One thing I’ve never been very good at is self-care, I have moments where I like to think I’m the queen of self-care, but those moments are often short-lived, and they’re definitely infrequent. In actual fact I’m pretty rubbish at self-care, though I’ve got the skill of self-depreciation mastered.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been advised to take a break and look after myself. Admittedly I do cringe slightly when people tell me to take it easy, or to do something nice for myself. In reflection I know that’s my mental illness pushing me to feel as though I’m not worthy of happiness, or feeling at ease with myself. Of course, I can imagine we all have aspects of ourselves that sways toward the ‘self-destruct’ path; we’re human, and we tend to be great at noticing our flaws, and forgetting that it’s okay to put ourselves first from time to time.
For me when I’m stressed or not feeling well I find it very difficult to think of ways to look after myself, which means that I often avoid self-care. I’m not talking about the basics, so sleep, brushing my teeth, showering and so forth – though of course there are days where that does seem too much, but I know those are days where I do have to try a little harder to nurture myself. Naturally I have things that I like doing that I find soothing, but I don’t think I do them enough. Sometimes the thought of self-care freaks me out, I’m not too sure why, but I guess maybe it’s because it means there’s a part of me that’s admitting that I need to pause and rest, and there’s a part of me that’s trying to fight the tough times. Which, for me, can be a scary thought, sometimes I think it’s harder to look after yourself when self-destruct is such a familiar way of life.
So, in an attempt to try and get my brain back on my side I thought I’d compile a list (more for myself really) of the things that I know help me feel a little less stressed. It’d be ace to hear of other ways that people recharge their batteries, as I have my own tools, but often I feel as though I need to try something a little different.
Here are some of the ways that I tend to rest, relax and take time for myself:
I’m a huge music fan, I sing and play music, and I’m a big fan of making playlists and taking time to sit and listen to music that I love. I’m really drawn to people that have ace vocals, (I’m a massive Demi Lovato fan – her vocals are ace). When I’m tired, stressed or just craving some music I like to sit and listen to playlists – Spotify is my best friend when it comes to this. Many a night I’ve sat and made playlists (that I often get bored of and delete really soon). Music helps me hide from the world and switch off, and I really enjoy the whole deciding what to listen to, and finding songs that suit my mood perfectly. I studied music programming for a bit, and had an ace time – though now I like to just use music as a way to de-stress.
There are no words to describe how much I love cats, most specifically my little munchkin: Smokey. Smokey can instantly calm me down (or irritate me, when he’s in a ‘kill the world mood’). My family joke that I just attract cats, as the number of cats that have moved into the houses that I’ve lived in is actually pretty funny. Smokey is the be all and end all in my opinion, and he absolutely loves that bloody banana I bought him.
I grew up on an island, so I was surrounded by water – when I first moved to Birmingham I really missed the sea, and the countryside. Though of course I quickly discovered it’s numerous reservoirs and country parks. When I’m struggling, but don’t want to sit down and ‘wallow’ in self pity I like to go and explore the outside. I prefer doing this alone if I’m honest, as it gives me time to clear my head, and really appreciate the wonderful world of nature and fresh air.
One of the best things I’ve learnt over the past few years is the importance of taking time to pause and reflect on the positive things in life. For a while I kept a gratitude journal, and recorded every night five things that I was grateful for from that day. I found it last night and remembered how great it used to make me feel. I’m very good at remembering negative things from my life, but often I forget to reflect on the good stuff. In the above photo I’m sitting in a hotel room in Belgium, and it was total bliss. I sat and watched the ducks (and a cat across the water) for ages, and reflected on the week, making mental notes of the moments over that week that I wanted to ‘remember forever.’ Pausing is one of the best things for me, and I definitely don’t do it enough.
Hot drinks, candles, reading and getting cosy
I love a good cuppa, I also love being warm and cosy. Candles, tea and good mugs make for a wonderful peaceful time. I love curling up with a good book, and knowing that I am able to get completely lost in a story that isn’t mine. It helps me escape, even if it’s only momentary.
There’s loads of other stuff that helps me relax, such as colouring, writing, drawing, having a nice bath, Pinterest, shopping (though that can be bloody stressful!) And plants, I love plants. Oh and Harry Potter, I love Harry Potter.