Hello! We’re super happy you’re here to talk about self-care with us. Pour your drink of choice, and let’s get started!
What tips you off that it might be time for some self-care?
Honestly, I am so bad at preventing burnout. I’m definitely the type of person who has to be doing a million things, or I’ll stress about being an unproductive human. For a long time, the big hint that I needed to take some me-time was when I had burnout and turned into a mushy potato for days. I would be tired and stressed and have zero energy. I’m getting better at this, though, because honestly the burnout time was longer and more stressful than taking the me-time every once in a while.
Now, I look for signs of stress, like feeling tired, having sore and achy muscles, and getting more emotional (as in crying over having to use a plastic straw because I forgot my reusable one or debating my first homicide because someone bumped into me on the subway). Those are usually the signs it’s time to take a nap, have a facial, or do some yoga and meditation with aromatherapy oils and a lot of candles.
To start off and be completely honest, I am chronically ill. I have a neurological pain condition along with chronic migraines and a few other physical ailments. So I can always use some self care!
I naturally try to monitor my body. How is my pain level? What hurts, and how can I relieve that pain? Do I need to rest or tackle my daily activities in a new way? Have I been overworking my body?
I’m naturally optimistic and I try very hard to stay that way, but I can become depressed and lethargic very easily as well. So I try to monitor my mind and my emotions the same as I do my body. How long has this bad mindset been lasting? Have I been sleeping and eating enough? Maybe if I just take some me-time, I’ll be okay.
I tend to lose track of time pretty easily, so something typically has to happen for me to be like, “Oh yeah, self-care!” Raspberry and Pineapple asking me if I’ve had any water that day and me rapidly changing the subject, for example. Another indicator is when the habit tracker on my Bible app gets reset to zero. I try to start my day with that, so if I’ve missed a day, that means I didn’t start the day—which means I didn’t end the previous day—which means I probably haven’t slept in over a day. Which is a big oops.
If things are going extra poorly, it might take migraines, tears, or missed deadlines for me to notice that I’ve been neglecting myself. But those are the extremes. I try not to let it get to that point.
What is your go-to self-care routine? Or does it depend?
It depends! If I am feeling stressed at work or with my studies, it helps me to do some creative writing. I can either journal about my emotional and mental state (and then burn it because no one else can see that, obviously), or I work on one of my many writing projects. Do I sometimes name characters after people who I don’t like and then kill off the characters? Yes, it’s called self-care, darling. But if I’m stressed about writing, then writing’s the last thing I want to do.
Then, I take a long hot shower, do some yoga to get my body working, and stress text Apple and Pineapple. The best self-care is talking to the people who understand me and support me no matter what. It does more to relieve my stress than almost anything else! Though killing off characters is still top tier self-care.
Learning to love yourself and take care of yourself is a process for everyone, so sometimes the time I take is different, and the process definitely depends.
I have a heating pad with aromatherapy herbs in it that I use almost every day. I love a long shower and a face mask. Sometimes, sleep is the best medicine for me. Other times, I just need to sit myself down and make a list or write to clear my head.
For me, it’s all about easing the pain so I can recover more easily, not trying to force myself to recover faster.
I think it depends on my stress level. A Level One situation might mean I take a small break: maybe chat with my sister or grab a snack. I also have a bookmarks folder on my laptop titled “Dopamine.” It’s just a bunch of short things that make me happy, so I can spark joy without getting too distracted and derailing my productivity.
Level Two involves drinking water and checking to see if I’ve eaten anything of real nutritional value in the past eight hours. I’ll also clean my workspace and tackle my laundry.
At Level Three, I’ve probably had to check out of the land of the living. Text messages, emails, phone calls, social media? I don’t know them. I am sleeping. Unless I have too many thoughts going on; then I’m reading a whole book or watching an entire series in one sitting. Just full escapism.
Once I’ve gotten a bit of rest and distance from everything, I try to figure out what went wrong. I might overshare with my sister or friends to process (and somehow they still love me anyway). After that, I come up with action steps, like “set realistic goals,” “speak up for myself,” or the dreaded “please, please, just ask for help.”
What are some tips you have for self-care?
I think self-care is different for everyone. The most important thing is finding out what works for you, not what others tell you is a destressor. I love doing yoga, but I know people who see it as a chore. Thus, it’s stressful and the opposite of what self-care is trying to achieve.
In a perfect world, we’d all have time to “indulge” in self-care every day. With me, I’m lucky if I can have some me-time once a week. It’s important to set aside time for yourself and to do something you find truly relaxing and revitalizing.
Understand that taking care of yourself is a process, and everything is cyclical. There are bad days and there are good days, so when you have a bad day, you have to be extra gentle with yourself. Sometimes you just have to feel your feels before you can get better; don’t be afraid of that.
Preventative self-care! Don’t burn out and then self-care—self-care so you don’t burn out. At least, that’s what I’m working up to. I’m not quite there yet, so what I do in the meantime is prep for the times I do burn out. Like, I keep easy, nonperishable food around because I know, when burnout hits, my energy to cook is one of the first things to go. Acknowledge your weaknesses. (We all have them; it’s okay!) Then meet yourself where you’re at.
What does self-care mean to you?
Usually, when I talk about self-care, I’m talking about taking the time to do something that will re-energize me and make me feel better (i.e. less stressed and drained). Self-care is what prevents burnout and what takes me out of my busy schedule and reminds me that I need to take care of my body. Whether that’s exercising to help my body, writing to help the creativity flow, or eating a tub of ice cream to help my emotions, self-care is something that restores me in some way. It’s time for me to take a step back from my long list of things to do and remind myself to breathe and stay in the moment.
I read once that it’s about making healthy decisions for yourself. Some days it feels like it’s deciding between taking my meds and brushing my teeth—I’ve learned it’s always better to take my meds. It’s forcing myself to take a shower and change my clothes when I really don’t want to. (Trust me on this one; you’ll feel so much better.)
Self-care isn’t just my days off from work or the long showers and face masks, it’s also choosing to talk to my doctors, asking for help when I need it, and staying mindful.
I used to have this idea that self-care was spoiling myself, but now I think it’s paying attention to myself. Am I tired? Hungry? Stressing out? Getting sick? Then I shouldn’t ignore that. Respecting my physical and mental health is definitely not selfish.
Thanks for stopping by!
We could all use a little self-care. Let us know what works best for you in a comment below!