The term self-care has become something of a buzzword in recent years, and for good reason – an increasing number of people spend longer amounts of time working, and report higher stress levels as a result. However, self-care has morphed into an idea that elicits eye-rolls from many, because it has turned into a synonym for taking a bubble bath and sipping wine, or spending hundreds of dollars on makeup and skincare products. While these things can be a part of a person’s self-care routine, they are by no means the extent of self care.
Why do I need a self-care routine?
Before you start a routine of self-care, it’s important to understand why you might need one. Here are a few I can think of right off the bat:
SOCIAL MEDIA BURNOUT
BEING A ONE-PERSON BUSINESS
MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS*
*This blog post should not be used as a substitute for mental health advice or diagnoses by a licensed mental health professional or doctor. If you have concerns about your mental health, please seek help from a professional. Some resources to help you get connected with professionals are available at the end of this post.
With the advent of social media, it’s all too easy to stay online for hours at the end of the day. Social media is a fun way to catch up with friends or keep up with your favorite hobby, but scrolling can also be very draining, and potentially damaging to your mental health.
For those of us who run an online business, or even just like to be on platforms like Instagram, it’s easy to get burned out by constant content creation, or to get caught up in negative self-comparison (I like this blog post from Thrive Global and this article from Psychology Today on how to notice and stop self-comparison!). Running a business by yourself is tough! You’re the CEO, Marketing Director, Content Creator and also the lead in production. That’s more than a few hats to wear! If you’re anything like me, your commitment to your business can consume your thoughts and your life, andleave little time for you to relax and enjoy your time. On top of that, your small business may not be the only job you work. Maybe you have a full-time or part-time job, and the business is supplemental income. Not everyone loves the job they have. Even if you did manage to land your dream job, that doesn’t mean that you have dream work-life balance. It’s important to maintain work-life balance in order to avoid burnout.
What can I do to practice self-care?
So what can you do to start your own self-care routine? All it takes is a few minutes out of every day, to start. If you’re new to this, then maybe just take 15 minutes to sit quietly by yourself, get a snack or drink that you like, and practice some deep breathing. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, because the endorphins act as natural stress relief! If you’re interested in weight-lifting, consider joining a gym. Not into gyms? Go for a walk or run outside, or do a fun exercise in your own home! Alternatively, if you’re a maker like me, you could spend those 15 minutes working on a personal project.
Are you a maker who is on social media all the time because of your small business? If so, you and I have a lot in common! I’d recommend all of the above to you, but with one addition – start a personal project that you won’t share on social media. I find that the pressure to share a photo of a project, even a personal one, can add stress to a project that wouldn’t otherwise be there. This way, the project is purely personal, and can be a respite for you when you need that time to relax and clear your head. And don’t forget to give your hands a rest and do hand and arm exercises and stretches – this is another great form of self-care that you can work into your day very easily!
Another way I’d recommend practicing self-care is by limiting your time spent on social media. I have noticed a significant change in my mood when I spend too much time online. Some smartphones now have built-in features to track the amount of time you spend on your phone, which they call “screen time.” Take a look at this feature on your phone, and make an effort to decrease the amount of hours of screen time each week.
You don’t have to practice self-care alone either! If you have friends who are as exhausted as you are, maybe gather everyone together for a tech-free dinner or board game night. Camaraderie can be just as rejuvenating as solo self-care practices!
To this end, part of your self-care journey can include mindfulness, or the act of focusing on the present moment and immersing yourself in it. Not only is mindfulness a good technique for those who struggle with mental illness, but it also ensures that you’re living a life with fewer distractions. Being present in this way can mean doing anything, particularly things you enjoy, and fully focusing on them. This allows you to clear your mind for a time of anything that has been weighing on you. I hope you’ll apply mindfulness to your daily routine in order to lead a fuller, less stressed life!
Self care can also mean seeking professional help if you need it. If you’ve noticed any change in your mood or thoughts, and that change concerns you, I’d definitely recommend that you reach out to your doctor or to a licensed mental health professional. Working with a professional can give you confidence and great resources to overcome any challenges you’re currently facing due to your mental health concerns.
What about the self-care beauty trends I’ve heard all about?
Many people like to do skincare routines as self-care (I love doing this myself!) and it can be a great option if you want some me time and to feel pampered. However, I think it’s also important to notice that the beauty industry has undeniably sought to capitalize on the growth of interest in self-care recently. A quick Google search shows that some sites, such as Anthropologie, now have entire item categories dedicated to self-care products.
I say all of this just to caution those who seek to start a self-care routine for the first time – don’t think that self-care exclusively means getting pedicures and buying bath bombs. Self care is a lot more than beauty and skincare! That said, if taking a luxurious bath and applying a face mask is a part of your routine and makes you happy, by all means continue with this part of your routine! Just recognize the difference between adding beauty/skincare to your routine because you enjoy it, versus adding it because you think it alone is self-care, OR because you think that by buying the product alone you are practicing self–care.
I hope this post has given you some things to think about! I challenge you to pause for a moment and take your own mental health inventory. How are you feeling in this moment? What’s weighing on your mind? Are you anxious, subdued, energetic, exasperated? If you feel any negative emotions, why do you think that is? Is it something that could be alleviated if you took some time to recharge and rest? If so, maybe a self-care routine should be your next step. It doesn’t take a lot to get it going, but once it’s a part of your life, it can make all the difference in the world. YOU are a worthwhile investment, and committing to your own healing and well-being is the best commitment you can make.
Mental Health Resources
Below is a list of various resources and organizations dedicated to helping those who are acing challenges due to their mental health. I’ve included resources from around the world that will be relevant to a majority of my followers, but I’d love to add onto this list! If you’d like to see an organization from your region included on the list, please contact me and I’ll add it!
A HUGE special thanks to my good friends Ayesha, Shelby and Valentina for helping me compile these resources so far!
Good 2 Talk Post-Secondary Student Helpline
Kids Help Phone Counselling Services
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
ULifeline College Mental Health Resources
How have you incorporated self-care into your life? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below to share your story or encourage others!