[CW: mental illness, depression, anxiety]
i’m really not into the commercial “self-care” trend which so many brands use to sell you overpriced stuff when you feel a bit down, which is something i’ve already talked about once.
i hate that self-care has become synonymous with splurging your savings on expensive creams, bath bombs, “superfoods” and i-don’t-know-what, which is a lifestyle only few can afford.
no, today, i want to talk about self-care in its purest form, its essential meaning – taking a step back and doing something that makes you feel good. when i talk about mental health here, i usually focus on the downsides of dealing with a mental illness, but not this time! this article is all about ways that help me feel (at least a bit) better when i hit the rock bottom, just to perhaps inspire others. and simply to show that self-care really doesn’t have to be about putting on face masks or going to get your mani done aka living a higher class lush life, but it’s entirely about figuring out what makes you feel safe and calm.
at the same time, i also don’t see self-care as a set of tools, a medicine of sorts, that you whip out only when you feel super bad. it can be little things you do every day to make you feel like your job or homework or whatever else isn’t that horrible. little treats to keep you going. maybe it should be called “self-love” or “self-appreciation” tools, i don’t know. but let’s stick to self-care now, huh?
anyway, here are a few things that really help me when i need a little push in life:
i love naps, really. when things just get a bit too much, sometimes it’s the best to just sleep it off for a bit instead of dreading over it all the time, you know, to give yourself a little break. the anxiety doesn’t always go away when you wake up, but at least you have more energy to deal with it now.
staying in my nicely decorated room
in fact, self-care to me is mostly about making myself and my surroundings feel safe and cozy and all warm and nice. during a recent therapy session, i discovered that one source of my anxiety is instability i’ve experienced so much in the past few years hence to the constant moving and never really being settled, so when i feel especially vulnerable i really focus on making myself feel grounded in my own room. i light candles, put on my aroma lamp, prepare a cup of tea and a snack on my cute vintage dinnerware, and just try to relax in my room full of fresh and dried roses, pink details and all of my other favorite stuff. i know this is my own place, it reflects me, and i can do whatever i want there.
surrounding myself with nice things
on a similar note, i just love being surrounded by things i like no matter what. some people make fun of me specifically buying pink/black/silver/rose-patterned/etc stuff (like books, drinks, food etc etc) just to have it fit to my Instagram grid, but the fact is – pink makes me happy. roses too. cute patterns, witchy designs, minimalist fits, whatever; i like to look at them. and that can instantly make a dreadful task, like writing an essay for uni or cleaning, way more enjoyable. so go on, buy everything in your favorite color or pattern, be picky and incredibly specific. anything that could brighten your day up!
face masks, the it thing of commercial self-care, has never been that much of my specialty, but i do love a good long bath. i even make my own bath salt – i literally just add a few drops of lavender oil, dried rose petals and sage.
when i was experiencing those extreme side effects of my first antidepressants and was confined to my bed for a week straight, i decided to rewatch the whole Harry Potter series again. and then re-read the books. and even i had never been a huge HP fan before, i suddenly became literally obsessed with it, and ever since, Harry Potter is somewhat of a safe place to me. can’t sleep? watch Harry Potter. feeling anxious/numb/scared? watch Harry Potter. just came back from CZ and feeling a bit odd in Berlin again? watch Harry Potter. having a cold? watch Harry Potter. hate everyone on the public transport? read Harry Potter. and so on. by now, i cannot even count the times i’ve seen it. it’s also become my number one thing to take naps to, somehow. there are so many flaws in the whole story/universe, but i guess i find a refuge in the fact that it’s a whole unreal world where my problems don’t really exist.
the process of going through your belongings, sorting and (re)organizing them, ahhh. so relaxing. so therapeutical. getting rid of stuff is a great thing to do when you feel overwhelmed and have the urge to change something, at least for me. plus, i find it way harder to concentrate/keep my mind clear and fresh in cluttered spaces, so i’m really incredibly into having everything clean and in order. i even organize my computer files several times a day, lol.
last but not least, a long, long walk outside is always a great head-cleaning practice. i particularly love going to Tiergarten here in Berlin, especially because it’s usually pretty empty and my beloved Siegessäule is there.
simply, little acts of kindness to myself. like thinking screw it and having my favorite pasta for dinner even though i’ve already had pasta for lunch and i “should” eat something different. like putting on my favorite clothes even though i had a different outfit planned. like buying a chocolate or candy bar or something small and sweet. like watching an episode (or many) of a TV show after working on something for the whole day. you know, just telling yourself: you’re doing amazing, sweetie!