There seems to be this popular trend amongst the cool kids nowadays about what self-care
looks like. Bubble baths. Face masks. All these gosh-darned essential oil diffusers. These things
are relaxing when dealing with short-term stress, but what if you struggle long-term to take care
of yourself because of depression or anxiety? Relaxation is important, so light those lavender
candles, but sometimes self-care is more about building good long-term habits. In no particular
order, here’s a checklist of things to do if you need some guidance and help in self-care:
1. Have a healthy snack & water
Nourish your body. You always deserve to eat, no matter your size, no matter how
behind you are on your work, no matter what. When’s the last time you ate? Get a
banana and slap some peanut butter on there as a nice snack (unless you’re allergic,
then don’t do that). When’s the last time you hydrated? Get a glass of water and drink it.
Have some beef jerky. You are a body as well as the mind so take care of both.
2. Sleep. Consistently.
Good sleep is widely underrated. To all the college students out there, no, sleeping for
three hours and then taking a four-hour nap later does not count as a full night’s rest.
Most adults on average need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night––quite a lot of
time to be asleep, but apparently our brains like that kind of thing. Shut off the phone,
turn off the lights, and make sure your room is quiet and cool. If you have a weighted
blanket, use it. That work project can wait until tomorrow. Prioritize your sleep regularly.
You deserve it.
3. Move your body.
Wander ponderously through the woods. Play with your dogs. Pet the cat like a Bond
villain. Turn on the music and have a dance party. Stretch a bit and unclench your jaw.
Leap from furniture to furniture. Slap some bongos. Do a backflip. Have a pool noodle
fight. Whatever it is and whatever feels right for you, move your body with joy.
4. Take your meds
Consider this your reminder if you’ve forgotten. Take your medication as scheduled
according to your doctor’s instructions. Also, do not stop cold turkey. Some medications,
such as SSRIs (Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, for example) can cause serious trouble if
suddenly stopped. You wouldn’t shame someone who’s diabetic for taking their insulin,
right? So why hold yourself to a different standard?
If you want to stop taking your meds for personal reasons, or because you’re having an
adverse reaction, talk to your doctor first. They can address your concerns, and prevent
you from experiencing the side effects of medication withdrawal.
5. Phone a Friend
A good friend is hard to find, and they’re important. In our unprecedented year of
prolonged isolation, the connection is vital. Even introverts might be ready to return to
people watching at the local coffee shop. So call up a friend and chat for a bit. It doesn’t
have to be serious––talk about your favorite shows, the football game, or that killer
cherry pie you had the other day. Invest deeply in your personal connections; good
friends and good family can make a tough day bearable.