I started this blog because I really wanted an outlet to discuss self-care and self love, two things I struggle with and I know I’m not alone. But what is self-care? I’m no expert and am not pretending to be. I’m just a normal girl, going through life, and trying to figure out the best ways to deal with it all: work, relationships, family, etc. Even when I find new outlets for releasing stress or giving myself a mental health break, they don’t always work. I have good days and bad days, ups and downs. Sometimes, I can’t pinpoint what is dragging me down or depleting my motivation for the day. Other days, I completely surprise myself with how much I can accomplish.
For me, the basis of self-care starts with being able to read your body and mind and listening to them when they are asking for help. Of course, life gets in the way and there are only so many
mental health sick days you can take from work. Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to have a career you enjoy (more on this to come). So maybe work isn’t a stressor for you. Or maybe it is. Either way, there can still be full days or periods of the day where you just CAN’T anymore.
I plan to explore lots of different things that I do to manage my stress and anxiety (other than taking Xanax) through this blog, but I have some general tips I’d like to share that can be used in almost any situation.
- Listen to music or a podcast. If I’m driving to work or sitting at my desk, I will often put on a favorite album or podcast. One of my biggest issues that comes along with anxiety is overthinking. Sometimes, I just don’t know how to shut my brain off. I have a long commute to work and if I don’t distract myself by singing along to my favorite Fleetwood Mac song or recapping The Real Housewives with the Bitch Sesh podcast, my whole day will be ruined because I won’t be able to stop myself from thinking (and overthinking) about everything going on in my life. There are times where I enjoy the peace and quiet and I often find myself driving home from work in silence. However, I can definitely tell the toll this takes on me mentally and emotionally. By the time I get home, I will be in a bad mood and feel extra cranky because I was allowing myself to sit and reflect on some not-so-great things. One could argue that thinking about your issues or stressors and subsequently making mental plans on how to deal with these stressors in the future is a good thing. I would agree. However, when reflecting is something you do at ease, and often do too much of, there comes a time when you need to say no more! Also, because of the way I see reflecting affecting my mood, it is definitely something I need to limit.
2. Watching a movie/TV. I love TV. I don’t care how bad it is for me or how it could possibly affect my sleep, blah blah blah. I can’t understand people who don’t have TVs in their house or bedroom. Good for you, but it’s not for me. I live for my TV time and I am a huge reality TV and horror movie junkie. There’s just something about the drama of reality TV and the murder of the horror genre that sets my soul on fire! This might make me sound like a psychopath, but these genres of TV and film wouldn’t exist if people didn’t love them as much as I do. My favorite current reality show is probably Vanderpump Rules (I have a real problem with labeling things as “favorite” because it changes so often) and as far as horror movies go, I’m down to watch anything and everything–from classic, well-reviewed movies like Suspiria to fun slashers like Scream to 80’s horror cult classics like Sleepaway Camp, I’m here for it all. These are the forms of entertainment that bring me the most joy. When I’m having a rough day or just enjoying a lazy Sunday at home, you can guarantee I will be watching reality TV or a horror movie. It’s standard practice in my home and thankfully my husband is as big of a fan as I am.
3. Cleaning. Okay, before you start rolling your eyes or thinking I’m crazy, hear me out. I hate cleaning. It’s the worst. Cleaning your shower, doing laundry, washing the dishes–it’s all bad. I am a proud owner of a Roomba. It’s something I have asked for for years, even before I had my own apartment. It was my bridal shower gift from my bridesmaids and I don’t think anyone has ever been happier to be gifted one. It is lazy cleaning at its finest. You press a button and a robot picks up all the cat hair, food crumbs, and random crap that ends up on your floor. Sometimes, I’m too lazy to even empty it. No one wants to spend their free time cleaning, least of all me. However, there is something about getting the physical appearance of your home in order that makes you feel better about your emotional and mental health. I think it’s a control thing. My anxiety and stress stem from things I can’t control. So this might not be an issue for you. But, I feel that all anxiety comes from a place of control in one way or another. If I can’t control my stressors, then at least I can get my house in order. There are some days this works like a charm. Not only do I end the day with a clean home, but it makes me feel incredibly accomplished. If you’re anything like me, your anxiety can make you feel that you are failing at everything in life. It brings you down to a place that can make you feel really crappy about yourself. In those times, I find myself instinctively tidying up.
4. Doing a face mask. This one is a classic. I’ve often found myself believing that a face mask would cure all my problems, but of course, it will not. What it does do is give you a good 15-20 minutes of quiet time to lay on your couch or in your bed and let that mask get to work. Your skin feels great afterward and it’s like a mini spa trip (but much less expensive). Sometimes, I’ll take it a step further and do a hair mask and pedicure. It all depends on how much time I have and how ambitious I am feeling. Yes, I have to feel ambitious to do a pedicure. That shit takes time and precision.
5. Accept it. This is a tough one to talk about because it’s the hardest for me to do, but I’m getting better at it every day. Recently I got to a point where I just have to say “fuck it!” and move on. I’m not perfect; I have bad days; I have days where I don’t move from the couch, days where I drink to cope, days where I cry a lot for seemingly no reason, days when I throw the first four tips out the window and just sulk. Sometimes, that works as well as anything else. Anxiety already has a way of bringing you down, stopping you from living your life, from leaving your home, from enjoying any occassion. Sometimes, giving in is the best medicine. Say “fuck it,” I’m not feeling good today and that’s okay. I think I have spent so many years trying to pretend my anxiety didn’t control my life as much as it did and trying anything and everything that would make me feel “normal.” But the truth is, my anxiety exists and it may never go away. Accepting your anxiety as a part of your life may be the single best thing you can do to ease your anxiety. I have anxiety about my anxiety. I never know when it’s going to flare up or ruin my day and sometimes I can cause my anxiety to get worse just by preparing for it to get worse. The less I try to fight it on a day-to-day level, the easier it is to roll with the punches.
Self-care is whatever you need it to be. It’s whatever makes you happy. These are just a few of the things that I have found will work for me. Like I said, though, there are still some days where nothing seems to work and I think that’s just how my anxiety manifests itself. I’m interested in hearing about other tips for managing anxiety because a new thing I’m trying is opening up about my anxiety. But I don’t know how well that’s going to work yet. So put up your Do Not Disturb sign and say “fuck it!”