Just like everyone else in the world, I've spent a lot of time since the new year thinking about the past year, and what I want my life to look like moving forward. I wouldn't call it human nature, but it's certainly a cultural expectation to set goals and resolutions to better oneself and bring more joy into ones life.
The most common goal I have seen among my friends, and among those I follow on social media, is to be more intentional with "self care." A phrase that should have as many meanings as the number of people using it, society has boiled it down to a certain consumeristic pattern. Reminiscent of the phrase "Treat Yo Self," popularized by NBC's Parks & Recreation, almost everyone I know talks about self care as if money has to be spent for it to be accomplished.
Money is one of the biggest sources of stress in my life. Not because I don't have any, but because I'm impulsive and want what I want when I want it and I always seem to let it slip away. As I lived through 2017 becoming more conscious of the need for me to be mentally healthy, I first approached it by buying up all the face masks and "treating myself" to new clothes or new shoes almost every week. So today I wanted to share what I've found to be healthy alternatives to self care that have no risk of buyer's remorse.
Reading for 30 Minutes
It's no secret that people who read more are more successful. At the very least, those among us who are successful block off 30 minutes of each day dedicated to reading. Even though I'm an English teacher, I often hate reading. Sometimes it's physically painful for me to sit down and open a book. Oftentimes instead I'll read an article on my phone. Whether it's Buzzfeed or Byron, you can never go wrong by opening yourself up to someone else's thoughts as a temporary relief from your own.
Sometimes I journal. Sometimes I talk with friends or coworkers, and other times I simply talk to myself. Whatever the means, reflecting on an experience, positive or negative, is a great way to help yourself move past it. It's also an incredibly helpful practice in growing as a professional.
I have spent many nights awake thinking through events of the day unable to move past them. Only once I verbalized or put them into writing could I store them away, removing them from the forefront of my mind. Sometimes all we need to move past something isn't something we can buy, but a person or a piece of paper to hear us out.
Talk About & Do Things Outside of Your Normal
This one is challenging and it took me a long time to put into words. As you know from literally all of my writing, I'm a work-a-holic. I would only work/talk about work if I could. I really don't love that about myself, and it's taken a lot of work (ha ha) to fight the urge and instead take time to relax. And one way of doing that is to talk about or do things that are far removed from my work experience. This can be tricky since most of my friends are in the same profession, but there is so much joy to be found in experiencing new things and discussing new ideas as opposed to falling into the same rote conversation as everyone around you. The people I admire most are the ones who are capable of removing themselves from their daily patterns to reach out to others, to learn, and to find joy.
Granting myself permission to step outside of my usual cycle each day has given me the ability to re-enter my work and my relationships with a different energy. Self care is so important, but it doesn't always involve spending money. What efforts are you making to better yourself every day? Shoot me an email- I'd love to know!