“Self-care” has been a big buzz word in the health and wellness community lately and it’s gotten a bad reputation. For those of us who do need self-care, it can often be stigmatizing to admit it to others.
People call ‘pampering’ self-care as a way of justifying their actions. While in some cases pampering may be legitimate, like an individual with diabetes who gets a pedicure to help maintain the health of their feet, often times it’s simply pampering for pampering’s sake.
As someone who suffers from depression and an eating disorder, self-care can, and is, much less glamorous than massages and shopping sprees.
Here’s the down and dirty on my personal list of self-cares:
Making my bed every day
This may sound odd to be on a self-care list but it’s one thing that I can do to start my day off the same no matter where I am. For me, routines help me feel grounded and less anxious so having a universal one is important. When I am at home I work out of my bedroom so having a put together space is one way that I also help myself feel more professional and, for lack of a better word, adulty.
Really there are several rules I follow for this one::
- Shower at least three times per week
- Brush my teeth every day
- Brush my hair every day
- Wash my face every day
I need to remind myself to do these things. There are days when I barely get to work and back. When I am at home all I want to do is sit on the couch with my cat and watch mindless TV. If I am having a bad day I can come up with phenomenal reasons to convince myself that I don’t need to take care of these things. “I’m not going anywhere (today/tomorrow).” “I don’t smell that bad.” “My teeth aren’t that bad.” “My skins not that dry.” “I’ll put on a headband.”
I will change out of my pajamas and put on clean clothes every day.
This one ties into hygiene but I keep it separate on my daily ‘checklist’ because depending on what my day is like it could mean many things. The biggest one here is that I cannot go to bed in my workout clothes for the next day, or from that day. If I am teaching group fitness or spending the day at the gym, yes most of my day is spent in stretchy clothes.
However, from personal experience, I have learned that if I stay in the clothes I slept in nothing will get done. It doesn’t matter if I’m having a good or a bad day, my motivation just goes right out the window.
I will make time for exercise at least 3 days per week.
I notice a huge difference in not only how I feel physically but mentally when I exercise regularly. The past two years has been an adventure in trying to figure out just what types of exercise I can handle without hurting myself. Hello, stress fractures from long distance running 😛 Knee pain from too much HIIT. Shoulder injuries from lifting too heavy.
Take my antidepressants daily
I have a bad habit of not refilling my little pill organizer when it runs out, for a couple of weeks. That isn’t going to be able to fly anymore. I recently started a new prescription for antidepressants after a long struggle with some internal demons and I’ve already started to notice such a positive difference that I cannot allow myself to screw it up.
Recognize and mitigate overeating triggers
While my antidepressants have gone a long way toward helping me control my emotional overeating, it is by no means gone. If I find myself in overly stressful situations my default is still to eat.
It’s not a specific trigger another cause is not getting enough sleep. If I don’t get about seven and a half hours of sleep a night my sugar binging skyrockets.
Another big one for me is stopping negative self-talk and self-harming behaviors. My self-harming behaviors centered around very unhealthy habits; like weighing myself multiple times a day, paying too much attention to what other people thought of me, and not honoring my own values.
Create healthy boundaries, especially with people who trigger my depression and overeating
I recently read an article on Yoga Approved about setting personal boundaries that highlighted the quote:
“Healthy boundaries are not walls. They are the gates and fences that allow you to enjoy the beauty of your own garden.” -Lydia H. Hall
For me, I have to be careful because sometimes I put up boundaries too quickly, or far too slowly. Learning to recognize the way I feel around certain people has helped me immensely.
This also applies somewhat to social situations. My anxiety leads me to try to protect myself from things that I find frightening, usually things that I have never done before. So I try to balance a desire to step outside my shell and a desire to avoid triggering situations.
As far as tips for making your own self-care guidelines I find that it’s hard for me to do. Self-care is deeply personal and unique to each individual. Usually, self care guidelines develop from years of struggle and coping mechanisms