Most people who have read this blog know that I struggle with my anxiety. I can get anxious over really big things, but I can also get anxious over really little things too. A memory can wipe out my day, and sometimes there’s just an avalanche of really crappy things that can knock me out for longer. As I go through my life, I worry about things, and a lot of the time, they’re things that I don’t even have to worry about but I just can’t help myself. Sometimes they’re silly, sometimes they’re not.
Sometimes when I start to worry about things that I would have to make a decision about, I weigh my options into “do I need to” and “do I want to”. Example: The other day I was worrying about having a much needed day off. That day and the day before were really bad days, and I was worrying about what would happen if they called me into work a shift, and how I didn’t want to do it if they did because I just had two really bad days and I needed to just not be there. But then I started to worry that it would effect how often they called me when I was actually feeling up to taking an extra shift or two. I was worried about saying “no” when I needed a day to take care of me, which typically includes laying in bed with a book and a cup of tea, or watching Netflix, or photo editing. They’re kind of the lazy day things, and I was worried that they weren’t good enough reasons to say no to taking another shift or extending a shift I already had.
My friend and co-worker then reminded me that it’s okay to say no to those days sometimes because if you can’t bring your best self to work, then you’re likely to have resentment grow or lose whatever joy you’ve found if it’s a job you love. She’s right, and if you neglect yourself and your needs, especially when it comes to your mental health stuff, you only hurt yourself. Because of this, I’m learning that self-care is very important. That sometimes we need those days off, and we shouldn’t feel guilty to saying, “no” when you need your scheduled days off to relax and recoup.
This is a hard lesson for me, and I know that moving forward I’m still going to have to fight with myself about saying “no” because I don’t like disappointing people or letting them down, but I also have to remember that I’m no good if I’m not well taken care of. If I’m not taking time for me to recharge myself (especially because people are energy stealers and they wear me out) then I burn out and hate everything. That I really truly need to take care of me because I feel like I give so much of myself to others, and I don’t want to have nothing left.
Here are some of my favourite ways I try to show myself some self-care:
- Read a book. Lots of people read for different reasons, and mine is to relax and to escape. I don’t read award winners unless I’m genuinely into the stories because I don’t find reading something because I “should” or “have to” relaxing. I read the stories I like to read, and if I’m not digging the story, I try to not waste my time in finishing it.
- Have a cup of tea. This is usually combined with many other sources of my self-care choices, but mostly when I’m reading a book. It’s warm, and delicious and just makes snuggling up with a blanket and a book so cozy.
- Listen to music. Music is almost like soul healing it feels like. If I’m feeling down I usually go for some upbeat fun music, or something comforting like an old favourite album of mine. If I just need to relax and mellow out, or just need some white noise while I’m working on something or reading, I have a couple playlists with some of my favourite musical scores from movies, tv, and video games.
- Taking photos. There is just something about you + the world + your camera. A solo adventure or even one with some other creative people, it’s all good. Photography is just something that really fuels my soul, and makes me feel at peace…when I’m doing it for me. Sometimes I get lucky with a photo job that I really want to do, that makes me feel like this as well. They’re my favourite jobs, and make me feel better.
- Photo editing. I don’t know what it is, but I find editing photos just so relaxing. I find that it can be done at a decent pace, and gives you a final product which makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something while still being relaxing. Also, the colours when editing a landscape helps make me feel calm, especially when it includes a sunrise or sunset.
- Writing, even if no one will ever see it. It’s just an outlet to get my anxious thoughts out into the universe so that they’re not bundled up inside of me and making me more anxious. Write novels, write short stories, write blog posts, anything. Writing is such a therapeutic way to take care of yourself, and seeing your thought process in a physical way.
- Watching an old favourite or discovering a new one. A couple of years ago I realized that I watched a lot of my old favourites over and over again. Beauty and the Beast? I’ve probably seen that thousands of times in my life time. So I started keeping track of, and pushing myself to watch more movies that I had never seen before. I still very much watch my old favourites, but with this push to watch things I had never seen before, I found some new favourites that I can add to my repertoire of “I need to feel better, so I’ll watch this” movies.
- Spend some laid back time with people who don’t drain me. I like getting out and spending time with people, despite being an introvert. I like sitting at a cafe, both of us with our laptops working on something, or having a book, or just catching up, and it not feeling like a chore. I don’t do it often, because I’m really rather lazy, but when I do, I feel better.
- Crocheting a crap ton of roses. I don’t know how many I’ve made, but I’ve made quite a few crochet roses. They’re quick and easy and good for when I’m feeling anxious. It gives me this sense of accomplishment when I feel like I can’t do anything, and it keeps my hands and mind busy while I count stitches. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them all, but they make me happy.
- Skyping with my beautiful friend from Connecticut. We don’t get to do this often, but when we do, we can literally talk for hours. It’s so recharging just to have this person who I trust and love so much to talk to when things are going to crap. She’s an incredibly supportive friend and I’m forever thankful for her.
- Naps. Do no underestimate the power of a really good nap. Sometimes you’re just so emotionally, physically or socially exhausted that a good nap pumps you up. I think we all need to take more naps.
- Colouring is magical, and if you haven’t tried it, you must. We all coloured when we were in elementary school, and some of us even participated in the adult colouring phase. I’m pretty sure I was apart of the teenager colouring phase, because even before it became a big marketable thing I was still colouring, in my Hello Kitty colouring book with a 64 pack of crayola crayons. It calmed my anxiety, and helped me relax, which made it an important part of my self care.
- Mindless scrolling through Instagram, or Facebook, but mostly Instagram. I have such a love for that app. It’s where I’ve connected with local photographers, found inspiration, and found accounts that give me an unreal amount of joy. (shoutouts to twhiddleston, bonpon511, blackjaguarwhitetiger, popyeyethefoodie, logreglan, elsasketch, hotdudesreading, and a few others.)
- Just spending a day with no responsibilities or any set plans. It’s nice to be able to just lay and do nothing, or just go with the flow.
- Spending time in the sunshine. I struggle a lot in the winter, because it’s cold and grey a lot of the time, and that makes it hard to motivate myself to get out. Sitting out on the dock at the cottage with a book and a cup of tea in the sunshine is a soul healer.
- Spending time away from the regular world like at my family’s cottage outside of the city and by a lake. I grew up on this lake at my grandparents cottage, next to ours, and there’s just something about spending a weekend away down there. Sometimes I get anxious while I’m there, but it’s usually just left over from what I have been pushing back. I usually have no real responsibilities or things to really distract me from dealing with the issue, but sometimes that’s a good thing. It allows me to process it.
There are so many more things, big and small, that I do to practice self care. It’s important to remember that we sometimes need to do things for ourselves, especially if we’re the type of people who do a lot for others. We need to remember that while we’re taking care of others, while we’re doing stuff to bring people joy, we also need to bring joy to ourselves. I truly believe to have a happy and joyful life, we need to have a nice balance. If you only give and never take, you wear yourself out. If you always take and never give, you’ll never be satisfied. So, for those of us who gives a lot of ourselves, those of us who are introverted and being around people takes a lot of energy, please don’t forget to take care of yourself a bit. You’re worth it, trust me.