Self-care is one of the most important concepts in keeping our minds happy and productive, but I feel that many of its most essential components are often overlooked. It isn't just about practicing healthy habits, keeping up good hygiene and then incorporating the occasional "treat yo-self." Self-care means that you feed your imagination, indulge your interests and curiositites, and keep your mind open to the breadth of knowledge and experience that wants to fulfill it. You can do this in a variety of ways.
1. Keep a (creative) journal
Not just any journal, however. This journal shouldn't be one that merely serves as an outlet to rant about a tough day or write your deepest secrets. While, yes, those are important things to utilize a journal for, it should also be open for more. You should allow your journal to feed and cultivate your creative juices. Draw abstract pictures, write new thoughts and contemplate your perceptions of our universe!
2. Feed your adventurous nature
Its easy for one to claim that staying on top of all our responsibilities is self-care. However, when the monotony of day to day life begins to dull your mind and deprive you of optimal living, you are neglecting a very important part of the human spirit. So, take a break from school or work, and go on an adventure. Explore a new place or take a risk doing something new. The possibilities are, in fact, endless.
3. Remind yourself of who you are
While keeping positive reminders may seem cliche, its important that we never lose sight of who we are and what we're capable of when life begins to wear away at our confidence. You can do this by setting reminders in your phone, putting post-it notes on your mirror, or just having a stash of positive reinforcement letters to reference when you need it most.
4. Keep lists
While this may not seem like a self-care method per-say, keeping lists is not only a fantastic way to keep track of what you need to get done and to keep yourself sane, but it is a great tool in reminding you of what you have done and allowing you to keep record of your accomplishments as they're completed. Even when it hasn't been the best day, if you can cross a few things off of your list, you can relish in that little sense of achievement, and gain some inspiration.
5. Spend time alone, but not too much
Although me-time is important, sometimes we get caught up in it and begin to isolate ourselves. While we each have varying levels of introversion and extroversion to our character, genuine human interaction and connection is essential to our well-being. Make sure that even in the midst of a chaotic day, that you can make the time to talk with someone that'll add something special to your day.
6. Make sure you have constants
There's absolutely nothing worse than having a bad day and realizing you have nothing to turn to or fall back on for consolation or reassurance. To ensure that you're never left feeling bereft of this comfort, find something that you know always brings you back to a serene or happy mental place. Whether you make your room your personal sanctuary to decompress, you enjoy painting to relieve stress, or you have a few close friends or relatives you can count on regardless of the circumstances, make sure you have these consistencies in your life.
7. Think, think, think!
I know this may seem obvious, but it really isn't. The type of thinking we're absorbed in on a day to day basis is contrived, as its normally for school, work, or something else beyond our own discretion. I would implore people to take time out of their day, even if it is only 15-20 minutes, and just think. I find this request scares some because many believe it requires a thorough and difficult wracking of the brain for some difficult idea to grapple with or contemplate, but in reality, it requires very little mental strain. To think in the sense that cares for the soul is to acknowledge your thoughts are out of your control, and become consciously aware of the path your thoughts take, but do little effort to direct them. Allowing your brain to take you where it wants to go, while becoming peacefully aware of the course it travels may take some getting used to, but is vital to checking in with yourself, essentially, and truly knowing yourself, and thus caring for yourself to the best of your abilities.