Self-care looks different for everyone. And while it sometimes gets associated with candles and bubble baths, self-care is about recognizing that your needs are important. Learning how to fulfill your own needs is important to supporting your own well-being.
Think of self-care as a maintenance practice, and not something you do only when you’re feeling burnt out, drained, or low.
When you regularly practice self-care, you’re nourishing the parts of yourself that may be tired, stressed, or otherwise affected by what you’re going through in your life.
A good place to start is by thinking about what experiences or activities make you feel most like you. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Setting boundaries. ❌✔️ Reflecting on your obligations, relationships, and the conversations happening in your life, especially those that are physically or emotionally draining, can help you understand where you may need to set some boundaries as a way of caring for yourself in the long-term. Taking action to change these areas of your life (wherever possible!) may allow your needs to be met on a more regular basis. For example, consider unfollowing accounts that don’t contribute to your well-being.
Moving your body. 🤸🏃 Movement can look like stretching, going for a walk, practicing yoga, playing sports, exercising, dancing (even in your own bedroom!), and so much more. Moving your body can shift your attention away from current thoughts and feelings and towards your physical self, which can be a helpful way of processing something you’re dealing with.
Exploring nature. ⛅🌳 Regularly going outside can do a lot more for your mental health than you may realize – such as experiencing fresh air, cooling your body down, and hopefully feeling more connected to the world around you. Try paying attention to all the senses available to you that may be activated by being outside (the sounds, sights, smells, and sensations). A visual tip for spending time outdoors: pick a colour, and see how many things you notice match that colour while outside.
Getting creative. 🎨🎤 Many of us enjoyed creative activities when we were younger, but life’s obligations may have kept us from being able to pursue them. This can include (and is not limited to) reading, writing, crafting, dancing, gaming, singing, and practicing an instrument. Sometimes it can be difficult for you to begin these activities again – but it may be worth taking a moment to imagine how you might feel afterwards. Allowing yourself to get creative can help you feel like a kid again.
Journaling. 📔✏️ This doesn’t even have to be in a journal! Memo apps on our phones, napkins, and loose papers all work great, too. Writing down what you're feeling can help you process your emotions and experiences better, as it puts them out of your head and into the real world. As time passes, it also can also create some distance from these thoughts and feelings, since many of our emotions (especially the physically activating ones) are temporary. Plus, it’s a way of keeping personal mementos from different periods of your life.
Finding community. 🤝💕 This is probably one of the best ways you can reconnect with yourself, including the different parts of your identity and personal interests. Community can be found in many places – school or local groups, organizations, online communities, forums or servers, in-person events, and so on. The idea of meeting new people can feel overwhelming at first, but there are folks like you, going through similar things, who share similar interests, everywhere. It’s just a matter of finding each other.
When you learn what self-care practices work best for your needs, you’re in a better position to support your well-being in the long-term, and to support those around you do the same.
Sometimes, it can be hard to find the motivation, so it’s totally okay if a lot of these things don’t feel possible for you right now. Try to remember to show yourself a little grace, every day. 🙏