I’ve been thinking a lot recently about self-care, that’s right, the millennial, snowflake obsession with self indulgence. Or not. It still baffles me that millennials seem to have taken a hit for what is essentially 1. wanting all people to feel included, represented and safe to live their lives and 2. prioritising good mental health practises and looking after their wellbeing. Self care is hugely important for this generation where we pay extortionate amounts of rent (i calculated I’ve spent £56,000 in 7 years which makes me feel a tad nauseous) and will probably still be working as we crawl onto our deathbed. If we are going to spend most of our lives working (and lets face it if you’re in healthcare or the charity sector you probably will) then at the bare minimum we should be investing in our mental health if we can’t invest in a home.
Self care is often viewed as a luxury but really it’s just common sense, that’s not to say everyone has regular time to do so but it should still be a priority. From a selfish perspective it allows us to recharge and feel calm and grounded but even altruistically self care allows us to be present and engaged with those around us. Self care is also about insight and the ability to reflect and vocalise your needs. Last week was ridiculously busy, i did long hours at work to make up some time i was having off and then a heavy bout of socialising; all nice things but pretty full on, particularly for someone who lives alone. These days i really notice that i feel pretty stressed out when i don’t have the option of having down time on my own, it leaves me feeling a bit claustrophobic and anxious. I also find bitty days and being busy in lots of areas difficult, last Wednesday i had an important meeting all day and then a 30 minute gap to rush to a hospital appointment where i manged to lose myself in a maze of corridors leading me to promptly burst into tears on arrival. Luckily for me it was therapy which is the best type of appointment to arrive to if you’re going to start crying when you get through the door. Over the weekend i spent 6 hours travelling and when i arrived home on sunday was straight out the door to a choir rehearsal which took place at work and required me to get in my polite, being in public headspace.
On Monday i attempted to cram in an early doctors appointment before work where they refused to give me my medication based on an inaccuracy in a letter sent over by my psychiatrist and again i burst into tears. This is a lot of crying for a 7 day period so i figured i probably needed time out, i had lunch on my own at work which because i was anti social and frazzled when i first began working there has just become a norm and people leave me to it. In the evening i had planned to run but instead closed the curtains, got in comfy clothes and watched back to back love island (love it or hate it it’s good escapism). This might not be the luxurious bubble bath with a glass of wine that’s used to depict self care but sometimes self care is just about recognising when you need a breather. Having spent two nights having anti social evenings where the most i achieved was making a chilli before i crashed on the sofa i now feel significantly better.
This downtime not only means i’m not on the brink of tears at any given moment but it means i feel clearer headed at work and more present. It’s not just about recognising for myself when i need time out but it’s also about acknowledging that those around me need time out too and it’s ok for them to vocalise that. One of my best friends and i send regular voice notes on whatsapp which have become part of my morning ritual on the bus to work, this recently amped up after a break up where i struggled to not sob through my journey and she therefore felt obliged to distract me for the duration of my commute. Now i’m out of the ‘i literally feel so awful i cannot possibly be left in my own company’ and am more ‘i feel sad but have accepted this situation’ the voice notes have lessened which is probably more healthy. With my ridiculously over socialised week i paused all communication and sent her a voice note yesterday explaining what i’d been up to and that i felt totally fried. She in return texted me (literally unheard of) to explain she also felt fried and wanted to pause our daily voice notes and swap to a weekly chat that didn’t feel so overwhelming. Good self care people!
All of this has encouraged me to reflect on firstly how self aware i am these days that i am able to mentally check into my needs so easily and secondly that this is a universal issue, not a Bipolar one. Bring on the millennial self indulgence!
Some things i consider to be good self care:
- Time away from people when needed
- Listening to ASMR (google it people, you’ll either find it weird and creepy as hell or amazing)
- Speaking to my Manager about working out of the office when i feel overwhelmed
- Reading and turning off all electronics
- Doing my gratitude journal in the evening
- Not staring at my phone until the brink of sleep but reading and meditating
- Meditating, even if i’m rubbish at it
- Going for a walk and being in nature, i hate town
- Catching up with friends – yup sometimes i do actually want to engage rather than retreat
- exercising – reasonable amounts though people, lets not go overboard