a lot of self-care articles encourage you to indulge, but I've never felt great after actually doing it. You might feel too full, bloated, heavy, or even self-loathing that you just ate a whole tub of ice cream.
Eat foods that make your body feel good, rather than something that you'll enjoy now and then regret later (eh hem, I'm looking at you, whiskey). Also, make sure that it's not something that you will feel guilty over.
3. Saying something kind to someone you truly care about.
I think one of the best forms of self-care is to take care of someone else. So many times I've heard that someone has worked through their own issues by giving advice to someone else, for a similar issue. We really are humans that need some sort of socialization to feel good about ourselves.
So, during times of self-care, it would only make sense to turn that care outwards. Reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while or someone you want to say thank you to. Let them know that you appreciate having them in your life and give them a genuine compliment.
4. Paying extra on your credit card bill or adding money to your savings account.
The other day, I had the option between buying something small for myself (probably take-out) or I could put my extra cash towards my credit card statement. Surprisingly, it felt great to put it towards my credit card, knowing that it put me that much more ahead on paying back my debt.
Instead of spending anything extra, save it for something down the road or pay off a debt. It feels really nice!
5. Deactivating social media accounts that cause you stress.
Last year, I decided to do away with social media altogether. I was suffering from comparison syndrome and too many people all up in my business. It felt like a breath of fresh air to deactivate my social media. Give it a try for a day or a week, depending on what you feel you'd be able to handle.
6. Going to bed at a decent hour.
Nighttime is the worst, if you are living with depression, grief, heartbreak, or any other pain. If you don't have insomnia already, you'll probably get it eventually, especially if you stay up late trying to distract yourself from whatever pain you're going through.
I think that in this day and age, it's way too easy to normalize having a sleep disorder. So many people constantly talk about being overworked, tired, and exhausted. But, getting rest is still a form of necessary self-care.
If you're unable to get to bed at a decent hour (before midnight), consider talking to your doctor about non-addictive sleeping aid. They don't have to be forever, just until you get your sleeping back on track. Personally, I use over the counter melatonin to help me adjust to a regulated sleeping schedule and then stop using it when I feel like my body can get some rest without it.
7. Staying away from people who give you anxiety or pain.
If you are in a living situation such as living with parents, it might be hard to get away from the person who is giving you anxiety. In these situations, it's best to get out of the house as much as possible. Get a job (or work from home). Attend meetups or go to LAN parties (especially if you're a gamer).
There might also be longtime friends that you no longer feel comfortable with or a friend that everyone seems to like, but makes you uncomfortable. You could attempt to have a conversation with that person about what makes you uncomfortable, or you could stay in and rest if you know they're invited to an event that you are also invited to. It may not be worth the extra emotional energy that it takes to be around them.
Surround yourself with people that make you feel peaceful and calm. They're probably few and far in between, but relationships aren't supposed to be strenuous.
8. Going to therapy, consistently, and being honest with your therapist.
I sometimes fall into the mental cycle of thinking that my therapist isn't actually helping me, when she definitely is trying her best. I've had therapists in the past who didn't want to work with me because I have borderline personality disorder. So, I generally have a distrust of therapists, although it's so necessary to go to therapy.
A therapist gives you a third person perspective on the events that unfold in your life. They have you make sense of how you view your world and how to appropriately respond to external influences.
Go to therapy. Let it off your chest.
9. Taking responsibility when you mess up and learning to apologize.
One of the worst ways I sabotage myself is holding a grudge even when I know I'm wrong. Yup, when I've hurt someone or did something malicious, I don't always apologize or say that I've messed up... but the guilt does eat away at me in the future. I'd wish that I patched things up, especially when I feel alone.
Sometimes, it's better to just buck up and apologize, taking responsibility, rather than holding a grudge. Future you will thank you in the long run.
10. Practicing good hygiene.
Let's be honest... when in a depressive funk, hygiene is often the first to go out the door. It's difficult to get yourself in the shower or brushing your hair when nothing seems to matter.
Get in that shower. Floss. Brush your teeth. Rinse with mouthwash. Change your underwear. Take a second to care for your physical body. It'll help you feel a lot better.
11. Forgiving yourself.
I think this is one of the more important once. Self-forgiveness is necessary. Forgive yourself for skipping out on that workout. On cancelling on the dentist appointment. For not going to class. The past was yesterday and you can do better tomorrow, but there's no use on dwelling on things that you can't change.
And that's 11 ways to practice self-care without binge watching Netflix.
Do you have any other self-care methods that you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.