It's World Mental Health Day. Let's take a step back from "busy" and learn to practice self-care.
The buzz word of the year, “self care,” has acquired a huge influx of popularity. But why? What is this strange, selfish-sounding practice and why is it so important?
Our society dedicates itself to productivity. If you are not running through your day, panting as you check one item off at a time of your never-ending to do list and constantly feeling as though you are not working hard enough, you have been sucked into this overworking phenomenon. You have probably noticed that the common answer to “how are you?” lately has turned into, “busy.” Messy buns, yoga pants, and worry lines have all increased. But maybe you do not need to live your life chained to “busy.” Maybe, just maybe, you can actually slow down long enough to enjoy who you are again.
Do you commonly find yourself sprinting between commitments? Are all of these commitments necessary? Do they need to happen today? Most likely, if you are honest with yourself, they do not. When we prolong this stressed out lifestyle, every item on our to do list becomes absolutely essential and we feel our life and energy slowly ebbing out as we drag ourselves home, throw on pajamas, and pass out each night. Make a column and list out everything that is actually essential. Then make another column of the things that are secondary, and then tertiary. When you see the schedule in front of you, you can consequently prioritize yourself over your schedule instead of being enslaved to it.
How often do you find yourself drowning under your own self-doubt when you compare yourselves to others who appear more successful, productive, or busy than you? Is this a good incentive to motivate you? No! More often than not, people neglecting self-care usually practice self-loathing and view themselves as less than the people around them. You might be surprised at how blinded you are by your own self-loathing. The people you compare yourselves to usually do not have it all together like you might imagine. Maybe they have a certain aptitude for the one aspect you are looking at. But, if you get to know the person better, you will realize that they struggle with other personal perceptions of failure and are working just as hard to project onto others how perfect their lives are. They are usually just as perfectly imperfect as you are.
Once you allow yourself to look at others with more open eyes, you can invite them into this open and accepting view. For example, if you let down your guard to someone you think you can trust, you will most likely open up a door for a real relationship. The other can then be honest with you in their struggles and you will feel more supported, known, and accepted than before. And vice versa. But this starts with your own honesty with yourself. An honesty that learns to say, “it’s okay not to be okay.”
“Another list,” you ask? Yes! However, this list is not a to do list. Jot down the things that you enjoy doing. Not things that make you feel productive. These are most likely the things you have brushed to the side because you do not have time for them anymore. Working out can be on this list, but be careful. Many times, it turns into an item you need to check off your list to stop the negative voices telling you that you weigh too much. Be honest — remember the above bullet point? Yes, this applies here. Be honest with yourself about the things that you add to this list.
Maybe you haven’t cooked anything fun in a while. Dig up your recipe book and enjoy a night in with someone you love as you try out a new dish. Maybe you tucked your paint brushes under the bed because there is simply not enough time to paint for fun and you are just too busy. Well stop being too busy for the things that you love. Painting, or whatever outlet you enjoy, will help you unwind from your busyness and unfold into the person you remember you used to be in a couple of dusty memories. The one who laughs, listens, and relishes moments. You will learn to love, accept, and cherish yourself for who you are if you let yourself enjoy the things that you love doing.