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!