As a grad student studying social work, I hear about three times a day to remember to practice self-care. It’s a profession with high burnout rates, and the need for self-care is a critical part of our profession. I work in the mental health field with children and adolescents who are suffering from mental illness. One of the first things I like to do with my clients is identify ways they can take care of themselves, and constantly remind them of these. So here are ten ways to self-care:
It’s the most simple and most effective most of the time. When I get overwhelmed, anxious, scared, angry, or tired, sometimes taking a deep breath is the only thing I need to do to clear my head for the rest of the day. Here are some breathing exercises to try the next time you need a breath of fresh air.
2. Bubble baths
This is the one you hear about the most, and isn’t something that makes everyone feel more calm, but it’s one of my favorite things to do. You don’t need to buy an expensive bath bomb from Lush, but places like Walmart and Kroger sell cheap bubble bath solutions or bath bombs that will give you the most relaxing half hour you need.
3. Take your days off
I’m a full-time student with a part-time job on the weekends. I fight with myself over the pros and cons of taking a weekend day off rather than working constantly for the extra money for rent and groceries. But those days off are so necessary, and sometimes you just need to lay out on the couch in your PJs all day and watch movies.
4. Try something new
Taking some time to try a new hobby, a new TV show, or a new restaurant with your friends is the best way to learn new things while getting some rest from school/work. I love cooking, so I will find a new recipe and spend some time making it! It’s relaxing and delicious!
I highly recommend buying a journal and starting to write every now and then, even if writing isn't your forte. It’s such a good way to get out whatever you’re feeling. I know I hate complaining to friends about my feelings all the time because I feel like I’m burdening them, so I picked up journaling to write about that stuff, and it’s been great!
I can never focus on schoolwork if my room or house is a mess. Sometimes just taking 30 minutes to do some laundry, wipe down the counters, and sweep the floor is enough to clear my mind a little to focus on what needs to get done.
I have never felt better than when I got a gym membership this past year and started going to work out regularly. I feel energized and refreshed (not to mention healthier) and I seem to get the best workouts when I’m stressed or angry. It relieves those bad feelings and welcomes in fresh ones.
8. Take a news break
We are constantly surrounded by news and stories of the wild politics and movements of our society. I have found it so refreshing to just take a night off from that. Get off Twitter. Get off Facebook. Don’t get on the elliptical in front of the news station. Taking a break and just focusing on you spending time with friends or time by yourself is the best.
I think that meditating is one of the best calming exercises. There are so many apps and YouTube videos out there with guided meditations that are only a few minutes long that really just help you breathe and think on positive things.
The old phrase “laughter is the best medicine” is really true. When I am having a particularly stressful or overwhelming week, I plan a girl’s night with my best friends and we bring a bottle of wine and watch a good comedy movie we haven’t seen or play board games. There is really nothing better than spending a few hours laughing with people you care about and not caring about anything else going on.
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