I’ve been thinking about self-care a lot lately, primarily because I’ve been feeling pretty constricted by midterms (shouldn’t those be over??), final papers, looming final exams, etc. I feel like my life is scheduled to the minute, and with a schedule like that, who has time to read a book (for fun) or take a bubble bath (or a place to take a bubble bath, for that matter)?
To solve this, I’ve been trying to think of little ways to take care of yourself. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1) Eat. Okay, seriously. I hear people say almost every day that they didn’t have time to eat, which is so tragic. Personally, if I don’t eat, I get even more anxious and emotional, and am just a general mess. If you take care of your body, your brain will feel a whole lot better.
2) Along the same lines…sleep. Do your laundry. Clean up the pile of clothes that has been accumulating since you started studying for that test. Doing the little, mundane-feeling things can take a load off of your stress levels. Besides, doing somewhat mindless tasks gives your mind a chance to rest.
3) Breathe. Taking deep breaths is so easy and so calming. You can do it literally anywhere, from the middle of class to a subway platform. Taking a breath to put things into perspective is one of the most helpful things for me–especially because, after I take that breath, I realize I had been taking shallow, panicked breaths, thus continuing the cycle of panic (i.e. bad thing happens -> freak out -> stop breathing properly -> bodily response creates more panic -> feeling of panic escalates…etc.) Taking a second to breathe takes you away from the overwhelming stuff and into your own little safe space.
4) Listen. You know those songs that you just feel in your gut? The ones that you could be in the middle of a circus, but if that song comes on, it will get your attention? Well, those songs are the ones I want you to remember for moments when you’re feeling like you need a little love. In those moments, sit (or lie or whatever) down and just listen–not while you’re doing work, not while you’re in the gym, only when you force yourself to put the world on hold and listen.
5) Be an active participant in your life. Check in with yourself to make sure you’re doing things that you can handle and that you enjoy. It’s so easy to get caught up in life and stop paying attention to the way you feel or the things that you’re doing, but giving attention to these things is easy and can help you to make sure you’re living your life the way you want to. An easy way to do this is to create a gratitude log or a highs and lows log each day, detailing what you’re grateful for or what your best and worst moments were throughout the day. It will help you to be present and mindful in the everyday.
What little things do you do to take care of yourself? Share any ideas you have in the comments!