What's first comes to mind when you hear the words "self-care"? If it's photos of glamorous celebrities, showing off their fluffy white robes, while wearing a face mask and holding an expensive bath bomb, you're not alone.
Recently, self-care has become so trendy that posting videos of your bath bomb dissolving into water or showing off your freaky new face mask look receives praise and increases your social media likes exponentially.
It's hard not to feel slightly deflated if you're unable to practice self-care in a way that's been so glorified and saturated all over social media. To start, self-care doesn't have to be expensive, and if the price stresses you out, it's doing the opposite of its intention. There are a lot of different ways that you can take care of yourself and are little self-care practices that you can do every day that aren't quite as glamorous or Instagramable. And that's okay.
Self-care has helped me do more than simply exist in the chaos that is NYC and life as a full-time graduate student. I want to emphasize that like many other skills, self-care is a practice and takes time to get the hang of, and therefore it is important not to be too hard on yourself while you're just starting out.
Self-care looks different for everyone. It's about nourishing yourself throughout the day—both physically and emotionally. This helps me feel less burnt out, more energized, and more able to do everything that I need to do. I often feel anxious, drained, and irritable when I haven't engaged in enough self-care. In these times, it's glaringly obvious to me that I need to make myself more of a priority and slow down, even just briefly.
As someone who struggles with mental health, it is important that I prioritize my well-being and take care of myself. I've done the "too busy to slow down, never stop, never take care of yourself" thing before, and spoiler alert-- it doesn't end well. By not actively engaging in self-care, I'm passively hurting my mental health.
There are a number of simple things I do for self-care that do wonders for me. This means remembering to take my medication every day, morning and evening, even when I'm in a rush. It means that I always make sure I'm eating consistently throughout the day and that I drink lots of water. It means that sometimes I need to say "no" to plans so that I have time to rest and recharge. It also means setting boundaries in my relationships and working on my communication with others. And sometimes, it can be as simple as taking extra time when I get home at night to take off my makeup with a face wash that smells good instead of using a makeup wipe.
I encourage you to find a self-care routine that not only feels accessible and simple to do but something that's unique to you. That could mean that you decide to spend a little extra time in the morning making yourself a cup of tea and reading or going for a run, or painting. The point is, self-care is necessary and unique to each individual person. I've noticed that my mental health has improved and I've felt happier as I engage in self-care. It takes time to find the right balance, and again, that's okay, but you'll never know what will work and make you feel great if you don't try. It's important that we take care of ourselves for all of the time that we have here in this world.