When we hear the term “self-care,” most of us think about bubble baths, a spa appointment or indulging in a favorite snack. Those are all great ways to take care of yourself and enjoy “me time,” but self-care is a lot more than the occasional Instagram-worthy activity. Self-care needs to be a part of your daily routine, and it needs to get into your soul, touching and healing the parts deep down inside of you. Take the bubble bath! But also invest in self-care that’s goes a little deeper.
Go the Therapy: Cost – $$$
Therapy is awesome! It’s not something to be ashamed of or something to be scared of. It’s beneficial, helpful and rewarding. Therapy helps us grow. We often need sounding boards, and sometimes friends and family don’t understand where we are coming from. Other times, we don’t feel comfortable sharing our struggles with them. Therapists are trained to talk, listen and teach us no matter what we’re dealing with. Some specialize in different areas like addiction, alcoholism, family practice or depression, so you can find one to best match your needs.
I know what you’re thinking…therapy is expensive. I’m not going to sugarcoat it – yeah, it is. Self-care can be, but you are worth it. Your health, safety and happiness are worth it. Many insurance companies cover some type of therapy, so talk to your insurance provider. If you don’t have health insurance that covers therapy, call the NAMI Help Line. They will help you find affordable or free mental health care in your area. You can also try online therapy. You don’t meet your therapist in person and instead text or email back and forth. Some packages also have skype appointments. These therapy options are often less expensive than traditional, in person therapy. Check out your house of worship too! Many religious leaders have counselor training and will provide free therapy for their congregation.
Take Your Medication and See a Doctor: Cost $ to $$$
Yep, taking your medication as perscribed is self-care! When it comes to mental health medication, I know it can be tricky to take it consistently. Your brain might tell you that you don’t need it or you might have a mood swing that makes you throw it all away. Your medication is important! Your doctor perscribed it for a reason in order to care for you, and if you’re unhappy with it, please talk to your doctor before going off of it.
If you’re not on medication but things feel off, physically or medically, going to a doctor is self-care, too. Go get yourself checked out. You only get one body and it’s so important that you take care of it. You’re worth the investment of a doctor’s appointment.
Get a Gym Membership or Join an Exercise Class: Cost – $$
We exercise because we love our bodies, not as a form of punishment. If you are able bodied, join a gym or a group class. I’m not saying join because you need to lose weight – nope nope nope. Exercise because it’s social and will get you out and about. Exercise because it’s time that you can set aside just for yourself and your thoughts, or exercise releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings which, for some, reduces anxiety and depression. Exercise also reduces physical ailments like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which is awesome for your body. If you want to stay budget-friendly, walk for 30 minutes a day, buy a work out DVD, download fitness apps or find classes on Youtube. Remember that working out as punishment or solely to lose weight can be really detrimental to your mental health. We exercise because our bodies were built to move, and we want to show our bodies love! If you want to hear a refreshing take on how exercise should be viewed, listen to the Exercise episode of the Guilty Feminist HERE.
Download Mental Health and Meditation Apps: Cost – Free
Apps are not a replacement for therapy, but they can be really helpful if you want to learn how to better manage your anxiety or get in touch with your feelings. Meditation can help you connect better with yourself and the world and bring about more mindfulness in your life. The strategies you learn and implement from mental health apps can help you cope with what you’re feeling. Psyber Guide has a great list of apps, which they’ve rated based on credibility, user experience and transparency. I just started using the Happify app to learn how to cope with negative thoughts and increase my positive thinking.
Treat Yourself to Activities You Like: Cost – Free to $$$
YOU ARE ALLOWED TO SPEND MONEY AND TIME ON YOURSELF. I know a lot of us have that voice in the back of our heads that says we better not spend anything on ourselves. That money could go towards groceries, bills, the kids, the spouse – you name it. As long as you’re budgeting and covering the expenses you have to pay, you can and should treat yourself. While you might not be able to afford something every single day, I do think buying items or activities that you enjoy should be something that happens on a regular basis. Get your hair colored. Enjoy a massage. Take a vacation. See a concert. Buy the makeup palette. Your self-care should be a part of your budget just like the bills or groceries. You deserve to be a priority in your life.
This list could go on and on. Self-care is realizing that you have value and you need to care for your physical and mental well-being. You could cut toxic people from your life. You could teach yourself a new skill. Self-care can even be recognizing that you’re not ok and you need help. Take care of yourself, babes. You’re worthy of love, especially from yourself!