Jacket: Urban Outfitters | Tee: Anine Bing | Jeans: BDG | Shoes: Gucci | Bag: Chloe
The idea of self-care has been at the forefront of a lot of media, blogs and used as a marketing concept for quite a while now. I've seen blog post after article after top-tips-guide about what self-care means, the things you should be doing and how they handle their own mental health. While, I do think it's a great idea as being more active with acknowledging ones mental health can only be a step in the right direction, these self-care ponderings can, at times, make you feel like you had less of your shit together than you once thought.
A lot of articles I've read seem to lean towards the same things - having a bath, reading a book, lighting a candle or the gets-up-at-6am-girl-boss version which is drinking a green smoothie, doing yoga and chanting positive affirmations until you feel better (whatever that means). The majority either seem girly-as-hell or make you feel a bit rubbish because you slept in until 10am and didn't inhale some kale.
One size certainly doesn't fit all when it comes to self-care and looking after your own mind. Of course, there's an element of cheering yourself up, checking in with your own brain and assessing what you really need, but I also feel like in the effort to 'help' people, a lot of what I've read often comes across as patronising and encourages people to bury their head in the sand rather than addressing what's really causing the mental anguish.
I'm all for having a day (an hour, ten minutes, whatever time you have is better than nothing) carved out just for you, but a throwing some bubbles into your bath isn't always going to solve an issue you may be facing. It can make everything seem ok at the time, but the biggest part of self-care (I think) is acknowledging your emotions and why you need to take this particular time for yourself. It can be as a simple as 'because I want to' all the way up to, well, anything really, but thinking about this before taking the time out always helps me feel better by the end of it.
But hey, that's just my opinion and how I do things and now I'm going to run you through the ways I do 'self-care' and what it means to me.
Emotions and Getting Shit Done
I find the biggest way to assess what type of self-care I need is to be in check with my emotions. Am I genuinely feeling like I need this space for xyz reasons or am I projecting my emotions from something else? Do I need to get something serious off my chest? Do I just need to talk about it with someone? Why has xyz made me feel this way?
I know I always have problems when I've been putting something off and I don't want to face it, so I bury my head in the sand until it manifests itself as feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
It's important to me to spend some time reminding myself that everything is temporary - including the way I'm feeling now - so deciding what I want to devote my emotional strength towards is key for me.
Self-care can be addressing these issues. It doesn't always have to be doing something physical like curling up on the sofa with a book, it can be getting shit done and removing baggage so you prevent (or at least diminish) any negative mental feelings in the future.
Mental, Emotional and Physical Comfort
This a bit of a weird one as the concept of comfort can mean different things to different people, but I try and think about it as a three sided idea. My favourite form of self-care comes from being physically comfortable - usually under a blanket or in pjs or how I feel after a hot shower - and focusing on this makes me feel mentally much better.
Reassuring myself that I'm in a reasonably secure position in life and nothing is 'wrong' is a great form of comfort, too. There's a roof over my head and food in the fridge. I've got family and friends, a lovely boyfriend and two excellent kittens which is all very important to me.
Food and water makes probably the biggest difference to my mental state, if I'm honest. When I don't get enough water, my brain feels physically foggy and I can't concentrate on anything. When I live on sugar for the day, my mood goes from content to snappy which isn't how I want to be. I've become very good at recognising when the above is negatively impacting my mental state, so I try my best to stop it in its tracks as soon as possible.
I'll grab a pint of water (usually drink half straight away) then I'll make myself something more nourishing, even if it's something as simple as a bowl of porridge. This stops me relying on things that make my mood go all over the place.
Alternatively, I order a massive takeaway and be done with it.
Fresh Air and Movement
As much as I don't think exercise is the key to every aspect of mental health, there's a lot to be said for getting some fresh air. Even if this is just standing by your door or walking to the supermarket. Having a 10 minute stretch works wonders too, especially when you sit down all day.
Self-care to me is taking care of the little parts of my appearance or doing some aspects of a beauty routine that I know makes me feel good. My little monthly treat is getting my brows waxed and tinted at Benefit, so I love to keep this up as having neat brows definitely impacts how I see myself. The other thing is my nails, as I do my own manicures and hate having them chipped - a fresh coat of paint goes a long way!
I would encourage every person who is reading this to figure out what self-care means to them, beyond switching your phone off or getting an early night. How do you look after your mental health daily? This year I'm really focusing on this, as I'm struggling with it at the moment due to my house being a mess. I have zero separation between work and leisure and it's starting to negatively impact me, so I'm trying hard to remember it's temporary and soon I'll have the space back so my brain feels less claustrophobic.
One final note is that self-care can vary so much per person and no way of dealing with it is better than the next. Remember that you're not alone, too, and if the self-care days aren't helping enough, talk to someone (talk to me, I love being an agony aunt). The above are just ways that I practice looking after myself, but whatever makes you feel good and isn't causing any harm - do it!