Self-care seems to be the hot new thing to do — like purchasing the newest sneaker craze or donning gel manicure sets — but it’s more than a trend. It’s sitting yourself down and being honest with yourself. What do you need the most that you’re depriving yourself of? What situations cause you stress and negative feelings? Are you treating yourself the way you would want to treat someone else, or better yet the way you would want someone else to treat you?
The way you feel in the present moment is of utmost importance. Stop hanging on to that friend thinking they’ll suffice until you’ve found new ones; don’t say you’ll invest in your skincare regimen when you have the time. Do it now. Make yourself a priority and feel good from the outside within. Implement these four simple, often overlooked self-care tips in your life right now and watch the life you seek begin to materialize.
1. Identify your triggers and get rid of them
A toxic friend, a job that makes you anxious as soon as you imagine showing up for your shift, or a class that has a workload that’s causing you mental distress. These are all mediums for triggers. The easiest way to identify something as a trigger is by thinking of how you feel when you come in contact with it.
If you feel like less of yourself after spending time with someone assess the things that were said and done in your time together. Chances are they’ve insulted you, made you feel small, or made you feel emotionally unsafe to the extent that you no longer feel comfortable expressing your feelings to them.
Situations can be harder to detect. For example, if you’ve just left a relationship, simply being around a couple — though they’ve personally done nothing to you — can be triggering. Note that it’s okay to not hate them and not want to be around them at the same time. Remember to put yourself first and take time away from people, places and situations that make you feel crummy until you’ve dealt with things internally.
2. Learn how to say no
It’s understandable that you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to a request in the fear of hurting someone you care for. You want to preserve the happiness of those around you which is fine, but take a step back and evaluate when saying ‘yes’ is becoming detrimental to you.
You know those scenarios where you really didn’t want to go out and do a certain activity with a specific person or group of people but, nevertheless, you agreed to it? Now you’re in your best friend’s–brother’s–girlfriend’s house watching a show you despise. The situations vary, but the theme still remains. Stop saying yes to people to make them feel okay while you feel inconvenienced.
There’s a quote I like to look to when I feel overwhelmed by my urge to put others before myself and it’s making me miserable:
Don’t set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.
Learn it, love it, and repeat it whenever necessary to ensure that you don’t drown in the persistent need to put others’ happiness before your own emotional well-being.
3. Recognize the difference between being lonely and alone, discover yourself
You can be in a room brimming with people and still feel lonely but at least you’re not alone, right? Wrong. Quit making do with people that don’t lift you up and make you feel like your best self just to ensure that you’re not ‘alone.’ I can guarantee that feeling lonely in a room full of people is the most alone you’ll probably ever feel.
Try to spend some time with yourself and assess what you need. Chances are you’ll find that you don’t actually mind spending time alone doing the things you love the most. In this alone time, you may realize that what you’ve been experiencing is loneliness, and this does not mean that you need to settle for just anyone to spend your time with.
Amid your journey of finding people that bring you inner peace who you genuinely enjoy being around, remember that being alone is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives you valuable time to endlessly discover yourself and self reflect.
4. Tune in to your body (if it’s worn out, on edge)
I’m guilty of pushing myself to go through with plans despite my body telling me otherwise. Soreness in your body, overwhelming tiredness, and general feelings of anxiety are all signs that it’s time to go home and unwind. Forget about the party you’ve been thinking about all week and ensure you are mentally and physically alright.
Take a shower accompanied by your favorite soothing playlist, practice your skincare routine, make your bed, compile your favorite snacks, grab your warmest blanket and put on your favorite show. All of these things will make you feel 1,000 times better than overexerting your mind and body at a time that it just needs to reset itself and relax.
In the event that you don’t feel well and would prefer to not converse with anybody DON’T PICK UP YOUR PHONE. I can’t stress this enough. There have been numerous times I’ve been angry or sad but still picked up and found myself taking my anger out on the person on the other end of the line. Let them know you can’t talk at the moment. They will understand and you can talk later.
There are a million ways to practice self-care, so don’t be afraid to find what works for you. Remember that you’re in charge of what you bring into your life and you have the same agency to remove things that are no longer making you feel like your best self!