I’m going to start this by saying that everybody needs self-care. My anxiety serves a purpose; it reminds me to look after myself. When I start to doubt myself, or worry about the impossible, when my hands start to shake or I feel like I can’t breathe – I’ve let it get too far.
You don’t need to suffer from a mental illness to look after yourself, it should be the norm. Think of this as a pick-me-up package, full of ways that help me feel better and that will hopefully benefit you as well!
When my anxiety gets bad, the first thing I like to do is listen to music. I go to my playlist full of songs by artists that make me happy so that I can surround myself with positivity and drown out the dread. One of my favourites at the minute is “Good as Hell” by Lizzo, her music is so upbeat and her lyrics are full of self-love. I’m thinking of creating another playlist and sharing it here, so if you have any suggestions let me know!
Exercise is another distraction. I’m not an expert but everyone who knows something about fitness seems to think it creates certain hormones and releases some sort of chemicals that make you feel good – and I’m not one to argue with them! When I’m looking after myself I don’t work too hard, I do enough to get my heart going but I don’t push it too hard. This is about making yourself feel better, and sometimes too much exercise and not listening to your body can cause more harm than good.
Baths! I’m one of those people who could stay in the bath for hours if the water stayed the right temperature. Any excuse to get use some of my favourite lush products. I can’t read in them but sometimes I’ll play music and if not I think it’s nice to just light some scented candles, lie back and enjoy the bubbles. I used to have this PE teacher who would tell us that warm water like baths was good for us – it was her way of encouraging us to go swimming (The water in our school’s pool was disgusting – no one went in.). She used to say that professional footballers would be sent straight to the nearest swimming pool after a strain – whether there’s any truth in that I’ll never know.
I’m a reader, I have been from a very young age. I liked being able to escape through another doorway full of words that could create new places and people. Self-care for me is quite literally an escape route, to get away from anxiety I avoid it by looking after myself. Reading books where I quite literally have to fight myself to put the book down just as binge watching a new television series. Currently shows like Bodyguard, Stranger Things, and Killing Eve have really been helping me. I’m thinking of compiling a list of books, tv shows and films for when I feel low, like a care package in media form.
If distraction doesn’t work and I have to face how I’m feeling, I write it down. My words are uncensored and raw, I hold nothing back. I think it’s best to get it all out on paper – and then rip it up. My emotions have been acknowledged by writing and now it’s time to get rid of them. I think the act of getting rid of them is what helps me, but if you prefer to keep them you can do that too. A self-care routine is what you make it, you do what makes you feel better…you can tailor any of this advice to what will help you.
I think that’s the most important thing about this “pick me up package”, doing what makes you feel good. Everyone knows the old song, “forget your troubles come on get happy” and when my body and mind need some TLC, I pull myself out of my self-pity and do what makes me happy. If happiness is staying in bed all day, scrolling through social media and playing your favourite song on a loop – do that. If it’s going to your favourite coffee shop with family and friends – that’s self-care! There is no true definition as long as you’re looking after yourself, that’s the most important thing.
What do you do to practise self-care? If you have any songs, films, tv shows or books to recommend for me to binge on for the next time I want to look after myself– share them with me!