I go to school full time and work part-time in addition to trying to maintain good physical/mental health. Suffice to say that leaves me with not much time, not a ton of energy, and in desperate need of a break/time to recuperate/take care of myself/not do anything/etc. Most of the time, this kind of mindful taking care of oneself is known as “self-care”. The University of Buffalo (SUNY) School of Social Work explains self-care as:
activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being.
And the great Audre Lorde described her own relationship with self-care as
not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.
In this sense, self-care is a mechanism to counteract the capitalist keep doing and doing and doing mentality that is endemic within Western society. The dominant discourse within the West values the work that our bodies produce especially those of us with marginalized identities, however are bodies/selves/lives are seen as value-less if instead of producing capital gain, we focus on nurturing ourselves. That is how self-care can be a revolutionary act to maintain, uplift, and thrive in societies that are desperate to see us beaten, tired, and emotionally/physically exhausted.
In this post, I’m going to focus on simple, low cost self-care that can be done basically any time. These are self-care activities that are really great for me because I can treat/pamper myself, take my mind off of stressful things, and have a break.
Enrich the Soul
Throughout my life, reading and listening to music have been forms of escapism to decompress, relax, and unwind. I’m not saying reading Gone Girl is the best thing to do for everyone, but for me books put my mind at ease. I can escape into a reality that is so different from my own that I can take a break from my own day to day life. Books can be place of hope and peace. I know that when I read the Harry Potter series, seeing Harry overcome foes both big and small makes me feel a lot less down.
Also, listening to music helps me change my mood the fastest. Listening to upbeat, pop beats make me feel more energized; jazzy, soulful music makes me feel like I’m not alone in all of my emotions. A study in Frontiers in Psychology found that participants related to music as affecting their self-awareness (emotions, coping, solace, meaning of life), social relatedness (social bonding, social group/subculture identification), and arousal/mood regulation (entertainment, impact on mood). These reactions to music show that it’s possible for listening to music to act as self-care as it has the potential to help us explore our own emotions, relate to others, and guide us towards for positive moods.
Express the Mind
Journaling is something that can be done as long as you have paper and something to write with. I felt a lot of pressure when I wanted to journal to make sure that my journal was in line with the tumblr aesthetic with perfect handwriting and ambient lighting.
I use my journal for a lot of different things. I like to put pictures that I like (below you’ll see that I have a picture of doggos, cats, and graphics I found online), write quotes/mantras to inspire me, follow prompts, doodle, and set goals. It gives me a space to process a lot of what I deal with throughout the day. Online there’s a lot of different journal prompts that focus on body positivity, mindfulness, creativity, and basically write about anything you could want to write about.
Below I’ve shown some of my less personal and more creative journaling pages.
Effect the Body
Going outside, taking a walk, and appreciating the environment around me is a great way for me to destress and lighten the mood, but I don’t always have time for that. Sometimes it’s 10pm on a Tuesday night and I need to write a paper, but I also need to sleep so I’m freaking out. In those times these are some of the easiest ways for me to calm down and focus on my self.
If I don’t have the time/energy/means to do the things below. It’s nice to sit for a minute or two in silence and focus on breathing. Taking a moment to take inventory of your body, be mindful of how your body feels, and follow your breath can be a simple, powerful, free act of self-care.
However, on occasion if I’m feeling bad about myself or my skin picking is a bit out of control it’s nice to practice self-care that has an external impact on how I perceive and interact with my external body.
As someone who likes to pick at their cuticles, as a form of self-care I like to change my interaction with my hands to something that is positive and kind. This typically involves applying a lot of cuticle oil to my hands or taking an hour to paint my nails.
If I’m feeling some kind of way about my skin or I simply just want to treat myself and have some pamper time, I apply a face mask. I have quite a few of the TonyMoly face masks at the moment because they’re like 3 for $10 at Urban Outfitters. Face masks are a nice way to take a moment for self-care, but it still allows me to do other things while I leave the mask on for 20 minutes.
I hope this post has given you some ideas for self-care! I’d love for you to comment below self-care that your incorporate into your day to day life!