Self Care 101

Written by Laura Clark

Hi there, friend. I think it’s time that we had a little chat. I can see you’re working extremely hard, and I think that’s great. Don’t forget you need to take a break sometimes, too. I know, I know, you don’t have time for a break. Who does, really? I’m here to tell you that you deserve breaks and you deserve to take care of yourself.

The term ‘self care’ is thrown around a lot these days, and for good reason. But what exactly is it? Self care is a personal process used to maintain your well being. That includes your mental, physical, and emotional wellness, too. A personal mentor once told me that meaningful self care should be an activity that doesn’t fulfill basic human needs. For example, a healthy diet consists of three meals a day, so eating lunch isn’t necessarily considered self care. However, treating yourself to a nice lunch out with friends or giving yourself time to cook (if you enjoy cooking) would be considered good self care practice. Same thing goes for sleeping, since you need a certain number of hours of sleep for your body to function properly. You need to sleep a certain number of hours every night to stay healthy and function. However, letting yourself sleep in an extra hour one day or taking a nap in the afternoon would be a great way to self care if you find that helpful to you.

Another way of looking at self care would be in the form of energy bars. You have a certain number of energy bars that have a capacity of energy to complete tasks each day. Depending on how much you sleep, the type of food you eat, your work schedule, your school schedule, your personal commitments, and other responsibilities, your energy drains. Self care is a way to restore some of that lost energy so that you can continue accomplishing tasks and deal with unexpected life events.

Self care is a very individual process. Ultimately, the only person whose job it is to look after you is yourself. What works for you may not work for other people, and that’s ok.

Here are some things that I do when I self care:
-listen to my favourite music
-cook healthy food for myself (check out these healthy microwave-prepared meals)
-nap (17 minutes is the golden number for me, who knows why?)
-go for a walk
-make myself a cup of tea
-burn a scented candle (if you’re in residence and this isn’t possible for you, try mixing a couple drops of essential oils, cinnamon sticks or lemon slices into a bowl of steaming water and set it on a shelf – your room will smell lovely in no time!)
-play piano
-paint my nails and do a face mask (pro tip: hiding your phone across the room and under blankets makes it impossible to check until your nails are dry!)

Here are some other ways that friends of mine self care:
-eat cake
-work out
-write (in a journal, fanfiction, poetry, music, etc.)
-watch a favourite TV episode
-drink a glass of wine
-have a bath (Lush bath bombs, am I right?)
-cuddle (a friend, a dog, a significant other…anything cuddle-able)
-colour (adult colouring books are the best things since sliced bread)
-go see a show (one that you don’t have to evaluate for an assignment!)
-shopping (everything in moderation)
-playing or watching sports
-have a dance party
-positive affirmations
-being a productive procrastinator (e.g. Getting your motivation levels up by cleaning your room before you start your essay)
-sitting in a quiet room

Self care is all about what works for you. I find seeing movies by myself really relaxing, but others finding the experience extremely stressful. It can take some time to find what works, but the effort is totally worth it. As a Type A, hyperactive person who’s a repeat offender for making myself sick, I can say that the decision to take self care seriously positively impacted my life in a number of ways. I’m sick less often, have developed strategies to sleep better, and tend to enjoy my downtime a lot more. I can tell you from personal experience that you’ll feel so much better if you persevere to find what works for you. The important thing is that you keep trying. You deserve to be well.

Check out some great self care tips to do alone here.