Self-care is so important to all of us. In our world filled with events, work, opportunities and love, it is often difficult to stop, take a step back and recognize that you need a break. I’m definitely the kind of person who will feel guilty for taking a break and not working. I didn’t realize it was a problem until I reached a point of emotional and physical exhaustion where everything was wearing me down. I no longer wanted to do the things I loved before. But I didn’t take it seriously until my mother started to worry. When an African parent says you’re working too hard, you know you’re doing too much. At first, I wasn’t sure how to take a break and relax, so here are some tips for anyone in the position I once was.
One important thing to clarify is that self-care comes in many forms – for some it means applying face masks, painting your nails, or going shopping. But I will talk about physical, mental, spiritual and emotional self-care. And I hope that helps.
1) Learn to recognize that you need to take care of yourself.
I believe in working hard for anything you want to achieve in life. Everything I got or will get in life will depend on my hard work. But an excess of anything is bad and can be detrimental.
I was in such a rut, a toxic habit even, of having to do a certain amount of work every day and if I didn’t I thought I wasn’t working hard enough. This, in the long run, led to me being sick and not being able to sleep. It also meant that I didn’t consider what I was doing and doing pretty well. If you find yourself like me, stop immediately. You need a break and don’t feel guilty, there is a time for everything. A time to work hard and strive for your goals, to be the best version of yourself, and a time to relax, unwind, and have fun.
Read anything: articles, newspapers, publications, tweets, novels. I have found that over the years reading has been an escape for me. A gateway to a new world, a path to the reality of another, the transition to a new school of thought. Reading allows you to absorb another’s truth and create your own. So take a few minutes each day to read a little something.
3) Document your successes, challenges and progress.
This one is interesting because it is often difficult to know where to start. Do you start with your lowest points? Are you going from the past? Or maybe the present? My advice: start somewhere comfortable for you. I think being able to write freely and honestly is a good skill to develop because it avoids illusions. In this world people may not be honest with you and that is why it is even more important to be honest with yourself. You must pursue a life of being who you are, meeting new people, encountering new opportunities, learning new lessons, making mistakes, and constantly growing as an individual. Being honest with yourself is an important starting point, and documenting everything you go through, whether it’s on your phone’s notes app, a word document, or a mental awareness app, over time you lets appreciate how far you’ve come as a person.
4) Celebrate yourself.
Life is hard, and sometimes it sucks. Maybe you’re working very hard on a subject and your teacher doesn’t see it. Or you feel like you’re drifting away from your friends and you don’t click like you used to. Believe me, I’ve been there. Of course, in these kinds of situations, communication with anyone is key. But never forget that you are the priority. And you are amazing. So you have to do something that reminds you of how fantastic you are. Treat yourself to a nice dinner and a movie or go shopping and buy yourself something nice. Only you know what you are going through and your primary concern is to take care of yourself.
It’s good for you. When you smile, your body not only releases endorphins and cortisol (which help improve your sense of well-being and relieve stress), it’s also contagious. You never know, smiling at someone could honestly mean the difference between a good day and a bad day, because you’re making someone else feel loved and important. And that thought alone is enough to make you feel good and smile.
6) Take time to/away from things.
The nature of the world makes it hard to stop, step back, and realize you need a break. But I think the easiest way to realize you need some downtime is when you don’t feel like yourself.
Not feeling like yourself is never a bad thing, if anything, it’s normal. It is just an indication that you are changing, and you should go with the flow. Just as the world evolves, evolve as an individual to be a better you. The easiest thing I can take a break from is social media. As fun as scrolling endlessly on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, social media platforms can be so damaging, especially when you grow as a person. They embed harmful stereotypes in us and make us something we are not. If anything, if you don’t feel like you, social media should be the first to go (for this time). Sometimes you may need to walk away from certain people and that’s fine too. Never let anyone make you feel guilty for taking up their space. If someone really loves you, if you ask for space, they will give it to you. Those who respect you will respect your boundaries.
7) Take walks and start doing yoga.
Yoga is honestly one of my favorite activities. It’s one of the things my mom and I do together. It’s a chance for us to catch up, stretch, and become more physically fit individuals while seeking inner peace and peace with everyone and everything in our lives. If you don’t like yoga, you can try going for walks. My sixth grade director encouraged me to start and I’m so glad she did. There’s a big park behind my house and going out at night when the sun goes down and being one with the eternity of the natural world is the most beautiful thing.
8) Prioritize the good stuff.
Everyone has different priorities, naturally because we are all different people. So if you know you’re dedicated to something, focus on it and make sure you give it your all. I know my priorities are getting the best possible grades, going to college, and making my mom and siblings proud of me, while establishing a platform where I can share my experiences and educate people on subjects that I consider important. Determining your priorities gives you a sense of direction and an incentive to move towards your end goal.
9) Adopt good habits.
This includes hygiene, cleaning your environment and after yourself, healthy eating, exercise, and positive emotional interactions with others. They help you improve as a person, these are extremely important life skills to learn and I find these can be so therapeutic. Take cleaning, for example, you put on your favorite playlist, get a broom and mop, and before you know it, your room/house is clean and you’re in a much better mood.
10) Have confidence in yourself.
If you don’t, how could anyone else? You are the most important person in your life and your world should truly revolve around you. Obviously, don’t be conceited and self-centered by dismissing others and their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, but a little self-love never hurt anyone.
Life is too short for us to spend it not believing in ourselves, not putting our well-being and happiness first, not trying new things, taking risks and making things that make us smile. It may be a bit difficult at first, but it really is a gateway to a better you. That’s all I wish for all of you reading this article, to be the best version of yourself. I hope you will get there. Lots of love.