We love a good DIY sugar scrub as much as the next person, but if you think that self-care is all essential oils and bathtubs full of flowers, well, actually, we understand why. We’ve all seen the #selfcare posts on Instagram.
But actually, self-care is anything you need to do to take care of your body and mind—whatever that looks like for you. It could be anything from brushing your teeth to going to therapy to eating enough food. Different people need different types of self-care. Also, just because it’s called “self” care doesn’t mean you have to do all of these things yourself. There’s nothing wrong with getting help.
And yes, there are layers and layers and layers of privilege around this issue, and it’s important to unpack those layers, but for now, we’re just going to hit the basics.
There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as torture. Not getting enough sleep can make you anxious, irritable, and depressed. Overall, you’re just not going to be coping at your best if you’re not sleeping. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, try a meditation app, practice good sleep hygiene, and, if you’re still struggling, speak to your provider.
2. Eat and drink
Not everybody can eat whenever they’re hungry or drink enough clean water, but if you can, please do. Your body and brain need nutrients and hydration in order to keep you going. Not having enough of either can leave you feeling weak physically and drained emotionally. (Also diets are a tool of the patriarchy to keep women distracted so they don’t riot in the streets, so yeah.)
3. Take breaks
This is that whole put your own oxygen mask on first thing. Take breaks during work to get some fresh air. Take breaks from social media. Take breaks from pressuring yourself to be productive constantly to just do absolutely nothing. Take all the breaks. Also, while working towards making things better in the world is awesome and necessary, and that can mean having conversations with people you don’t agree with or like (we’re looking at you, Uncle Tim), these conversations can be really tough and hurtful. It’s okay to take breaks from interacting with people who make you feel like sh*t (if you have the option) and limit your interactions to just those people who make you feel seen and heard.
4. Get clean
Not to get all mom-like on you, but you’ll feel better after a shower/bath/sponge bath! And nobody ever regretted brushing their teeth (ok maybe not no one). It’s not going to change your life, but it sure as heck feels good.
5. Take your meds (including your birth control)
If you’re going to pick just one thing on this list to do, let it be this one. We understand the temptation to let things slide when things are rough, but not taking your meds is ultimately just going to make everything rougher. If you’re having trouble remembering, try our reminders app (we made it to help you remember your birth control, but it’ll work just as well to remind you to take your Prozac).
6. Talk to someone
Whether it’s a friend, a parent, a partner, a sibling, someone from AA, a spiritual advisor, a therapist, a psychic, or a friendly squirrel at the park, find someone to talk to about how you’re feeling. (Squirrels are great listeners, but we recommend a therapist if you’re really struggling.) Processing your emotions in a healthy way can help you stay grounded and remember that you’re not alone.
7. Register to vote
May seem like a weird thing to find on a list about self-care, but speaking up for yourself, using your voice, and planning for your future is the ultimate self-care. Check out our guide to the midterm elections, and find out if you’re registered here.
P.S. We love you.