what self-care looks like for me

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Honestly, I wish there was some cool story behind why I’ve been MIA for the past two months. But every time I take a blog hiatus, the reason is more or less the same – I’ve been busy with work, friends, family. And with everything going on in my life, I’ve also been trying to take care of myself more often.

Self-care is a term that gets thrown around a lot. More recently it’s become synonymous with face masks, bubble baths and eating ice-cream from the tub. But while treating yourself can be an valid form of self-care, there’s a lot more to it than that. At least for me, self-care involves taking steps towards becoming the best version of myself. And yes, it can actually be hard work. Here are just some ways I’m trying to incorporate self-care into my lifestyle:

Dressing to impress (myself).

Who knew something so simple could be a form of self-care? For someone who rarely goes out, I spend a lot of time thinking about clothes. Like most people, I love wearing things that make me feel like the best version of myself. And on the flip side, if I’m wearing something uncomfortable it can totally throw off my day.

For some people, focusing on appearances might seem totally superficial, and the opposite of what self-care is all about. But really, it’s about valuing yourself, and believing that you deserve to wear nice things. For me, that means planning my outfits and slapping on makeup, even though I literally stare at a screen all day for work. Style is one of many ways you can exert control over how you feel about yourself, and add a little spring to your step.

Making plans with friends.

As an introvert, I probably get a little too excited when someone cancels plans with me. But as much as I love a cosy night in, I do make an effort to leave the house every now and then! After all, while plenty of me-time may feel good, you know there’s something wrong when you consistently avoid other humans in the name of ‘self-care’.

Sometimes, it doesn’t even happen intentionally. When life gets in the way, it’s  easy for me to slip into hermit mode, and drift away from the people in my life. That’s something I’m trying to change, whether it’s by being the one to initiate conversation or plan an overdue catchup. After all, as much as I dread going out sometimes, I never really regret it. While it can be a pain to coordinate schedules, my friendships are stronger when I put in the effort to maintain them.

Resting when I need to.

It may sound obvious, but this habit is such a hard one to maintain! When I don’t get enough sleep, it’s usually a sign that the rest of my life is out of whack. These days I try to sleep at a decent time, and rarely go to bed after midnight. But even then, I want to start pushing my bedtime earlier.

Getting enough rest goes beyond your sleep schedule, too. Sometimes it means taking time off when you’re sick. Or it can mean using your commute time to relax and collect your thoughts, rather than feeling the need to use every spare minute productively. In the past I’ve made the mistake of overdoing it, to the point of exhaustion. But these days, I’m trying to be more mindful and actually listen to my body, especially when it’s telling me to get some damn rest.

Taking up hobbies for the fun of it.

I have a weird relationship with blogging. As much as I love it, there will always be some sort of pressure to post regularly, as long as people keep reading! While I’m not stopping anytime soon, lately I’ve been embracing hobbies that are purely for my own enjoyment. Ones that I can experiment with, and pick up again whenever the mood strikes. For me, it might be a watercolour painting here, or a bad ukulele session there. Either way, there’s something freeing about trying something new and being a complete newbie at it.

Time and time again, I’ve met people who put off starting a blog or some other hobby because they’re afraid they’ll suck at it. But the truth is, you don’t have to be good at your hobbies for them to be worth spending time on. Setting aside time to do something you enjoy is a huge part of self-care, and something I want to do more often.

Going to therapy.

Because sometimes, self-care means letting others help you when you can’t do it on your own. I’ve spoken about my health here before. But for some reason, it’s so much easier to talk about that than the mental side of things. Recent developments (not the good kind) have made it really hard for me to cope, so I decided to get professional help. Honestly, it’s about time too. I’d already been feeling down for half a year, but when it turned into full-on meltdown I knew I had to do something about it.

In the past, my way of coping with chronic illness was to not cope with it at all. And for a while, it worked. Keeping the sadness to myself was a pretty effective way of tricking myself into believing everything was fine. But some time in the past year, there was a moment when I realised that I’d have to let go of certain freedoms. The life I’d previously imagined for myself. And for me, accepting that has been harder than any of the other shit things that come with chronic illness.

After doing a self-care assessment, I was surprised to see that things I never would have associated with self-care actually fall under that category! So I’m curious to know – what does self-care look like for you?