The reality of self care
Self care is all the rage right now. And it’s a trend I’m fully on board with. In today’s fast-paced and constantly switched on lifestyle, where anxiety, stress and depression are creeping higher, I’m all for taking the time to look after ourselves. But there’s a difference between the fashionable trend of self care, and what it really looks like for those who struggle.
Instagram would like us to believe that self care looks a certain way.
Peppermint tea. Lush bath bombs. Daily face masks. Morning yoga. Daily meditation. A gentle workout. Coffee with friends. Green smoothies. Pizza. Expensive candles. Fairy lights. Cuddly blankets. Sweatpants. Messy top-knots.
All perfectly imperfect. All laid out in a beautifully-styled flat lay.
While some of these do indeed help after a bad day where your anxiety has been sky-high, unfortunately it’s not the reality for people who feel like they have hit emotional rock bottom.
The truth is, that when it feels like the world is weighing you down and everything is against you, it’s near impossible to get out of bed in the morning, let alone treating yourself to a morning yoga session before getting caught in rush hour traffic to sit at a desk for eight hours a day. I felt exhausted just writing about that.
When you have a mental illness, daily tasks are so much more challenging.
- You’re exhausted, even though you slept for hours. The alarm goes off and there is no energy left anywhere in your body to get up
- You know you need to shower, but just can’t
- Even washing your face and brushing your teeth – what’s the point
- You’ve no appetite, and when you do you need that sugar rush so avoid healthy food
- Forget the gym
- Meditation is the hardest thing to do because your thoughts are firing a million miles a minute
- Socialising feels like burdening your friends with your very presence
- You need to go shopping for food, but the idea of battling through other people fills you with dread
This isn’t meant to be a negative post. In fact, I mean it to be the complete opposite!
I wanted to remind anyone who struggles to do the basic things that they are totally normal and are doing absolutely fine.
You are normal for not wanting to get up, or feeling conflicted about basic hygiene because you just cannot be bothered. For feeling confused about food, and knowing what you should be doing but refusing to do it anyway.
You are all normal.
And as someone who is still on the very rocky road to recovery, I wanted to share some real-life self care tips designed to just get you through the next 24 hours. And then the next. And the next.
- Drink some water. That’s all you have to do for now. And before you know it, you’re out of bed
- Go to the bathroom. For god’s sake stop holding it in
- Open a window. Let the fresh air hit your face without the difficult task of going outside
- When was the last time you showered? If it’s been more than a day or so, get in
- Brush your hair. Slowly
- Brush your teeth or use mouthwash
- Have you taken your medication today? Even if you stay inside all day, be proud you’ve done this
- Reply to those texts from friends or family
- Wear whatever you want, just make sure it’s clean
- Put on fresh undies and socks
- Tidy away a few things
- When did you last eat? Grab some toast, cereal or nuts, something quick and easy
- Do some gentle neck and back stretches
- Moisturise yourself – hands, face, lips or your entire body
- Window shop online
- Light a candle
- Wrap a blanket around your shoulders and hug yourself
- Switch on your favourite show and watch back-to-back episodes
- Make a hot water bottle and hold it to your chest or stomach
- On your period? Look after yourself
- Go for a nap. No pressure to sleep, just curl up all cosy and warm and see what happens
But the most important thing is to not guilt-trip yourself because your self care doesn’t look a certain way.
Our minds hold us back from exercise, reaching out to people, and even going outside. Sometimes it’s ok if all you did today was brush your teeth and breathe.
You’re doing ok. Trust me.