I was never any good at self-care. I was a typical teenager who ate and drank whatever and skimped on sleep. Soon after I was a young mother putting her kids first. That continued about 14 years until about four years ago when things had to change. At around the same time my depression and anxiety got worse and I started suffering from inflammatory arthritis and fibromyalgia. Self care had to become my priority. So how did I figure out what I needed? Mostly I just started with the basics.
I’ve always tried to keep my hydration at least at a bare minimum. When it gets too low I get a very bad headaches. Now, I’ve been diagnosed with low blood volume and dysautonomia which require me to hydrate more than the typical 8 cups a day. For most people though, drinking until your pee is light yellow is plenty. This may be more or less than 8 cups. The liquid in food helps too, so if you struggle to drink enough, remember that high water fruits and soups can help.
If I go too long without food, my blood sugar dips and my depression takes hold. I need to eat every 3-4 hours usually. Not everyone needs to eat as often, but be sure you eat regularly for your body. Don’t skip meals, and snack if you need it. Food is fuel, and your body requires plenty.
I’ve also learned what type of foods make me feel better and what doesn’t. I know I need the right mix of protein and carbs to feel good. Other people feel better with their own mix. Whatever kind of foods that make you feel best is your right way to eat.
This one is still hard for me. I need plenty of sleep to help manage multiple conditions. I’m also a night owl, and those two don’t always mesh well. I try to make it a priority to get to bed at a reasonable hour most of the time. I’m lucky enough to be able to nap on the days I need it. Sleep is important, so I don’t let myself feel guilty if I need more.
Find out how much sleep you need and make it a priority. Take a look here and see if you can improve your sleep hygiene any. A longer and deeper sleep will be better for you.
Quiet time by myself
I’m married with four kids; quiet time is hard to come by, and it’s even rarer to get it by myself. Not everyone finds this necessary, but as an introvert, I find it vital. My anxiety goes up if I don’t get enough alone time. If I can get even 10-30 minutes alone in my room, it helps a ton. The rare days that I can get an hour or more, I make sure to take it, no guilt involved. The wasn’t always the case, but I’m a better person all around if I get my alone time.
Past the common self-care basics
Like my quiet time, not everyone’s necessities are the same. Sit down and think about what makes you function best. What makes you feel off if it is left out? That is how I figured out I need to be sure to shower every other day. I’ve learned that I’m likely to want to skip a shower when my depression is acting up. As part of my self-care when it comes to depression, I make sure I don’t let myself skip a shower if at all possible. If I find myself dreading shower time, I know I need to get one anyway and then do some extra self-care to help fight the depression.
Once you have your basics figured out and are able to take care of them regularly, then you can expand and add more into your self-care routines. Start small though so you don’t get overwhelmed and burned out right away.
If you have any questions or requests for more on self-care and working out your routines, leave a comment or feel free to email me!
Sometimes it’s fun to have a spa day at home. You get to pamper yourself in the comfort of your own space. It may be the introvert in me that prefers that, I’m not sure. Anyway, when you plan a spa day, you either make sure you have stocked up on your favorite products, or plan to make some yourself.
Personally, I enjoy making them myself if it is cheap and easy to do. I have a Pinterest board filled with DIY recipes that are, for the most part, simple and use ingredients you can find at your local store. Most are untried by us, so my daughter and I tried five recipes to share with you.
We found the optional olive oil in this recipe didn’t mix in well, so we recommend leaving it out. It did a great job exfoliating in the shower, and my daughter gave it two thumbs up. She chose lavender E.O. to add to it, but there are a few to choose from at Walmart, Walgreens, etc.
I couldn’t find raspberry lemonade, so we used pink lemonade. This turned out very sour, so I wonder if you are meant to use the “sugar added” type. According to C, this DIY version works even better than my store bought lip scrubs. She gives it two big thumbs up, so I plan on figuring out how to lessen the pucker level.
Unrefined coconut oil gives you the coconut scent, but you can go with the refined type if you would rather scent it with essential oils. Although it doesn’t affect the scrub any, I’m not thrilled that this separates out as it sits. You aren’t going to want to make it too far ahead of when you plan on using it, or give it as a gift. That said, it did a lovely job as a scrub and left C’s skin very soft.
C was most excited to make and try this one. She was frustrated to read they have to sit at least 6-8 hours (overnight is even better).
I almost didn’t include it because of the dried lemon rind ingredient. It cost more than I wanted to spend at the store. Instead, I bought three lemons to zest myself, but ended up not having near enough once we dried it in the oven. We estimate we had maybe a 1/2 T compared to the 3-4 T it called for. To make up for it, we chose to add a couple extra drops of E.O.
We haven’t been able to use them in a bath yet, but I can already report that they are sorta a flop. When I tried to get them out of the molds this morning, they crumbled all over. They aren’t holding together at all. 🙁 (UPDATE: Most of the bath bombs actually did pop out ok, and my kids had fun using them in baths. This was a bigger win than expected, but we plan on searching for another recipe we like better.)
We haven’t had a chance to test this one. It was very simple to mix up, and should store well in an airtight container.
We just used the non-fat that is found at the store, since I couldn’t find “whole fat dried milk”. Whole oatmeal can possibly clog your drain, and that isn’t very relaxing, so I like using ground up oatmeal for this.
My daughter and I had so much fun making these up to test out. If you would like us to do this again with some more recipes, let us know in the comments. Feel free to share your favorite recipes too! I’d be happy to pass those on to my other readers.
I’ve been told by my friends that I have awesome “Google Fu” skills. Maybe that’s why I love looking up things, or maybe I have great skills because I love the search. Either way, I spend a lot of time searching either Google, or more likely, Pinterest, for any and everything I’m interested in learning about. I have quite the personal Pinterest account, and my blog’s account is getting there too. With over a thousand pins (after only 3 months), there is a ton of info to go through. I thought it would be helpful to round up some of my favorite, most useful pins that I’ve found to share in one place, and so this resource round-up was conceived!
First, if you are new here, you might want to check out this post and this one, to see what this “self-acceptance” thing is all about. Now for some great links.
“Radical acceptance doesn’t mean you approve of what happened, you can hate it. It doesn’t mean that once you accept the situation you will become soft or allow other bad things to happen to you. This is fear-based thought. The truth is, you can’t change the situation, but you can change how you want to live your life”
Do yourself a favor and go check out the rest of the post. You will never regret it.
Self Esteem Interactive Online Tool – A note to my readers on their mobile devices, this link is going to work much better on a computer. Bummer. But, it is worth getting your butt to a computer to check it out. This interactive tool from Simply Stepping is such a wonderful idea! I’ve, personally, never seen something like it when it comes to self-esteem/love tools. It really does a great job visually demonstrating how to replace those negative thoughts we all have.
Self love can feel wrong at first if you are new to it. It isn’t narcissism or selfish. It is vital. I haven’t written anything solely focused on it yet, but I have some great links to share.
What Self-Love Means – There is so much I love about the Tiny Buddha site, and this article is no exception. Please check it out. Banu Sekendur has many examples listed out, and simply makes understanding this concept as basic as possible. This is an excellent post all around.
Daily Self-Love Checklist – I just love this idea. Please click on the link to go to her site, and actually download the list. You will get a much better quality list if you do that rather than try to just save it from here. (Disclaimer: I do not support or encourage any type of dieting. I am a firm believer that the diet culture needs to be left far behind us. More on that later.)
22 Ways to Love Yourself More – This post by Sharon Martin has terrific ideas for showing yourself some love. I enjoy the included graphic that summarizes it. Do visit the link though since she expands a bit on each idea listed.
How to Fall In Love With Yourself – I love this post as a “how to” fall in love with yourself and not another “ways to” show yourself love. Being told how to show yourself love is all well and good, but it’s like being told to hug your pain-in-the-ass sister/brother as a child. This article helps you to find that love for yourself that may be hiding for now. Marelisa Fabrega of Daring To Live Fully does such a wonderful job getting the “how” across to her reader.
Self care is extremely important. I have touched on it a few times here and here. There will be more in the future. I have found some great links on the subject as well.
First I have this great graphic. The link on Pinterest didn’t go back to the original creator, so I’m not linking back. Instead, here is Pamela Redmond Satran’s site.
10 Scientific Ways to Become Happier – I am a firm “believer” in science. Mention something that doesn’t have peer reviewed science behind it, and I’m going to give you a raised eyebrow. That is why I was so tickled to see this chart. Each approach included has actual science behind it as to why it works. If you click the link, the article has some links to articles that explain the science.
Quick Solutions for Panic Attacks – This chart has simple, quick ways to try to get a leg up on a panic attack. I love the simplicity, and how user friendly it is. You can easily print it out, cut out the examples, and keep them handy for any panic attack. In addition, Simply Stepping has a post about panic attacks and what to do right on that page. There is also a link to a one on one session for more anxiety support.
How to Create a Self-Care Plan, And Why You Need One – Sometimes we just need someone to hold our hands to get something done. That’s why I think this is a great post to check out. Morgan, owner of the blog Enlightened State, does just that when it comes to a self care plan. She explains why you need one, gives an example (of her’s!) and even offers a free printable worksheet if you need it. So great!
Create an Emergency Self-Care Kit – Self care kits are awesome to keep on hand for when you are having a bit (or a lot) of a breakdown, and need to take care of yourself, but can’t think of what you need. Jenny, of Inky Paws Art, shows you hers and has a great visual full of suggestions for you to use to make your own. Make sure you check it out!
Big List of Self-Care Activities – Shaunacey, of Simply Shaunacey, has created a wonderfully long list of self-care activities to check out. When you are making up your own list of ideas for planning out your self-care, visit this page and give this list at least a once over.
Sometimes you find you need more to your life, a purpose that is more than just living day to day. I looked for mine for a long time, and I know it is a terrible feeling to live with. So, I have compiled a variety of pins with ideas on how to find your purpose or lead a more fulfilling life in general.
9 Ways to Figure Out What You’re “Meant” To Do – Brianna Wiest, an author at Bustle has nine great questions for you to ask yourself. Once you get to the end of the list, there is an excellent chance you will have an idea of what you are “meant” to do in this world. At the very least, you should learn more about yourself, and it is always nice to have more insight to your inner workings.
4 Signs You Aren’t Living Your Purpose – Be sure to click on the link and enjoy the post related to this graphic. Rachael, author of the blog HerAfter, has plenty more to offer on these points, and it is well worth your time to go read it.
Any of these three work for you? Need different ideas, or just want to do more reading on this subject? I have plenty more on my Pinterest board.
That’s all I have this time. Let me know if you liked this idea, and I’ll be sure to make up another resource roundup in the future. Remember, I have a lot more pinned over at Pinterest, and I’ll be adding more all of the time.
I actually had another post planned for today. I’ve been trying to finish it for days, and last night I had to concede that it wasn’t going to happen. My depression has acted up, and that makes writing hard. My brain just won’t cooperate. So I was lying in bed trying to figure out how I was going to have a post for today, and I remembered what I wrote at the end of February.
The last time my depression surfaced, I got up in the middle of the night and wrote about it. It was a way for me to work through my thoughts. I’m sharing it with you today.
My Mental Health
If I remember right, this is my third time being on medication for mental health. I really think this is the best I’ve ever felt while medicated. (My mental health seems to be at the very best when I’m pregnant.) Yet, I still find myself randomly spiraling down into depression. It will come out of nowhere and surprise me. I don’t usually see it coming. Suddenly I get irritable for no reason, or I abruptly lose interest in what I’m doing. Sometimes there is no other clue, but no matter what I find myself curled up in bed unable to care about anything.
“Oh, hi there old friend. I recognize you. Why are you back? Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
All I can do is ride it out. Fighting the negative thoughts used to be too exhausting. I just let myself wallow in them. If they got too overwhelming, I would tell the worst to my husband. He is my best friend and my rock. I trust him to tell me the truth, and so I can believe him when he argues with my dark thoughts.
I’ve practiced countering negative thoughts long enough, that I try to not wallow now. I can’t make the feelings go away, but I do my best to interrupt each dark train of thought. I don’t let my mind meander down those paths unsupervised. Instead, I take my own hand and gently lead myself back toward the bright reminders I have stored for just these times. I also try to distract myself. I’ll play games on my phone, scroll through Pinterest, watch Netflix, or rewatch some favorite YouTube videos. I now have some playlists of helpful songs on YouTube too.
Thankfully, since my most recent increase in my medicine, these spirals only last a few hours now. They used to last a few days. This one has been about 8 hours so far. It probably doesn’t help that it started around suppertime. It helps to have some length of day ahead to try to do something. I tried to sleep for awhile at bedtime, but I took an hour nap and that was apparently all my body wanted. So, for now, I find myself awake, moved into the living room, eating a poptart and writing this at 2:30 am. I’m hoping that getting it all out will clear my head, and it will let me sleep.
Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep soon.
When I first started on meds, I hoped to not need them someday. I was 22. Now, at 37, I accept I will likely be on meds the rest of my life. It honestly doesn’t bother me. My brain needs something to help it function, the same as my mom needs insulin, and I need to stay on medication to keep my inflammatory arthritis from progressing.
How do I know the medicine is working if I still find myself in this condition occasionally? I finally am able to feel happy; happier than I remember feeling for years. I actually have fun doing things. I laugh louder, longer, and more than ever. I want to make plans. I’m writing this blog. 😀
I wrote this as my own therapy to get out of my funk, but why post it? To be real, for one. Also, I want people to know that recovery from mental illness is not a straight line. There are ups and downs. The important bit is that we keep going. Progress is progress, even if it is slow. So I had a setback. It will pass. It always does.
I hope this post can make a difference for even one person. If I can make anyone feel less alone, more understood, or help in anyway, then it was worth it. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment. I’d love to connect on Twitter or Instagram too!
The time change in spring and fall is rough on most people who have to go thorough it. I’m not sure if anyone outside the U.S. does Daylight Savings, but I know that there are only a few lucky states that don’t. (I’m so jealous!) To try to help at least a few more people to get the rest they need, I researched some DST sleep tips.
Daylight Savings Tips
I think the best tip I found was to gradually transition over a few days. Starting a few days ahead of time, go to bed 15 mins earlier each night until you have adjusted an hour. If you aren’t able to spread it over enough days beforehand, continue to go to bed early a few days after the change.
If you find yourself sleepy the day of the time change, try to slip a 20 min nap in during the day to recharge. Keep it to no longer than 20 though, or you will mess with your next night’s sleep.
Give yourself plenty of wind down time since you are going to bed earlier. Turn off the TV, laptop, etc. at least an hour or two before bed. Put your phone aside too. Try listening to some relaxing music and/or reading instead.
Even if you don’t usually avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, go ahead and do it for the next few days. You might as well not make the transition any harder than needed.
Another thing to try over the next few days is to make sure you get some sun exposure immediately after getting up in the morning. This helps with the setting of your internal clock.
All of the sleep tips in this post should help also.
Check those clocks!
Finally, something to watch out for with your clocks. Many devices automatically change the time for DST now. That’s really helpful, but it can be problematic also. You don’t want to forget to change a clock you rely on. So, walk through your house and lay eyes on each clock you have. Make sure each one has been adjusted for the time change. Don’t forget your car clock also!
Hopefully these tips will help you ease the transition this weekend. Do you have any other go-to tips you use each year? Share below! Also, feel free to come back and let me know how it went!
In the U.S., the week before Daylight Savings Time, in March, is National Sleep Awareness Week. Proper sleep is extremely important to self care, so I thought I’d touch on proper sleep hygiene today.
What is sleep hygiene?
According to sleepfoundation.org, “Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.”
Why is it important?
Good quality sleep is vital to good physical and mental health. Adults and children both sleep better when good sleep hygiene practices are used.
The most important part of sleep hygiene is to spend the right amount of time asleep in bed. Too much sleep can be just as disruptive to your health as too little. The right amount varies by the individual, but here is a chart that gives some age guidelines.
Some other elements to sleep hygiene include:
Limit daytime naps to 30 mins. Obviously this doesn’t apply to children. Naps are an important part of an infant’s sleep. For adults although, naps don’t make up for a crappy night’s sleep, a short cat nap may help you be more alert and improve your mood enough to get through the day.
Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine right before bedtime. Some sources recommend stopping caffeine at least 6 (and up to 12) hours before bed, if you are especially sensitive to it. Alcohol before bed can be disruptive to your sleep also. It is known for helping a person to relax and fall asleep, but too much right before bedtime is not good. It can interrupt the sleep cycle the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol.
Another way food can mess with your sleep is by giving you indigestion. This can lead to painful heartburn at bedtime. Heavy, rich foods; fatty or fried meals; spicy foods, citrus foods, and carbonated beverages can all have this result. Of course, not everyone has this reaction. If you do find yourself struggling with it, keep a food diary for a couple weeks, and see if you can find the culprit.
Regular exercise should help promote better quality sleep. Even as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, such as walking or cycling, can drastically improve nighttime sleep quality. Even so, you should avoid strenuous workouts right before bed, since that can make for a restless night. If the only time you have for exercise is right before bedtime, make it a leisurely walk or bike ride as opposed to Zumba.
If you don’t already have one, develop a bedtime routine. Routines are a recommendation for children and adults alike. A regular routine helps your body and mind recognize what is coming next and helps it ease toward bedtime. It can be as complex or as simple as you like.
Some things you might include are: brushing teeth, a relaxing bath, reading, some mindfulness or breathing exercises, yoga stretching, journaling, listening to soothing music, or having a relaxing drink or light snack.
Check your sleep environment. Comfort is the overall plan here. A good pillow and mattress are very important. Make sure you have the right amount and weight of blankets. Some people sleep better feeling the weight of the blankets, but if it overheats you, you aren’t going to sleep well. A cool room, between 60-67 degrees, is optimal for sleep. Make your room as dark as possible, and limit blue light. Consider blackout curtains or an eye mask if you can’t darken the room enough otherwise. Ear plugs, white noise machines, humidifiers, fans, etc can all increase your comfort also.
Finally, check your natural light exposure. People who get more natural light during the day have been found to sleep better. If you can’t get out more throughout the day, or open windows to increase your exposure, try to find time first thing in the morning to get that sunlight.
Hopefully, a combination of these tips can help you to improve your sleep quality. If you don’t find yourself sleeping better after a good amount of time, be sure to talk to your doctor. They will want to help you figure out better sleep so you can be as healthy as possible.
An overview of self care and many of it’s aspects.
A – Alone time – This is very important. Alone time gives us quite a few benefits. You can read about some here.
B – Bath – Baths are a great way to practice self care. They are great for relaxing, relieving sore muscles, and some quiet alone time.
C – Chocolate – Chocolate, or any treat you enjoy, should always be a part of your self care routine.
D – Daily – Self care is not a special treat. It should be something you do daily. Setting up a small routine during the day, or before bed, helps it to become a habit.
E – Exercise – I’m not talking about something done as punishment here. Exercise is something that should be rewarding. Some gentle, daily movement does wonders for your mind and body. Take a walk, dance around to your favorite music, etc. Make it fun!
F – Facial – A facial can be a fun thing to pamper yourself with now and again.
G – Groove – Get your groove on with some music! Music is simply a great thing.
H – Hydration – Keep hydrated. Everything falls apart if you try to function at a constant level of dehydration.
I – Important – Self care is important. In fact, it is vital. It reduces the negative effects of stress, and helps prevent burnout. It helps to maintain good mental and physical health.
J – Journaling – Journaling has been shown to have many benefits. It doesn’t have to be in a “dear diary” way, there are many journaling methods. I plan on revisiting this topic another day.
K – Kit – Making a self care kit can be extra helpful for someone who has anxiety or otherwise has trouble taking a moment for themselves. Having soothing items already gathered takes the guess work out of it.
M – Medication – Medication is vital to some people’s self care. Not everyone can deal with mental or physical illness with only good food and exercise. If your body requires medication to function at its best, make sure you take it as directed.
N – Nest – A nest made up of your most comfy, soft pillows and blankets is a great spot for a self care session.
O – Outside Time – Spending time outside is important for more than a dose of vitamin D. It has also been shown to improve your creativity and cognitive function.
P – Pedicure – A pedicure/manicure is another way to use self care time to pamper yourself.
Q – Quiet Time – We spend so much of the day surrounded by noise. Silence can be hard to come by, but some scheduled quiet time can do much for our health and mind.
R – Relaxation – I think everyone knows the benefits of relaxation. Many times self care and relaxation are a perfect fit.
S – Social – Self care is not only a solo event. There is a social element to it. We need love, affection, and a feeling of belonging to maintain our mental health. Make sure your social needs are getting filled by planning a get together with a good friend, lunch with your mom, a date with a loved one, etc.
T – Therapy – Therapy is not only for the “crazy”. Anyone can benefit from it, so don’t tell yourself you aren’t “bad enough” or think that it says something bad about you.
U – Understanding Yourself – With regular practice, self care helps you to understand more about yourself. Making sure I have eaten regularly, am hydrated, and am rested has helped me to better pinpoint when I need any of those things, for example.
V – Voluntary – Participating in voluntary self care now will help to ward off possible illnesses and other health problems in the future, which will then force you to slow down and take care of yourself.
W – Waking – I know, I already mentioned walking up at “E”, but there is more to it than just the exercise you get. There are mental benefits also.
X – Xanadu – Xanadu, ˈza-nə-ˌdü , is described as a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment. Finding such a place to spend some time in would be well worth the effort.
Y – Yoga – Many people use yoga as a way to exercise, relax, spend time alone, etc.
Z – Zen – Zen is defined as a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation. Many people use “Zen” to refer to being very calm and relaxed. I hope you are able to find a sense of being so calm and relaxed by practicing some daily self care.
“Pain is not a competition. Just because someone, somewhere may have had worse in their life, it doesn’t excuse or erase your pain.”
This quote has meant so much to me over the past couple of years. I feel it applies to everyone, no matter what kind of physical, mental, or emotional pain they may have.
Pain is pain
If you are affected by depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, you may have a tendency to feel your condition isn’t as bad compared to other people. In fact, I had no idea how bad my depression had gotten this last time. I slowly got used to the “new normal” of each decline farther into depression, and compared myself to others who I saw as “worse off”. Given those goal posts, I just didn’t think my depression was that bad. People struggling with mental illness or emotional pain can also feel their struggles aren’t important because they are told so. Have you been told to suck it up, because others are worse off? The fact is, everyone’s feelings and thoughts matter. Even though there may be people worse off, it doesn’t negate your struggle.
People with chronic pain or illnesses find themselves in the same position. Their friends and/or family, not to mention society, are not very supportive. So many people in this position are demoralized by being told their pain isn’t enough. They are told to “suck it up” because someone else judges their condition to not be severe enough.
It isn’t an exclusive membership
As a member of both groups, I’m telling you that your pain counts even if you aren’t in either group. The only person you should ever compare yourself to is yourself. Even then, sometimes you should just focus on how you feel in the moment. If you think it is bad, then it is, and you should have compassion for yourself, and care for yourself.
This is why comparing pain can be so detrimental to your health. If it leads you to putting off care, that is a bad thing. Please don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Your health and happiness is important. It is just as important as the next person.
Do you have a quote that means a lot to you, or has gotten you through hard times? Please feel free to share in the comments. I would love to hear from you. ❤