As a young adult now living away from family, I find myself in a situation of greater responsibility for myself than I have before. This has lead me to explore various ways in which I can take care of myself on a regular basis and maintain strength of mind and body. Having suffered with mental health issues as a teenager, and even now occasionally but at a much lower level, creating habits are important to me. It’s a guaranteed way of checking in with oneself and maintaining a level of care.
I thought it would be useful to share some of the ways I have been practising self-care and go into detail about how I am forming those habits. Some are well established routines by now while others require a lot more work.
It may come as no surprise that I started exercising more regularly during the coronavirus lockdown period. It gave me time to experiment and I think that’s crucial in creating a steady routine. I personally wanted to gain muscle and become stronger, therefore tailored my exercise accordingly. Based on my high metabolism, working out twice a week was best suitable, while also integrating more walks into my week. I always feel energised after doing a workout and it helps to start the day with a positive mood. It can also release any tension I may have which is another benefit of completing it in the morning specifically.
looking after skin
I’ve had a skincare routine for almost a year now and I find that the benefits extend from just the quality of my skin. For me, it’s not so much about the way my skin looks but how it feels and if it’s been treated kindly. I use two products in the morning and a different two in the evening, making sure to wash my face beforehand both times. The process is relaxing and it feels good to set aside time to do this. Even though it only takes a matter of five minutes, it’s a great habit to have. I feel cleaner and so more presentable and confident for the rest of the day. This is especially helpful if I don’t feel like wearing any makeup.
asking for help
There’s an assumption that to be strong means being able to face challenges alone but it’s natural to need assistance at times, no matter what the size of the problem. Being comfortable asking for and receiving help will lower the chances of issues building up so quickly that it becomes overwhelming. Sometimes, advice is all that’s needed and it can be a very valuable tool. Understanding who the best suited people to go to are depends on the problem and is something to consider. I am now trying to make a habit of recognising when things are just beginning to build up and ask the appropriate person for some support.
taking necessary breaks
I get so much joy from my creative work but often don’t give myself enough time to switch off. Sometimes this leads to frustration as over-thinking can make the quality of my work decrease. At worst, I burn out. This mindset can also be applied to household chores where I take on too much at once and get overwhelmed. In order to lower the pressure I put on myself, setting restrictions of when to perform certain tasks has been useful. This includes using the evenings as a time to unwind. Additionally, I have started listening to my body and understanding the signs of when some relaxation time is needed.
Before I settle down for bed, I write a brief summary of the day focusing on how I’ve felt. I also include a list of three things I have recently been grateful for. The idea behind this is to get everything off my chest as well as reflect on the positive elements of the day. I find this exercise to be extremely beneficial in maintaining a more positive mindset and as a way of relaxation. Although this relates a little more to personal growth, I still think it is valuable for health and wellbeing as it’s a straightforward way to check in with how I’m feeling. This is something I would like to touch upon more soon and will link it below when it’s published.
I have always been my harshest critic in life and often beat myself up when I make mistakes or something doesn’t go to plan. Even now this is something that I am still trying to work on but can definitely see improvements. I have been learning to let go and give myself the opportunity to make errors and assume that they will happen from time to time. Instead of being self-critical, I remind myself that these mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow from. Perfection just isn’t possible and the time I waste making myself feel bad isn’t worth it whatsoever.
purchasing food carefully
Since learning more about sustainability through these environmental documentaries, I have become more conscious of the food I am purchasing. Consequently, I am putting more effort into maintaining a healthy balanced diet which is of course vital when it comes to daily functioning and productivity. When I’ve eaten a good meal, I feel like I have more energy and have respected my body. A habit I’ve made is to stop buying so many unhealthy foods because if they aren’t readily available in the flat then I can’t eat them. I also take time planning meals in advance and so when I shop, I am ensuring that what I’m buying isn’t going to be wasted. Not only does this give me peace of mind but also saves money!
having a regular sleep schedule
I’m going to be totally honest and say that I haven’t cracked this one yet. Without the routine of a job or university schedule, my sleeping pattern hasn’t been impressive. Getting quality sleep is so important for both the mind and body and the amount needed does vary from person to person. After trial and error, I have learnt that I need a minimum of eight hours and would prefer to avoid waking late. In trying to get back into a steady routine, I am slowly making adjustments over the course of a couple of weeks. I’m hoping that in keeping my alarm the same, even over the weekend, I can stick with it.
Those were some of the things that I am personally trying to make a habit of for self-care. I think the physical adjustments are a lot easier to achieve compared with changes of mentality but I know that continuing to work on them will be worth it.
Practising self-care is not only beneficial to the individual but can extend to others too. The act of caring will become more natural and in feeling good, the support given to others will be more effective I believe.
What do you think?
Don’t be shy – let me know your thoughts in the comments!
There are undoubtedly so many other ways to practise self-care and I would be interested to hear if you have any other ideas. Or maybe you have been doing some that are similar to me and if so, I’d been keen to hear about your progress.