To me, the words self care sound almost indulgent, over the top. However, I've come to learn that self care is pretty frickin' important and can make or break my day. Whenever I get really stressed with school, overwhelmed with work, or my routine changes in some way, I pretty much give up. I hardly shower, eat mainly chocolate and toast, don't cut or paint my nails, don't moisturize, don't even wash my face, don't hang out with my friends, ignore my family, and sometimes even skip brushing my teeth and hair. I turn into this intense hermit cave-lady who hates everyone (except my pup) and refuses to leave her bedroom. Everything seems SO POINTLESS and I struggle to motivate myself to perform even the most basic of tasks. This past exam period has really made me realize how key it is for me to fight my basic turtle-ing instincts and focus on taking good care of myself, even ramp up my usual routine. Just a heads up - when I say self care, I don't mean stuff like taking saunas and getting acupuncture and doing crazy forms of intense yoga or meditating for 6 hours a day. It's more like the basic things we, like most mammals, need to thrive. Lots of good, nutrient dense food, water, consistent exercise, plenty of sleep, love, time with friends and family, etc. As I said before, these can easily fall by the wayside during busy or stressful times, which only makes things worse.
I've put together a list of the top 4 things that help me feel more solid during intense times. Next exam season or family reunion or crunch-time at work, maybe try giving these a go. The goal here is to keep swimming, not just float (and oftentimes in my case, flail).
1. The basics:
The classics - you know, showering, brushing your teeth and hair, washing your face, sleeping, etc. This may sound obvious, but trust me, once you stop doing 'em for a while, you realize how important they are - and not just on a superficial level.
There are tons of studies out there that show a clear link between taking some time (even if it's only 5 minutes) to meditate and being smarter, more relaxed, happier, and even healthier. Don't get freaked out by the stereotype of weird chants and uncomfortable positions! I use this cool app called Headspace (highly recommend), where this Scottish/British guy with a remarkably nice accent guides you through the whole thing, starting from Day One. Download the app (it's free) and give it a go. If you can't really see yourself meditating, even taking the time to just focus your breath can be beneficial.
I know, I know, the last thing you have time for is exercise. In fact, I feel like a total poser suggesting this because when I'm busy, exercise is the first to go. But seriously, it can be a total lifesaver. My mood goes up (after the first dreadful 5 minutes) and I ultimately end up being much more productive. Even just a quick walk can do the trick. Force yourself to put down the books, friend, and your body and mind will thank you. I feel like such a yuppie just writing that sentence, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
4. Date Yo'self
Take your sweet self out for coffee! Take an hour to sit in a warm shop, drink a cozy beverage of your choice, listen to the convos going on around you, and absorb it all. It is so relaxing. Also - hot tip - the ambiant noise in coffee shops is the exact right decibel level or some shit to help you work more efficiently. Oh man, I love spending time in coffee shops. Coming up soon is a guide to the best coffee shops in Ottawa, so keep your eyes peeled.
Good luck with your rough seas!