Join Me In Redefining What 'Self-Care' Really Means

Join Me In Redefining What 'Self-Care' Really Means

True self-care is important and should be maintained daily and with purpose in order to be effective. Here are some ways to prioritize and maintain your mental and physical health during your busy life.
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During winter break, with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays and family reunion, it is very important to slow down our busy lives and take time for ourselves. Self-care is defined by Dictionary.com as “care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.”

However, shouldn’t self-care reach beyond the physical aspects of picking up some over-the-counter drugs, putting on a face mask, going on a shopping spree, or taking a bubble bath? Shouldn’t the effects of self-care last longer than the physical acts of relaxation done on your days off? With a so much emphasis in today’s fast-paced society on reaching one’s “full potential,” it is alarming that the importance of self-care is often brushed under the rug.

True self-care is important and should be maintained daily and with purpose in order to be effective. Here are some ways to prioritize and maintain your mental and physical health during your busy life.

1. Write in a journal.

Take time for yourself to reflect and write about your life. While leading such busy lives, time can seem to go by so fast. Take time to slow down and reflect on your day. This can be as simple as a few sentences. Not everything needs to be shared and documented on social media for everyone to see. Sometimes it is important to sit back and write about your daily happenings without an audience.

2. Be OK with being alone.

Doing things alone allows you time to think and reflect. When constantly surrounded by others, it is so easy to get sucked into the “groupthink” mentality. So take yourself out to dinner, people watch at the local coffee shop, go on a walk, close the door and be OK with just being alone.

3. Set goals and rewards.

Set short and long-term realistic goals and rewards for yourself when you reach them. A big part of self-care is helping yourself reach your full potential and appreciate the work and effort you put in, even if others don't.

4. Cut out toxic people.

You become the company you keep. Putting energy into toxic people will end up hurting you. Choose to spend time with people who build you up, not break you down. You deserve better.

5. Realize when you need a break.

We’ve all been there. Feeling completely worn out; burnt out on our daily lives. This is the time when self-care is the most important. Listen to yourself and trust yourself when you aren’t happy in a situation. Take time to regroup and reassess. Doing something that you aren’t excited or passionate about is not worth the trouble.

Cover Image Credit: Julianna Merry

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Yet Found Herself, Keep Looking

You will eventually find her in all the right places, I promise.

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They say you are supposed to go through your awkward transition phase during middle school, but you still feel like you haven't quite figured it out. They say you are supposed to join a club in order to "find yourself", but then you end up sitting in the back watching everyone laugh and catch up. You feel out of place--like you're existing somewhere you just don't belong. Let me be the voice telling you that you are exactly where you are meant to be right now. Every decision you've ever made has led you to this place. This is, of course, much harder to grasp than to just say. Really though, you're doing just fine!

Finding out the things you don't like to do are just important as discovering your passions when it comes to finding your true self. Don't be afraid to join that club, talk to the girl next to you in class, and explore your interests. You might hate it. You might want to run away, but at least you're learning about yourself and where your comfort zone lies. Finding yourself is a life long process, so don't expect an Aha! moment where you have finally hit your destination. Think of it more as a sense of confidence of comfortability in who you are and what you stand for.

Stepping away from friends and family for some time may also lead you to who you are. Often, we grow up and mature only to have the same beliefs, morals, and political opinions as our parents. It's not our fault and we aren't childish, we just trust our parent's judgment and see their conscience as nothing but truth. Part of gaining independence is questioning your own biased beliefs and reevaluating them so they reflect your character better. Same goes with friends. Try to spend a Friday night in with yourself. See what you do. Do you watch a movie? Do you catch up on homework? Do you paint your nails? What is it that makes you feel happy when nobody else is around? By considering the answer to this question, you're one step closer to figuring this whole life thing out.

You may also want to try stepping away from your phone. Your social media (this shouldn't come as a surprise) is giving you the false idea that everyone around you knows exactly what they're doing and enjoys doing it all. Not true. So not true actually, everyone else is struggling to find out just who they are. You and your phone need some distance.

Finding yourself doesn't just happen. You need to explore the world around you and you'll eventually find out where your place is. Be patient with the process and know the right steps will surface when you're ready to take them. Be kind to yourself and have the bravery to discover the girl inside you (I hear she's really cool).

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