After years of struggling with my own anxiety disorder I have come to a conclusion: self-care is a vital part of my life.
In my educational journey, each class has ended with a chapter on self-care, and if I’m being honest, I usually didn’t read it. My classmates and I would scoff at the thought of taking time out of our day all to ourselves! I mean…who has time for that?! It isn’t easy to fit in everything we need to do. I have classes, work, church activities, friends, chores, cooking, and a hamster to look after! Some of you have children to raise, babies to birth, and dogs to walk (I’m jealous that you have a dog) and finding time to sit back and relax is not even on your radar.
Why do we push ourselves to accomplish so much? Every morning when I wake up I make a mental to-do list, which is generally quite long, and before I leave my house for work I am already overwhelmed. I feel this incessant need to pile on task after task in order to prove myself to those around me. I feel that my accomplishing a 10 hour work day will make me seem like a better person. Often times, I find myself in a competition of sorts with my friends over who worked the most and who has the most left to do before bed.
In all the talk about mental health funding and services, I rarely see any talk about self-care and the value it holds. Like I said, even I skipped over it in class, but I have come to realize that I cannot function well without time for myself. I actively try to find at least 15 minutes for myself each day to do something I love and enjoy. Sometimes I write or read; maybe I will paint my nails one night before bed. Often, it is just 15 minutes of silence as I reflect on the day’s events and plan for the rest of the week. I have been working hard to stop comparing myself to those around me, but it isn’t easy. When I see someone working a twelve hour day I automatically feel that I need to be working more, doing more, accomplishing more, even if my work is already done.
Now, let me clarify a few things. First, it is okay to be busy. Filling your life with jobs, friends and family is not a bad thing, we need these to survive. Second, you don’t need a diagnosed disorder to benefit from self-care. Everyone deserves a chance to relax and everyone can relate to the feeling of needing to do more. We can become so consumed in our accomplishments that we start to let our mental health deteriorate day by day, and before we know it we are snapping at our boss, yelling at our family, and sleeping less and less.
My best friend works in IT and I constantly come to him with my computer problems, which are never user error, and he always has the same advice: “have you tried a reboot?” I roll my eyes, reboot my device, and by some strange miracle, my device works normally once again. I think of our minds in the same way. When things start to go wrong and we are feeling overloaded, why not try a reboot? Unplug yourself for a while and power down.
Allow yourself time to relax.
We only get this one life, why not enjoy it!