I get told by my peers and family tell me every day that I need to take care of myself. Due to my busy schedule of being a full-time student, working three jobs, and being involved in various school organizations, I do not disagree with their concerns.
More recently the term ‘burnout’ has become quite popular and relatable due to many young people (myself included) overworking and exhausting themselves from excessive and prolonged stress. What has been done to combat this overgrowing rate of individuals being mentally, emotionally, and physically drained from their busy working lives? Self-care, a term that has become a popular topic in young adult media and conversations. From what self-care doesn’t look like, to the best self-care practices, talking about self-care.
So, taking the advice of my loved ones and as well as listening to my mind, body, and soul, I decided to take on the challenge of consistent self-care methods. For a week, I tried out the general recommendations for self-care, and here’s what I experienced in that process.
I decided to take a simple start to this week of “me time” by removing the dead skin off of my face. Nearly every weekend, I see a “self-care Sunday” post of someone in a face mask. I am convinced that rubbing skin products onto my face will allow me to be as cool and relaxed as the people in those Instagram stories. I used a clay exfoliating mask about a half an hour before I planned to start my nighttime routine. As I waited for the mask to dry, I simply laid in my bed and rested my eyes, and then rinsed my face in the bathroom sink. Was it refreshing? Yes. Was it relaxing? Yes. Will I do this more than twice a week to take time for myself? Probably not because it only felt relaxing and refreshing for approximately 10 minutes after. As much as I wanted to seem like an actress for facial product commercials, it was only satisfying for approximately five minutes before my face started to shrivel up. I gotta keep my skin fresh though.
Days 2 – 3
Welcome to Lush, or more specifically, my bathroom. I had a long day of walking and standing, so I thought it would be best to lay down and read. I don’t often find time to read for leisure since most of the time I have a book in hand for classwork. I grabbed the hilarious autobiography, Binge, and cuddled into bed with my heated blanket and got lost in Tyler Oakley’s wild life stories. Then the next day, I decided to do the same thing, this time, in a bathtub filled with hot water and a bath bomb. I’m getting fancy here. Being able to be by myself and engaging in an easy-to-read lifestyle story was distracting in the best way possible. I was warm and away from my phone. I felt like these two simple tasks put me in such a relaxing place.
Fergie’s 2006 lyrics “I be up in the gym, just workin’ on my fitness” is the reason I get out of bed every morning and workout. Fitness is my usual form of escaping bits of reality, even though I still find myself sending emails and checking up on others during my warm ups. But today, I decided to only use my phone for music and focus on a more intense workout. I spent an hour in the gym, celebrating what my body can do while trying to ignore outside thoughts. After the rigorous movement, I sweat out my stress and fell asleep almost instantly after hitting my pillow to go to bed that night (amazing).
Since I got 8 hours of sleep the night before, I decided to continue my sleep patterns by making sure tonight I get a full eight hours of sleep. Since the year has started, I have been doing well with holding myself to a regular sleep schedule that allows for sufficient amounts of z’s, which is usually an average of 7 hours a night. However, I decided to get just an additional hour to see how much of a difference it would make. I fell asleep with rain sounds playing on my phone like I do every night and woke up ready to start the day with only a tiny amount of grogginess. I can understand why so many people recommend sleep as a form of self-care, it is one of the easiest forms because it’s so natural. It is also can give you that boost to have a kick ass day.
I’m constantly writing to-do lists and prioritizing all of my responsibilities on paper. I often write down goals and do a bit of self-reflection for just about 10 minutes (at max) a day. Today, I took an hour to evaluate myself and my life. It felt personal and very in the moment. I journaled in some goals, my emotions, and a basic update of what’s going on with Cheyann right then and there. I’m a writer, so of course it was a little bit of a relief to put my thoughts out on paper. But it also allowed me to be 100 percent present and mindful, which I feel like I push to the side at times.
News is around us every wakening second of our lives. Being a journalism major means this information floods my classroom more than other disciplines. Always trying to be “in the know” and aware of what’s going on in the world becomes exhausting. I felt that a good way to end the 7-day self-care streak would be to ignore the news for the 14 hours I am awake and would usually be consuming mass media. I was only on social media once per platform (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and decided not to visit any publication’s websites or watch cable television. Although it wasn’t completely avoidable (I’m telling you, this shit is everywhere), it gave me more time to breathe and worry about myself and those around me even more. Reading, viewing, and internalizing the news on any level are habits that people (especially me) do hours a day without even noticing it. So, taking this out of my life for the day (as much as possible) made me realize what I’m dedicating my energy to in specific moments throughout the day.
Committing each day to some sort of specific “self-care” method taught me that not everyone practices self-care in the same way. Caring for oneself means finding some peace and time to clear your mind. Self-care can show up in people’s lives in many different ways. With that, remind those around you to take care of themselves, but don’t tell them how to do that, because the method someone chooses to practice also depends on how they’re feeling and what recharges their mind, body, and soul in that very moment. Whether it’s as small as ignoring your email for an hour or binging your new favorite Netflix series for three hours, it is all up to the individual when the dedicate the time to it. So, schedule time in your busy schedule to focus on rejuvenating yourself and be present in whatever that experience is.
*Disclaimer: Self-care is not an effective form of treatment for serious mental issues. I was simply testing out these as short-form relaxation/de-stressing methods for my busy life/schedule.
Please use these resources or seek a nearby professional/services to find help for yourself or those around you who may need it:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255) or their Live Online Chat: suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Helpline
Crisis Text Line
Text CONNECT to 741741
National Eating Disorders Association Helpline
National Drug Helpline
National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline
The Trevor Lifeline (LGBTQ+)
866-488-7386 or text START to 678678
National Domestic Violence Hotline