Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and social media was abuzz with hashtags, conversations and motivational memes on the subject.
With my hyper-active brain, neverending list of projects to get stuck into, reliance on lists to keep some semblance of order in my life, whacky sleeping pattern and a bunch of other quirks you all associate with my kookiness, I often get run down. Like last week, which put publishing this post on hold until today. Kinda ironic.
But now, I’m feeling brighter and more on top of everything, I’m going to take a bit of time and run through my self care routine.
Self care is something I started intentionally practicing about eight months ago. Far from a social media soundbite and tool to get more love on Insta, this has become a necessary part of my health routine and often saves me from slipping down the rabbit hole and ending up in a dark spiral leading to exhaustion.
The usual candidates in a self care checklist do exist on mine – a decent amount of sleep, an abundance of vegetables (I love making myself a Greek-inspired mezze platter of raw peppers, olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and a variety of dips when I feel depleted and in need of a clean, fresh boost to the system) and an indulgent shower or bath.
Some of my other self care activities are maybe slightly more obscure, but important to me nonetheless.
Firstly, I cut my nails. It’s a chore I am forever pushing down on the to do list until my poor nails can take no more and snap painfully close to the nail bed. So, when life is starting to get on top of me, I make sure to spend some quality time giving myself a speedy mani.
Usually just cutting them down, a quick file and a thirst-quenching moisturiser. One of my nervous ticks is picking at the skin on my fingers, but pretty nail polish is a great incentive for me to leave the poor skin alone.
This self care technique requires enough concentration to distract me momentarily from any outside stresses and is a productive use of time so I don’t feel guilty for procrastinating from the ironing pile. Double win.
I also write. It might be teen angst inspired, embarrassing awful poetry, a to do list or an overview of what I’ve done that day.
As my blog posts indicate, I’m a good rambler. I purge my thoughts until I cry, sigh or reach some other state of release. It’s incredibly important for me to get my thoughts and feelings out in the world by writing or typing away until I have fully purged.
Usually I reach a solution by writing, or can reach a place where my rational side negotiates my emotional mess down from teetering on the edge.
Another self care love of mine is colouring in.
While my doodles don’t tend to end as violently as Deadpool’s, I do own 5 adult colouring books, 3 sets of colouring pencils and a steadfast opposition to venturing outside the lines.
Snuggle puddles are also a total self care necessity.
Teddy (original, I know) and Piglet have been with me since birth, Alaska Bear was a slightly later addition.
Bunny, Toothless and Rocky flopping after a long day of whatever it is toys do.
I am currently sharing my bed with 9 teddies of all shapes, sizes and animal types. Some are as old as me, others are more recent additions. All are equally adored.
Apart from my raccoon, Rocky, who has been through the best times and the worst times with me. A dear friend of mine who understood my trash panda obsession gave me him when I was 16 and have rarely gone a night without him in my bed ever since. He even comes with me to my boyfriend’s sometimes.
Rocky and a lizard friend he made at Tam’s, along with Mr Fox and an equally foxy hot water bottle.
This bunch of cute and cuddlies are the perfect counter-offer to human contact, when I just want to be left alone but am in dire need of affection. They are the real deal.
Sidenote shout out to my boyfriend who makes a great substitute to the snuggle puddle on nights that I do want human contact. That boy is a hot water bottle load of snug – seriously, his body temp runs higher than most saunas.
Finally, the most important ritual of my self care routine is self-acceptance.
I often find myself buried under a mountain of guilt, frustration and a slew of other negative feelings when I start to get run down and feel low.
Reminding myself that the low point isn’t going to last forever and that the world will not end if I can’t make myself smile once that day is really important.
As a perfectionist, I get caught up in my own head, obsessing over everything, especially my perceived shortcomings and what I think others expect of me. I take this time to acknowledge that I’m not feeling 100% and realise what I expect of myself.
Whether that’s getting myself into the shower, socialising or just enjoying my own company; it’s a vital exercise I need to keep myself feeling more grounded and less like the world is slipping through my fingers.
Self care is exactly that – for yourself. You might read my list and scoff. You might run or bake or cry or knit or host a dinner party as part of your self care. Those are all legitimate forms of looking after yourself.
We all have different aspects of ourselves that need a little more attention than others. Recognising, accepting and acting on those needs are what keep us happy, healthy and able to live our best lives.
Look after yourself, you deserve it.