Self Help

Tell Me About It: Defining the many aspects of self-care

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Q: What exactly is self-care? Life is chaos right now, lots of changes happening, little time to take it all in, responsibilities are adding up. I feel exhausted and overwhelmed and I feel like crying a lot. I’m already under a doctor’s care for anxiety and depression, so I don’t think it’s a full-fledged emergency, I just need the words to say to be able to take care of myself right now.

Chaos

A: It’s so individual in its details, but, in general, self-care is a focus on giving yourself what you need.

That can mean being careful to get enough sleep, to the point of enforcing a bedtime even if you haven’t finished everything you need to do; it can mean taking care to eat nutritious foods on a disciplined schedule instead of hosing bags of processed foods at 1 a.m. in an eff-it-all frenzy; it can mean saying “no” to things you normally say “yes” to because you recognize that every “yes” just adds to your to-do list; it can mean recognizing the time you spend scrolling your news feed is not arming you with enough useful information to justify the stress you take away from it through bad news or bad comparisons; it can mean canceling plans with people who tire you out and spending time (at least for now) only with people who are restorative.

It can mean simplifying as a rule: Every time you’re about to do something, ask yourself, is this necessary? Does it help?

It can mean returning to restorative practices that you’ve gotten away from or introducing ones that others count on but you’ve never tried: music, walking, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, reading, dance, naps, cardio, journaling, kickball, socializing, whatever fits your nature.

It means learning what you actually control and what you don’t and filling out your schedule accordingly.

Embrace impermanence. Every phase has a beginning, a middle and an end, and every phase has feelings associated with it. So, every feeling has a beginning, a middle and an end.

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