Self-care goes a long way.
2017 started with me feeling pretty shitty. I ignored it, always believing that I can control my emotions, be a machine and just push through it. Well, months progressed with the shitty feeling, and it started affecting me in other ways. I started to notice that I was struggling to do work, to get out of bed, to even take care of myself. I felt empty all the time. After pushing from a friend, I sought out help from a therapist that specialized in cognitive therapy. She recognized patterns in the way that my brain works and taught me how to slow down a little and deal with it, instead of pushing it off.
The reason I’m being open and telling you this is because this is something that entrepreneurs very commonly deal with. According to a study by Dr. Michael Freeman, a clinical professor at the University of California, 1 in 3 entrepreneurs live with depression.
It’s prevalent in the creative community (at least people that I know), and it may be in yours too. It seems to be this deep, dark secret that NO ONE wants to talk about until you start having those one-on-one conversations.
If you can’t afford therapy, self-care in other ways can go a LONG way for your mental health and happiness. Since starting therapy, I’ve started putting boundaries in place to make sure I am a happier person.
Ten Ways To Practice Self-Care Daily
Have a morning routine that you enjoy
I start my days with an hour of reading or sketching. This means I wake up at 7 every day, drinking a cup of coffee on my comfy couch and reading a book (Harry Potter FTW). Starting my day this way makes me incredibly happy. It’s that time that I need to be lost in something other than work or the day's tasks. Whether it's reading, writing, listening to a podcast, taking a walk or even taking the time to make yourself breakfast; create a routine that will help you ease into the day.
Accept that you can't be 'on' all the time
There has been a lot of times when I like the idea of being social, but I don't actually like the act of it. Depending on my mood, it feels forced and fake. This brought me a lot of anxiety for quite some time because I felt like a 'loner' and thought that I was isolating myself. But after thinking it through, I've come to accept the fact that sometimes I just don't want to go out, and that's OK. I was trying to force myself to do something that I didn't want to do, which ended up causing me to feel worse about myself. If you're not feeling like doing anything, that's fine. You are your number one priority. Sometimes going out is what you'll need, and sometimes being alone will help you more. Navigate how you're feeling and do what feels best.
Turn your phone off (or put it on DND)
Social media is a blessing and a curse. Being on my phone has become a reaction for me when I'm searching for something to do, but after thinking about it more, being on social media sometimes makes me feel worse. Social media often gives you a glimpse into everyones lives, and of course they share THE BEST parts of their lives (because sharing the shitty parts isn't glamorous or "on brand"). But after scrolling through the feed, the imposter syndrome in our minds comes out and we start comparing ourselves to them. THIS IS NOT GOOD. It does not feed your mind or your life. If there are accounts that you follow and every time you see them it makes you feel bad, UNFOLLOW THEM. Your mind is trying to tell you something, be open to it. Besides unfollowing some accounts, I often have my phone on DND these days. Which means that anyone in my emergency contacts can call me, but all of my social notifications do not come through and distract me throughout the day. It's less distraction and less time spent on aimlessly scrolling for hours wondering why my life isn't like that.
Take a day off
If you have the ability to take the day off to focus on you, please do. I know that there are a lot of people who cannot do this, and if you're one of them, following these other tips that I list can help. If you're of the small group that has the ability to, do it. Taking a day off and working to completely immerse yourself in something besides work can be refreshing. Take the day to actually make yourself breakfast and enjoy it, watch a show that makes you giggle, read a book, take a walk, take a bubble bath, go visit a friend who always makes you feel good. Do anything that will feed your soul and help you thrive.
Accept how you feel
This one has always been a weird one for me. During a session with my therapist, she asked me "why are you trying to figure out the way you feel? Aren't you over analyzing yourself and making it worse?" I was. There was a constant state of wondering "Why am I like this? What's wrong with me??" Before I left, she told me "accept that you feel like this, and just move through it." This is a hard thing to remember, but helpful when I'm not feeling 100%, I have to remind myself "you're fine, breathe, this doesn't last forever." When you're feeling low and constantly wondering what's wrong with you, remember to close your eyes, breathe deeply for 5 breathes, and remind yourself that this doesn't last forever. You will get through it and it will be okay.
Get rid of the clutter
We're in the days of having excess shit all the time. Like Ariel says, "I've got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty, I've got whozits and whatzits galore, You want thingamabobs? I've got twenty!" Getting rid of the excess clutter has taken a weight off of my chest. This means getting rid of clothes that I don't wear anymore and donating them, getting rid of papers that I will never go through and don't have a need for. Earlier this summer I went through all of my belongings and ended up donating 6 bags to the Salvation Army. Now I only keep the essentials around, and I've worked on having more organization for everything.
Make a list of things you're thankful for
It's simple. Grab a journal, or a piece of paper, and actually write down a list of things that you are thankful for. A gratitude list. This has always helped bring perspective into my life, because in these moments all I can do is focus on the negative, a gratitude list brings me back to home base and is a reminder of why life is great.
Make your space yours
For the longest time, my office space and apartment did not feel cozy. Being in those spaces made me feel anxious and I couldn't focus at all. I started working on these spaces though; hung artwork on the walls, put bookshelves up, bought various plants...all of these made my spaces feel more comfortable, more like me. They've helped create more focus in my life too, because now I enjoy the energy in these spaces. If you're wondering how I added all of it, I bought the cheapest items from IKEA.
What's the ONE THING you always want to treat yourself to and never do? Just do it. Go out and get that thing. Treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, massage, new book, ice cream...hell, make a cake and eat it too! It seems like treating ourselves or indulging holds a negative feeling, but it is not negative! Indulge yourself! You work your butt off, you deserve to get that thing you can't stop thinking of.
To take care of myself physically (and mentally), I workout 6 days a week. Now this is because I love fitness, but even getting physical activity 2-3 times a week helps bring clarity into the mind and release endorphins. The time I dedicate to working out is time that I completely check out mentally, and push my body to be stronger.
Therapy, if not covered by insurance, can be expensive. Fortunately, there are other ways to practice self care, and these are 10 small steps that can help get you started. All of these items can help you be your best self, and therefore you are setting yourself up for success. Success isn't defined by "hustling 24/7" with no self-care. Success does involve hard work, but if you put time into yourself, you're creating a healthy path to enjoy what you've worked for. Take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and phsycially, and you'll be better at making those big decisions.
What do you do to take care of yourself?
Is there a routine that you've started following to help you feel great?