(Photograph of Tyrhee Moore)
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take a lot to care for oneself. One area that I tend to see that people lack is maintaining self-care. What is self-care you ask? Merriam-Webster defines self-care as, care for oneself. That’s right, it is honestly just taking care of yourself. We tend to become so wrapped up in projects and work that it is easy to forget to stop and take a simple breath.
Self-care can be as simple as taking a much needed day off from work or treating yourself to something you enjoy (e.g., the movies, spa, manicure and/or pedicure, yoga, hiking, swimming, kickboxing, playing sports, etc.). I personally treat myself to the movies. I will randomly buy a movie ticket and just go. I also utilize running in my spare time as a means of self-care. I have friends that travel to implement self-care, friends who create artwork, friends who indulge in nature activities or sporting events (like the one in the picture above), and friends who simply just go to church and/or pray. Self-care is what you make of it. There are no guidelines or detailed methods to follow. You are the creator of what makes you feel good.
I know what you must be thinking, “I already know this stuff.” Yes, you may have already been taught how to take care of yourself, but how often do you really just make time for yourself? What you don’t learn is that neglecting to appropriately take time out to practice self-care by utilizing effective strategies and techniques can be detrimental to one’s mental health. Self-care is a vital aspect of remaining mentally sound in your day to day life. I personally had to learn this the hard way. When my best friend passed away in 2016, I neglected to take care of myself. I began to pick up more and more work on the job, which caused me to remain mentally busy. In turn, I was unknowingly burning myself out as time passed. I was no longer able to maintain my work duties and was severely declining mentally. Some days it was as if I were just withering away as I was watching time past me by. Now, the most remarkable thing about this story is that I learned to pick myself up. I forced myself to hang out with my friends, as if I had a choice, and started working out more. I changed my diet and found peace from growth in my spirituality and religion. I learned the benefit of having a support system, both family and close friends, to process my abnormal behaviors and vent about my negative emotions. I also started writing as an outlet to rid myself of any negative feelings, kind of like sending it off into the universe.
I say all of this to say, trust the process of learning what helps you cope because it’s essential to maintaining mental, physical and emotional stability.