I don’t think I’m alone in often feeling overwhelmed by the online world, in feeling harassed by hashtags and fed up with feeling an urgent need to reply to messages. I like the internet, I like being busy and I love messages from my family and friends, but sometimes – well, quite often – I just need to hit the OFF button and hide. I don’t know if it’s an introvert thing, or if it’s because I struggle with anxiety, but I’m guessing it’s a human thing, and that modern life is a big fat overload for all of us at times.
Self Care Days, or Mental Health Days, are something I now take regularly and feel no need to justify to myself or anyone else. I’ve finally learnt that my head health, nervous system and energy reserves are more important than almost anything else I have control over, and ya know what, I cherish these days. Want one too? Here’s my guide to a day off from modern life….
- Stay off Social Media – this one is a biggie as social media can be your biggest enemy when you’ve got the fed-ups, stay away from these feeds that forever fuel your insecurities of not being busy enough, exciting enough, pretty enough, popular enough, it’s all smoke and mirrors and its not a competition you have to win, or even participate in every damn day.
- Cook Good Food – food is your fuel, I learnt that during my long recovery from an eating disorder and I sometimes forget just how important it is to properly nourish myself, take time to lovingly prepare a wholesome meal for your body, it’s an essential act of self love.
- Rest – sit and stay put, don’t feel guilty about what you’re not getting done, it can wait, learn to sit with yourself and allow calmness for a while.
- Bathe – I love a bath, I take them often, but I kinda think I enjoy the ritual, the running of it, the idea of it, and then once it’s run, I’m in and out in 5 minutes so I can get on and google that thing or check that message, but on days like these, you need to bathe, and I mean B A T H E, like really do it, immerse entirely.
- Ignore – if you really need to, tell that finger tappin’ friend (that one who’s a bit overly keen on message tennis and gives you a ‘Hellooooo????’ if you don’t reply within 5 minutes) beforehand that you’re gonna be out of action for the day, but take this one day to let emails wait and messages go unanswered, feeling the need to be phone-in-hand-available 24 hours a day is bloody exhausting. Nope, not today.
- Get Out in Nature – on many of my self care days I don’t leave the house, but I do sometimes go into my small garden and look at the bugs and sky, getting out into nature is a perfect remedy for overwhelm, nothing calms the system like listening to trees in the breeze or watching a lil’ bug begin its day, Mother Nature is always there for you when the rest of the world is gettin’ on your nerves.
- Spend Time With Your Pets – nothing, genuinely nothing, soothes me more than cuddling up to my cat and shoving my face into his warm furry belly, the world disappears in that moment and I swear, his soft tummy fluff smells like a freshly cooked cupcake. Animals are ace and if you don’t have a pet, ask a friend to drop their dog off for a bit, animals will take you out of any bad head-space as you watch them do nothing but live in the present. And, did I mention the F L U F F I N E S S?!
- Read – get lost in a book, turn all other things off, and really read.
- Breathe – our breath is our speedometer and when we’re busy we so often breathe fast and shallow and everything we do is on high; high anxiety, high speed, high stress, and our system acts accordingly putting us in a constant ‘fight or flight’ state, concentrate on slow deep breaths and see what it does. Alternate nostril breathing is part of my yoga practice and it’s something I return to over and over because every time, I’m stunned by how much it soothes me. *that’s not an ad in any way, I just genuinely recommend it.
- Sleep – I sleep a lot, and when I’m taking lots of naps I know it’s a sign that I’m feeling engulfed so I pay attention and deal with it by taking a self care day, but, self care days themselves are a great time to nap, a short snooze in a duvet cocoon whilst the rest of the world works can be a sumptuous slice of seclusion for just you, and make sure you go to bed early on these days too, to let your body become properly rested.
So my prescription for when you feel flattened by the weight of it all, is to take this list, once monthly, with a large glass of water, and repeat as often as needed to prevent burn-out. What’s your self care plan, and how do you know when it’s due?