Basic Self-Care Beyond Face Masks And Bath Bombs

17 Ways To Practice Self-Care When Face Masks And Bath Bombs Aren't Doing The Trick

Sometimes self-care needs to be a little more intensive than a trip to Lush.

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Self-care is a growing trend that seems to mostly consist of bubble baths and face masks. While I certainly love some "me time" and treating myself to my Glossier masks and a Netflix marathon, I think it's important to remember that "treating yourself" is not necessarily the same thing as self-care.

Self-care looks different on everyone, and I'm not here to tell people how they can or can't take time for themselves. I've simply come to realize that as a person with mental illness, sometimes my self-care needs to be a little more intensive and regimented than a trip to Lush.

1. Keep yourself hydrated

It's something small, but drinking an adequate amount of water can dramatically impact your physical and mental wellbeing. Though exact numbers differ, it's commonly recommended that we drink two liters of water per day, or eight 8-ounce glasses. Even if everything else in the world feels too difficult, just try and remember to keep a glass of water near you.

2. Sleep

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is catch up on sleep. Poor mental health can severely disrupt sleeping patterns, so allow yourself time to simply rest. This is something that's personally difficult for me because when I allow myself time to nap, I feel guilty for not doing something more productive. But the fact is that in order to truly be productive, you need to allow your brain and body time to recharge.

3. Practice journaling and reflecting

This may sound cliche, but taking a few minutes out of each day to reflect can help track your mental health progress and patterns. I keep a mood tracker for myself in the back of my planner, and comparing that to my daily reflections can help me identify emotional or environmental patterns that trigger my mental health flare-ups.

4. Go for a walk or a drive

Even when you don't feel like it, it's so important to give yourself time each day to get out of the house. Whether that means taking your dog for a walk or simply driving a few minutes down the road to get a coffee, make it a goal to leave the house at least once a day. This also requires that you be conscious of your personal limits, so never get behind the wheel if you feel like you're a danger to yourself, and always tell a friend or family member if you're going out so someone knows where you are.

5. Read

Reading is a great way to slow down and get out of your head for a little while. TV and movies can do the same thing, but sometimes you need to give your brain a break from screens.

6. Do yoga

Nowadays, you don't even need to head downtown to a yoga studio to squeeze in a good yoga session. Heck, even my Amazon Alexa offers yoga practices. Yoga is a great way to exercise your mind and body, and with so many variations and flows available, there is truly a pace for everyone. I recommend Yoga With Adriene, a free YouTube channel offering numerous yoga practices for LITERALLY everything and anything you may be feeling physically or emotionally, including yoga for depression, yoga for nurses, and yoga for text neck.

7. Make a therapy appointment

I am of the belief that if you have access to therapy, take advantage of it, even if you think you don't need it. If you're already in therapy but haven't gone in a while, schedule an appointment. Making a therapy appointment is the first thing I do on self-care days because I know that even if I don't want to go, my brain could use it.

8. Meditate

Another cliche, but meditation can be incredibly beneficial to people with mental health problems. It's an easy way to slow down, ground yourself, and check in with your mind and body. I have been using the Calm app for a few weeks now and would highly recommend it for meditation beginners. I've found it especially useful for when I'm feeling anxious as it helps ease my racing thoughts and focus on my breathing.

9. Make positive affirmations in the mirror

Sounds cheesy, but just give it a try. Self-care means reminding yourself that you are worth the time and energy it takes to heal, so speak kindly to yourself and remember that your life is worth cherishing.

10. Do a phone detox

It's easy to get wrapped up in the chaos of group texts, social media, overflowing inboxes, and Snap streaks when you're on your phone 24/7. For me, my phone is definitely a crutch I cling to in order to distract myself, and I know that isn't healthy. Allowing yourself a phone detox gives you a chance to come back to the present and focus on your immediate surroundings. The texts and emails can wait, but your mental health can't (just be sure to notify people if you won't have your phone on you for a set period of time).

11. Take time to shower and groom yourself

Face masks and bath bombs can sound boujee when you're in the middle of a depressive episode. Like...no, Karen, a trip to Lush is not going to cure my depression, but thanks for the suggestion. But it is important to maintain your physical wellness because these are often the first things to go when you're feeling mentally drained. It may feel impossible, but make it a goal each day to shower, brush your teeth, and brush your hair, even if that's all you can do some days.

12. Make sure you're getting proper nutrients

When you're feeling mentally unwell, remember to start by fulfilling your physiological hierarchy of needs. Before you can enjoy a spa day or shopping spree, make sure your body is physically capable of carrying you around in the world by eating a nutritional diet and taking any vitamins or supplements you may need.

13. Record advice for yourself for when you have bad mental health days

This takes a little bit of planning in advance, but on good mental health days, try recording yourself giving love and advice to your future self on bad mental health days. It's so easy to get caught up in listening to the negative thoughts about yourself when you're having a mental health flare-up, but those thoughts are lies. Know that good-mental-health you would not lie to bad-mental-health you and keep these videos as a resource for when your negative thoughts become too much to handle.

14. Be honest with the people around you

Sometimes, self-care means letting people know that you are not OK and you need help. Have a circle of people who you can trust to look after you when your mental health takes a turn. Depending on your relationship with the people you work with, this may even mean sitting down with your boss to discuss what you need when you aren't feeling well or having a coworker you can reach out to who can help you with your workload.

15. Clean your living space

Your environment has a huge impact on your emotional wellbeing. Your physical living space is an embodiment of your mind, so if your room is dirty and cluttered, you're not doing your brain any favors. Try cleaning your sheets, cleaning out your closet, and working more light into your room.

16. Make a doctor's appointment

If you have the resources, try scheduling an appointment to check in with your doctor, especially if you're more than a few years overdue for a physical. You may hate it, but it really is important to keep up with your health. A trip the doctor can help pinpoint certain things that may be affecting your mental wellbeing, as well as help you get on the right medications and supplements for your brain and body.

17. Allow yourself to be broken, but don't let yourself stay that way

It's OK to not be OK. You're allowed to break down, spend the day in bed, and let yourself be a little broken. What isn't OK is letting yourself stay that way for too long. Know when it's time to reach out for help and remind yourself that you owe yourself the chance to get better. You are worth it.

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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The Lazy Girl's Guide To The Gym

Also, everything else you should know if you're a slightly out-of-shape girl (like me).

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With my freshman year coming to an end, I realized a lot of things. I made new friends, I found new hobbies, and I learned a lot of lessons. One of them being that the "Freshman 15" is very real and very scary.

While my friends and family have attempted multiple times to convince me that I'm just being dramatic (I am), I still want to make a change in my lifestyle or I will, in all seriousness, be on track to the "Sophomore 20".

Here is a list of my best gym and healthy lifestyle tips that I am slowly attempting to live by this summer in order to resurrect Emily's 18-year-old body and health.

1. Increase water intake.

2. Find a gym buddy.

3. Start off with cardio.

4. Don't stop on your cardio until you're dripping in sweat.

5. Chug a LOT of water an hour before the gym.

Do not do it right before, or you will be in pain.

6. Eat light beforehand but just enough to hold you over. 

7. Plan out what your routine will be BEFORE you get there.

My routine: Elliptical for a mile, Stairmaster for 10 minutes, ab HIIT workout for 10 minutes, 5 more minutes on Stairmaster.

8. Buy healthy foods while you're feeling motivated.

9. Find a gym that isn't too far from your house. 

10. Don't get mad at yourself if you don't see results in a day.

I know this is a hard one.

11. Try fitness classes. 

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