Possibly the biggest myth about self-care is the proposition that a list of random things written by someone else will work for most. It just doesn’t work that way, at all.
I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of Youtube videos on acts of self-care, in the midst of your most stressful episode at work or life in general. And they might have even worked for a day, or an hour or two; but there’s no real consistency when the subject line hadn’t come from you and you alone.
It sounds easy, and it even holds some logic behind its purpose, but I can’t dance to Blinding Lights, and chew on baby spinach for every issue or stressful situation I’m in. It doesn’t work for me, and I’m guessing it doesn’t work for you either. This blog isn’t meant to describe 10 types of self-care, revolutionary and never-before-seen things you should do. It’s more so going to persuade you to write those 10 things yourself and make a 100% customized system.
That’s the first step to self-care, think for yourself before anything else.
Keep a “Fake” Journal
Now hear me out on this.
You don’t have to, but it’s really handy to have a free chunk of paper reserved for your thoughts and feelings alone. Giving them a home and a space to exist outside of your head might resonate with you more than you’d think. Especially if you have a hard time opening up to folks, or telling them what makes you stressed.
But here’s the trick, a very creative one at that. Don’t write in black and white. What I mean by that, don’t write exactly what the situation was and how it made you feel. You don’t have to be as realistic on paper. It’s a blank page, create what you want, not what you have at your disposal.
For example, I love using metaphors or writing about my feelings through other characters or completely bogus scenarios. This is one of the best self-care journal ideas, truly. I leave parts of myself in other people on paper, so that I could see the situation from a third point of view. I want to see what it’s like to see me go through it, through other, non-existent people’s shoes which only exist between my pages.
You can essentially play God, and give yourself advice without having to try too hard. It’s much easier to look at someone else and say, “well yeah, they should do x, y, or z, it’s so obvious”.
But not as transparent when we’re directly staring at the mirror, I’m afraid.
Success and happiness are not always on the same ship
Isn’t it funny how we are nostalgic, even for times we didn’t even enjoy while they were happening? I would listen to a song I really enjoyed back in 2016 and get extreme nostalgia, despite that year not being the best. It’s really odd how very few people are actually capable of enjoying the moment when it’s here, alive and breathing. Not only after it has passed, only to be remembered through music or memories. I was at the heights of my career, still am, but I couldn’t shake off this feeling of dread, or dissatisfaction.
If my 13-year-old self saw my apartment, looks, or bank account, I think she’d be fairly impressed or pretty satisfied…Even happy to be growing up into who I currently am. So why don’t I feel that comfort, or happiness? I feel really detached from that little girl, almost as if I have no idea who she was anymore.
My really good friend pointed out that success and happiness are not always in alignment. You can be proud of what you’ve accomplished, but not happy, as it turns out, your happiness never depended on any of it. What it really means, is that during this chase or “hustle”, so to say, we have completely withdrawn ourselves from who we were as children, losing all means or routes to pure, and first-hand happiness.
Do you even remember what made you extremely excited and happy when you were a child? Things change, we mature, the Earth keeps spinning, we all know it, but that doesn’t equal a complete 180. When have we stopped listening to our inner child?
“I just need to lose some weight, get a better job, handsome partner, redo my hair and makeup routine and start doing X, Y, or Z and then I’ll be happy”.
No, just nourish your body, mind, and heart with what was always there, and all the rest will come naturally, I promise you. Always putting happiness on pause, to get “the best out of it”, while life just passes us by, only to represent nostalgic memories instead of genuinely happy ones.
Your child self would look at all of that and probably say “I mean that’s cool, I’m really happy for you but I just wanted a PS5, can we still get that? Thanks.”
Maybe listen to that kid every now and then, they are still there, you’re just not letting them see the light of day.
Listen to the random shit in your head
I’ve been waiting to talk about this one, and I have a feeling you know exactly what I mean. I have so many random thoughts that I have “no choice” but to kill throughout the day. Here are just a few examples, so you’d know what I mean:
- What would happen if I just dropped this plate on the ground?
- God, I want to paint a really big painting of abstract thoughts and hang it above my toilet.
- I want to read the Bible tonight.
- What the hell is an Exoplanet, let me find 35 documentaries on it.
- I oughta make some ajvar in 3 in the morning, homemade is better than store-bought.
- I really want to take my cat out for a walk.
- I don’t want to work on a Saturday, so what if I played WoW for 12 hours straight.
Thoughts are as stupid as, “what if I threw an egg at my window right now”, and so on. Just do it, honestly. It’s no more stupid than throwing a stress ball onto a wall or humming to tribal chants in form of meditation. Okay, so you threw a ceramic bowl on the ground, did it feel good? Great! Now take 5 minutes to clean it up, easy as that.
Try not to listen to some dangerous or anxiety-inducing thoughts, but shit like this is harmless and can genuinely relieve a lot of stress. So what, just because I’m 23, I can’t throw an egg on the floor for pure amusement? And going back to what I discussed previously, it’s what a kid would do, 10 times out of 10 so listen to them, even when it’s as stupid as throwing an egg to a window.
We always kill thoughts as random as these as “we don’t have enough time”, or, “this is stupid and childish”. Well, would it kill you to be a little bit spontaneous, and even childish every now and then? How’s that corporate life been going for you? I’m sure a kid in a mud puddle, playing with a stick has a better purpose and is much happier than you in your office space.
Now shut up, and throw a balloon on someone’s head from your window, or get some inspo from Kevin, from Home Alone. Call that self-care or a 7-day self-care challenge if you so desire.
Use nostalgia to your advantage
When I was younger, my mom and dad would always play hit movies from the 80s and 90s. I loved it, and watched them all with full focus.
Everything, from Big, starring Tom Hanks, to The Pelican Brief with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. The choices were endless, and these films have such a dear place in my heart. Now, every time I feel anxious or uneasy, I watch one or two, accompanied by the music my parents would play for me too. Not to remember the time back then, but to feel as I did, blissfully and ignorantly happy. My mind wasn’t overloaded with information, in a constant state of overthinking, I was barely thinking. And even when I was, it was about space or Madagascar the movie.
And I’d force myself to be as excited as I was back then, just to provoke that blissful happiness again, as I know it’s still there, it just takes a lot of digging. I’d even put on a face mask, as my mom did back then, get a glass of wine and watch these films, or read these books as if I don’t have a worry in my mind. I choose to look at worrying and worrisome thoughts, well, as a choice. It’s all imaginary.
We really suffer more from imagination than actual, surface reality, so what is the point of giving in to these feelings, when there is a big chance they are not even real!
Another great form on how to take care of yourself emotionally is by digging all the way to your roots. In other words, I love to look at my mom’s or grandma’s old pictures, and listen to their stories, just so I could have a bigger picture of who they used to be or how they were like back then, or when they were my age. It brings me so much comfort, I can’t even begin to explain it. It’s better than any of the self-care books I’ve ever read just so I could shit on them in all honesty.
Learn how to say NO
There’s not much I can say here, honestly, but it’s a great closer, a poetic one at that. You know when you want to say No, so please use it more often.
You don’t want to go out? No.
You don’t agree? No.
You don’t like this or that? NO!
Be respectful and kind, always, but before you do so towards other people, do it to yourself. And let that be the last “self-care rule” I have for you.