Self care has become a priority for a lot of people in an increasingly stressful world. Thanks largely to sites like Tumblr and Pinterest, the perception of what self care is can be is largely limited. What springs to mind when you think of self care? Netflix, ice cream, a bubble bath… all things that certainly count as self care, but they don’t even come close to being the full extent of things you can do to look after your body and mind. Sometimes self care can be a difficult thing to achieve.
One of the main things I learned in 2021 is that sometimes, taking a mental health day just doesn’t cut it. It can certainly help, but I’ve found that the reasons for me needing to take that day in the first place are still there the next day. As someone who has suffered from mental health issues in the past, this is not me saying that taking days for yourself is fruitless, nor is what I’m going to say in the rest of this blog insinuating that you just need to ‘pull yourself together’. This is my personal experience of getting to a place where I’m confident in saying I am not only fully recovered, but constantly pushing to ensure that I am happy and fulfilled in the aspects of my life that I can control.
This is what I did and continue to do with my self care.
I started exercising to lose weight as I’m sure many people do. Starting my fitness journey from a place of hatred for myself was not only unbeneficial for my mental health, but also my physical health. It wasn’t until I was taking part in a particular fitness programme that my whole perception of exercise changed. The trainer mentioned how grateful she was to everyone who followed the workout that day and how everyone should be proud that they took time out of their day to do something to take care of their body and mind.
That was when it clicked. My whole outlook on fitness was warped. When I really thought about what it is I wanted from exercising, I realised that I liked how it made me feel afterwards, and becoming stronger gave me a sense of confidence in myself that I had never experienced before. Now, whether it’s running, strength training, or HIIT, I put my all into it, not because I have a desperate need to change the way my body looks, but because I deserve to feel good. I deserve that time to take care of my body.
Once I realised what self care could look like, I started assessing other areas of my life where I perhaps wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I could. I had a love of writing that I’d nurtured from a young age, but had somehow convinced myself that I didn’t have the time to write a novel like I’d always dreamed. Neither did I have the skill or commitment to do it at all. When lockdown hit, I saw no reason why I couldn’t write a novel. I took part in programmes like NaNoWriMo just to see what I was capable of achieving.
Since then, I have written two full novels and I am currently working on the third. Were the first two any good? Maybe after a couple hundred more rounds of edits. The point is that I did myself the kindness of giving it a go. Now that I’ve allowed myself the time to practice,
I would say that my writing has seen a significant improvement, and the novel I’m working on now might even have a chance at getting published. That never would have happened if I hadn’t listened to myself and did something that was scary and difficult, but oh so worth it.
Doing What’s Right
One of the most valuable things that self care got me is my place at The Juice Academy. The truth is that I almost didn’t apply. I wasn’t happy in my employment at the time and I knew that the apprenticeship was the thing I needed. The problem was, it was scary. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I didn’t even get past the interviews? So I scrolled past the application.
It wasn’t until days later that I forced myself to apply. If I didn’t, I knew I’d regret it more than if I went for it and nothing came of it. It was terrifying, but I did it. I ended up getting a surprise interview with a company that I instantly knew I wanted to work for, and two days later, I was offered a place on their team. If I hadn’t made the decision to override my own anxieties for the sake of doing what was right for me, I would not be where I am today.
Take Care of Yourself
I would actively encourage all those reading this to really take some time and evaluate what self care looks like for you. To reiterate, self care is not always easy; it can be difficult and scary, but can be used as a means to push yourself to new heights and get the most out of what you know you can achieve. Whether that’s applying for that job you’ve been umming and ahhing about or something as simple as making yourself get out of bed to go for a walk, always keep your best interests at the forefront of your mind. Take care of yourself. The rest will come.
Olivia Kidd, Cohort 32, Junior Content Specialist at Sync