Self care tips are rampant on the internet. Seriously, just type in self care and see all the millions of results that come up. Shockingly, we are rapidly becoming obsessed with not feeling like shit. Crazy, right?
Basic self-care is available to everyone at almost any time for free with very little effort.
Self-care truly is for everyone but I’ve found that many people out there are promoting it as something that is hard to do, requires a lot of time, and costs a decent amount of money. Platforms like Instagram have us convinced we need to take a bath with fresh rose petals, use a fresh coffee face mask from Columbia, and burn enough candles to burn the house down.
But I’m going to be real with you. All those fun, cutesy self care tips do absolutely nothing without having a good foundation of self care. Until you’re doing basic self-care from an almost basic human existence level, those cutesy things aren’t doing much for you.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all the cutesy self-care tips out there for when you’re feeling down or just want to spoil your cute self a bit more. Really though, without that good foundation, it’s like putting a piece of duct tape over a splitting cavern; those cute tips are doing nothing for you in the long term. Taking care of yourself is absolutely, 100%, undeniably necessary for you to not only be your best self, but also to be able to help others.
Your mental and physical well being both sit on a very similar foundation. And if you ignore the basis of that foundation for too long, no amount of pampering is going to help. Since your brain is an organ, it needs the same basic attention that your heart or intestines needs. Your foundation of how well or not so well you function is physiological. So basically, if you’re feeling like shit, answer these questions first before you reach for that delicious smelling grapefruit bubble bath.
Basic Self Care Q1: When was the last time you ate something?
Yes, doctors tell you all the time that to be healthy you need a good diet. And it’s true. Nutrition is vital. Food is vital. Without it, you literally die. Hanger is a serious problem that can destroy relationships and moods alike.
When you’re feeling down, ask yourself “when was the last time I had something delicious and nutritious?”
Basic Self Care Q2: When did you last move?
Sedentary people tend to be more depressed. Often that’s why we hear of people working desk jobs being miserable. This one is pretty obvious but exercise and motion are important. Girl, no matter how bad you’re feeling you need to move. You didn’t evolve to be bipedal so that you could be sedentary. Humans were designed to walk between 5-25 miles a day. You really think your mind and body will function is you sit on Netflix all day, making only occasional trips to the fridge?
If you don’t want head to the gym (honestly, who does?) that doesn’t mean you can’t move. Dance around your *apartment* or go check your mail. Maybe take part of your lunch break to take a walk around the block.
*pants are optional*
Since I work from home now, I find that without movement I get super tired and super down by the end of the day. To fix this I set a timer for every 25 minutes. When that timer goes off, I stand up, stretch, do a plank, do as many push-ups as I can (so like 3) and maybe do 100 jumping jacks (if I’m feeling ambitious). Then at the end of my work day I take my dog for a walk (most days because she forces me to). I see significant improvements in my mood, productivity, and well being from doing a tiny routine like this – so trust me when I say, movement is important.
Basic Self Care Q3: When was the last time you got some natural light?
This one a lot of people don’t think about. But sunlight or just natural light is SO, SO, SOOO important. Depression rates skyrocket without natural light. This is why people have artificial light boxes in places like Northern Canada, Scandinavia, and Seattle. There’s just not enough sun in the winter months or during those long stretches of gloomy weather. For most of us, opening our curtains or stepping out onto our patio for 10 minutes is a game changer. Don’t just sit in the dark.
Basic Self Care Q4: When did you last drink water?
Not bean water (aka coffee), like an actual glass of water. Your brain is about 75% water so dehydration is not going to make you feel psychologically better. If your brain is missing some H20, your mental well-being is going to be put on the back burner because your brain has more important things to worry about – like continuing to keep your dehydrated ass breathing.
Basic Self Care Q5: How’s your hygiene?
Okay, so this one isn’t necesarrily required evolutionarily because humans have had a long history of not bathing and what not. But in today’s culture, we’re clean. You probably feel better, fresher, and more positive when you’ve showered, washed your face, and brushed your teeth. Just because you feel rotten, doesn’t mean you should allow your body to rot too.
Basic Self Care Q6: When did you last sleep?
Like actually slept? Not the half ass 4 hours you got because you spent too much time scrolling through social media until 2am. That is not sustainable. Sleep is important, and it needs to come back as a priority. Studies are starting to show that driving sleep deprived is just as dangerous as driving drunk. And just like being wasted, without sleep nothing functions right. Sometimes you need more sleep, sometimes you need less. It’s just a matter of listening to your body. Also, it almost has become taboo if you do sleep, like you’re not as productive if you sleep. Well that’s a bunch of bull because you. Can. Not. Function. Without. Sleep. So go take a freaking nap.
Basic Self Care Q7: When did you take care of business?
And finally, we leave the oddest one for last. When I was a kid and I was just super, duper cranky my grandma’s first question was “when was the last time you pooped”. At the time it kind of mortified me but of course then she’d make me go, and I’d feel better. I guess several parents have done this, probably because it works. I don’t know why or how but I know it helps. So if you’re feeling like shit, maybe its simply because you’re full of it.
Now, I just want to clarify that I do not ignore how difficult doing even these things are when you are horribly depressed. I have been there, and I understand. If you need help, seek help. Because when you’re that low, all the cutesy stuff and physiological stuff is too hard to do. I get it.
Nor am I against the cute self-care tips. I love those tips. They’re fun and they are relaxing. I merely state that you need to examine things a little deeper so that those cute, fun things will have a greater impact on your wellbeing. You don’t just want to put a piece of duct tape over it and call it good. Taking care of yourself is a big deal and does require taking some time. So again, before you reach of the face masks, wine, and bath bombs answer these questions first. Take care of these problems first. And you’ll be able to experience a better, more wholesome self care routine. Take care of your foundation, take care of you.