I know I’ve already mentioned this over ten times now, but self-love and self-care aren’t just about soaking yourself in a bathtub with 5 different kinds of bath salts. It’s about making sure that you are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.
Now, ideally, people who practice self-care are attuned to their needs and they know just how and when they should show themselves a little bit of extra TLC just in case they’re falling short. But this isn’t an ideal situation and I am constantly looking at people who have completely forgotten what’s good for them and what’s not.
So, this is an intervention! If you’ve been letting yourself fall through the cracks lately, and you haven’t even realized it yet, there are a few signs that might clue you in on what’s going on with you. And I’m here to tell you just how to identify and tackle these setbacks.
Sign #1: You have no alone time.
Now, when I say ‘alone time’, I don’t really mean it in the literal sense. It just means that you haven’t spent any time on yourself by yourself. It’s so easy to forget about your own needs when you’re wrapped up in everybody else’s drama constantly. Do you remember the last time you did something that really makes you unwind and calm down? If you can’t recall when that was, then it’s high time to you practised some self-care.
How to tackle: Do something, anything that makes you happy. You could cook, you could do a bit of re-organizing, you could get a makeover, stay in and watch something on Netflix, catch up on your sleep, read your favourite book, go out on a walk— anything that leaves you feeling like yourself again.
Sign #2: You aren’t hydrated enough.
This might sound a little crazy, but I have noticed that I have very bad days when I am not hydrated enough. If you’re looking for a more scientific answer, I’m pretty sure it has something to do with regulating our body’s temperature and making up for all the water we lose every day to bodily functions. Point is, if you aren’t drinking enough water, I’m pretty sure you’re ignoring one of the most important forms of self-care.
How to tackle: Drink. Water! It’s that simple. Carry a (reusable) water bottle with you at all times. Of course, the ideal amount of water for a healthy adult is 8-10 glasses, or 2-2.5L, whichever sounds the easiest to you, even though they’re the same thing. Staying hydrated is, like, 50% of self-care!
Sign #3: You’re on auto-pilot.
If your day looks like an automated routine that you don’t even have to think twice about anymore, I have to break it to you that you’ve been letting yourself go. Big time! It’s not you controlling your life anymore, because it’s the other way round and that’s scary! What’s the meaning of being alive if you’re on auto-pilot and doing things like a pre-programmed robot?
How to tackle: Do something spontaneous every once in a while. Do something that goes several miles in the opposite direction of your daily routine. Grab a backpack and go explore a section of your city that you’ve never been to, go sample something from a cafe you’ve never been to before, order something that you wouldn’t usually order. Something!
Sign #4: You’re cranky all the time.
Enough said. Being cranky, moody, salty, judge-y— all of these are signs that you haven’t been taking enough care of yourself. Of course, there are other reasons to be cranky besides the glaring lack of self-love. But most of our annoyance is actually just deep-rooted in our self-neglect; you aren’t taking care of yourself and you’re projecting it on people around you, left, right and centre. Sorry, but someone had to tell you.
How to tackle: Focus on yourself. Show yourself a little more kindness. I know you’re probably going through Hell, but sometimes you have to be the one to hold your own hand out of this mess. Go to therapy if it helps you. Honestly, there is no shame in accepting that you need help.
Sign #5: Minor inconveniences make you want to cry.
Have you been crying about that easy task that you absolutely do not have the motivation to go through with? I get it. Sometimes, when you haven’t been kind or patient enough with yourself, you start crawling through daily tasks at a snail’s pace and nothing gets done on time. If something as little as getting out of bed every day makes you feel like it’s all too much, then it’s a sign that you’ve not been showing yourself enough care.
How to tackle: Take it easy. You want to cut yourself some slack. A side-effect of letting yourself go is ignoring the little, but important things that your body and mind need. Start paying attention to yourself a little more. Take a mental health day from school/ work in case you want to. And again, go to therapy if it gets unbearable.
Self-care isn’t a luxury. It is a necessity and we should see it for what it actually is. I know that a lot of people consider it unnecessary, but let me tell you that it’s very much important to keep our lives going smoothly; just as much as eating or breathing are.
Here’s hoping that you pay attention to yourself a little more after you’ve read this.
On a side note, I want to stress upon the fact that going to therapy isn’t something you need to be ashamed of. If it’s something that you think might help you, I suggest you definitely go for it. Mental health is no joke and it’s high time we started taking it seriously. There is so much stigma surrounding therapy and the only way to normalize it is by being open about topics such as mental health and awareness. Bottom line: Your illness isn’t who you are supposed to be, it’s keeping you from who you are actually supposed to be.
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