If you work in the communications field, you understand the extreme value placed on a steady output of anything and everything related to your role. There’s the necessity for going above and beyond and always being on. It’s no wonder we’re all stressed, sleepless, and heavily-caffeinated. This is why I’m such a strong advocate for mental health, also known to me as self-care.
Repeat after me: Self-care isn’t selfish.
Self-care is fitting in a nap. It’s treating yourself to an expensive present when you launch a campaign at work. It’s building a 10-step skincare routine — OK, maybe that’s just me. Self-care manifests differently for each individual, which is what makes it so magical. I’ve found extreme comfort and clarity in building routines that require me to focus on myself. What’s more, I’ve eliminated the guilt of spending time doing this.
In honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10th, I’m doing my part to breakdown the stigma of mental health and talk about how I take care of myself. For me, this is self-care. Over the past few years, my focus on self-care has become a bona fide hobby.
Jokes aside, self-care saved my life. Two years ago, my mother passed away. She was my best friend and soulmate. Through the trauma of my mom’s decline and passing, I clung to self-care routines to get through the days when I could hardly see straight.
I work full-time in a demanding and wonderfully rewarding communications role, act as a director of a 501c3 nonprofit small animal rescue, dabble in freelance writing, and try to have a social life. I couldn’t do any of this without my self-care routine.
If you want to prioritize self-care like me, here’s what I do to get by each day:
1. Become BFFs with sleep
Sleep is my favorite medicine. The only being who loves naps as much as I do is my cat. I know you’re busy, but sleep can do amazing things for you. Research shows that naps can improve performance in areas such as reaction time, logical reasoning and symbol recognition. I want to challenge you to set aside time for a nap. Even if it’s just 15 minutes of resting your eyes.
2. Be still
Sit, stand, I don’t care — just embrace stillness for five minutes. When I’m in motion, I’m really in motion. I’m creating content, sending emails, replying to Instagram direct messages, and the list goes on. Once a day, I find time just to be still and think. Sometimes this involves sorting out my grocery list in my head or sifting through my favorite moments in the day. I usually do this while wearing a face mask.
3. Dabble in skincare
Those who follow me on Instagram have seen me doing my best Michael Myers impression while wearing a sheet mask. Focusing on what makes my skin happy and healthy has become a full-time hobby for me. It started with researching and finding the best products to treat myself to and has quickly become an essential part of my day. Even on my busiest days, where I want to fall into bed, I still come home and do my 10-step skincare routine.
Adding a bit of skincare love to your life is as simple as picking up a sheet mask from Target! This will give you 20-minutes of time to just sit.
4. Podcast to your heart’s content
Listening to podcasts (and audiobooks!) has provided me a daily escape. Podcasts are a perfect way to make time for your interests without seriously sacrificing other things. They’re easy to turn on when doing simple tasks like cooking, cleaning, and even some types of work. Some of my favorite podcasts include The Daily, Natch Beaut, anything from NPR and its affiliates, and any and all true crime.
5. Explore your curiosities
Paint, write, knit, dance — get inspired to do something you love. It’s so easy to get busy and forget about all of the little things you may be curious about. Sign up for that ballet class, learn how to knit, take up watercoloring — you’re worth it. Exploring your curiosities can be especially helpful if you work in a creative field.
6. Say no
While everyone is having their year of yes, I’m having a year of no. Would you rather take a nap than go to the bar? Do it. Don’t want to spend the money to go to that mediocre comedy show? Cancel plans. Sure, it can be uncomfortable and feel a bit mean. But saying no and prioritizing yourself and what you want feels really awesome in the long-term. It also helps you tune into what your body and mind really want to do!
One tip for an easy transition into saying no more often is blocking out certain days or evenings of the week to avoid making plans. For example, I rarely do anything on Friday evenings because I’m usually too tired from the workweek. It’s an easy no!
7. Move your body
You don’t need a regimented workout routine to dedicate some time each day to move your body. I’m the type of person that can melt mindlessly into a couch when stress hits and I have a moment to relax. I’ve found that getting up and going for a walk or lifting weights keeps me so much mentally healthier. I’ve also felt far less guilt while having the simple goal of moving my body once a day, rather than trying to keep the promise of a daily hour-long gym session to myself.
8. Get hygge
Cold weather is on its way for those living in places with four seasons. As much as I dread the Michigan snowfall, I absolutely love being cozy. Enter hygge, a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.
Hygge has become a recent cultural phenomenon. It’s all about embracing the cozy comforts of the indoors. For instance, it could be settling in with a book after making French Press coffee with fresh ground beans on a snowy day. Embrace coziness when possible, and settle into some of the other self-care rituals you create!
There are so many ways to focus on taking better care of yourself. I also strongly recommend seeing a therapist, if you have the means. They will become your ally and aide you when times get dark.