On every newsstand and website, there are thousands of articles and lists about self-care. It can be quite overwhelming to navigate all of it. Students and adults are already stressed over classes, bills, tests, internships, jobs and so much more. Amid all of this, we keep hearing the same advice on how to take care of ourselves. Exercise all the time, eat healthier, go for a walk, “treat yo’ self" and the list keeps going. This is not to say that this advice is bad. A healthy body does lend itself to a healthy mind, but self-care and self-love are so much more than the tips we keep hearing. With that in mind, here are some other tips that tend not to make the headlines.
Learn to be okay. 18-25-year-olds are so engaged in competition, at school and in the workforce, that we lose sight of where we stand in order to compare ourselves to others. Be mindful of this. You are not in direct competition with anyone else. Even if you are competing for a job or a grade, the outcome does not determine your worth. Just because you don't make it to the gym every day does not make you a bad person. Learn to look in the mirror and be okay with what you see. Maybe you did not get the job, but you learned that company might not be the best for you. Maybe your body doesn't look exactly how you would like it to, but you woke up today--your legs carried you to where you needed to go, and your smile may have brightened up someone's day. Our society has taught us to be so quick to pick on ourselves if we are not climbing mountains, getting a degree or landing that dream job out of college, but it is okay if all you do today is finish the laundry, write that paper or take your dog for a walk. Sometimes we need days like that to remind us that life is not solely a race to the finish line, and that is okay!
Force yourself to have a life. Maybe you are that student that spends all night in the library, or maybe you are that employee that brings work home with you each night. It doesn't have to be that way. Set a rule. Maybe you want your nights back, so you decide that you won’t do work past 7 pm. You might be thinking that will never work or that you have too much to do, but efficiency is a learned skill. Try this for a week and you may find yourself focussing more on the task at hand. Maybe now you'll have time to cook a healthy dinner or go to the gym rather than living off of coffee and stress. You are free to adjust this to best fit your life and what you want to do. You might even choose to reclaim your mornings, too, and set your alarm for an hour earlier so you have time for a cup of coffee or to cook breakfast. Whatever helps you to find peace in this crazy world is perfect.
Self-care is not always painting your nails and going to the gym. Sometimes it is simply learning to be okay with yourself, your limitations and your faults. And sometimes it is reorganizing for success or even forcing yourself to prioritize so you have more time to take care of yourself. There is no right and wrong way to take care of yourself. As long as you are taking care of your mental and physical well-being, you are on the right track. So take this advice and learn and grow with it. Perhaps it will help you find peace and inspiration or simply act as a reminder to breathe and live in the moment.