• Cara-Lee Compton

Self-care, sister.

"I'm so tired", my current life motto. I've been complaining so much about how tired I am that I eventually started irritating myself! So now, every time I'm ready to drop the tired bomb, I rather tell someone something good that happened that day, or something good that I read (or I try, atleast). This blog is NOT about how tired I am, although I can keep you busy for a while on that subject. This blog is about self-care, a very popular millenial phrase.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I'd do a piece on self-care, as I feel it is very often a term misunderstood, underestimated and defined by means of a face mask and a carrot stick. Just a quick disclaimer, I'm not an expert, but I have really tried to do some research on this topic. About a month ago I had to pull over my car and I got sick on the side of the road - stomach ulcer, again! I realised at that moment that I have been pushing myself beyond the limits of what I could deal with physically and emotionally. Stress consumed me and self-care was non existent.

Self-care is an activity, or a range of activities, that we deliberately do to take care of our physical, mental and emotional health. Self-care improves not only your relationship with yourself, but with the people around you. It's very important to know that self-care is not, or should not be, something that you don't enjoy or that makes you feel even more drained. If going for a run is 30 minutes of hell, it should most definitely not be part of your self-care list! Self-care also does not equal being selfish. Taking time for yourself enables you to refill your cup and give more of yourself to others in return!

Now that we know a bit more about what self-care is, I want to look at a few effective ways to self-care properly. These are all ways I have tried and tested myself.

Firstly, stay away from toxic people. I know this sounds harsh, but chances of you positively influencing a toxic person are very slim. Save yourself and your own sanity, and surround yourself with positive people. Just to be clear, I'm not saying that you should steer clear of depressed or anxious people. There is a big difference between someone who needs a good friend to support them, and those that need a friend to gossip with or complain to.

Secondly, turn off your cellphone and log out of social media (preaching for myself over here). Social media can be extremely draining. Everytime I want to put down my phone, I get another notification, and another, and another. After an hour I haven't put down my phone once. Engagements, weddings, babies, memes, politics, death, violence, people fighting, racism - DRAINING! Prolong that battery life, put down the phone, and go soak up some Vitamin D outside, or some Vitamin New Girl in your bed (for the older generations wondering, it's a series, wink wink, mom).

Thirdly, teach yourself the power of "no". Just no. If you are too tired to keep your eyes open, don't do that coffee date. What's the use of doing it if you are going to take a nap during the convo? Don't feel like having a late night out? Say no. Get to bed early. If you believe that it gives you some sense of self-care, put on that face mask girl! It's REALLY OKAY to say no and take some time to recover from whatever it is you are going through. Say NO to unhealthy foods, if you are struggling with your weight and it's something that you consider an issue. You cannot pour from an empty cup, remember that!

Fourth, and finally, sometimes self-care will be the opposite of what I said above. Often you will have to get out of your room, out of the house, see some friends, go watch a movie, do that workout! Getting those endorphins flowing might just be the solution.

The list goes on and on - but this is what is important: follow the signs and listen to what your head and your body's trying to tell you. Take care of yourself. If you know you are not feeling well or able to be physically and emotionally present, then find your quiet place and take some time for yourself. Forcing yourself to workout or socialise will be more detrimental to your health than beneficial. MOST importantly, whenever you feel too overwhelmed or that you are beyond the point of helping yourself, seek professional help or confide in a trusted friend or family member.

Self-care is not the answer to everything, but it can solve a few stressed-out situations!