Self care advice is everywhere, and when you’re just beginning your self care journey, it can be tempting to indulge in as much of this information as possible. That’s what I did when I first started, but it wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed.
A lot of the self care advice was focused towards those who had been engaging in self care for a while. It could have just been my shoddy Google search skills, but I really struggled to self care advice focused specifically on those just beginning their journey.
With that being said, I thought I’d take today’s blog post to talk about all the self care advice I wish I’d been given back at the very beginning.
Even if you haven’t just started your self care journey, many of the points I’m focusing on are things we need to constantly remind ourselves of. I definitely benefited from writing this blog post myself, so I hope that, even if you aren’t a complete beginner, you feel able to take something from this post.
Changes Won’t Happen Overnight
We’ve all seen those relatable tweets from people talking about exercising for two days and wondering why they don’t have a six-pack yet, haven’t we? Realistically, however, we all understand that changes from exercise will not occur overnight. It takes time for your body to adjust, and repetition to build up to the results you’re expecting.
The same goes for your self care journey. The only difference is that instead of your body needing time to adjust, it’s your brain.
Also like exercising, however, people can be quick to stop their self care journey when they don’t see results. If I could give you one piece of self care advice, it would be not to do this.
I promise you the results will be worth it if you push through the initial disappointment that comes with realising it takes time to achieve the desired outcome from self care. When you do start noticing a difference, you will be thankful you kept at it.
Start Small For Self Care Success
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know I bang on about starting small a lot. When it comes to your self care journey, however, this advice is extremely important.
The truth is, trying to do everything at once when you’ve never actively engaged with self care before is extremely bad practice. You might feel motivated for the first couple of days, but once the tasks become more overwhelming, the temptation to give up is extremely strong.
Instead, one of my biggest pieces of self care advice is to start really small. There are lots of self care advice posts already out there, but the truth is, you might need to start with even smaller tasks than what others recommend.
If you want your self care journey to lead to an afternoon spent reading, say three hours or so, you’re going to need to start smaller if you aren’t reading at all currently. Try starting with thirty minutes of this activity, building it up to sixty minutes and then ninety minutes as time goes on and you feel more able to do so. Don’t move too quickly, regardless of the activity, as this can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
In the worst case scenario, pushing yourself too far too fast with self care can lead to you procrastinating self care itself. This will make it seem more like a chore than a relaxation activity, and that’s not useful in the slightest for you and your self care journey.
What Works For Someone Else May Not Work For You
Self care advice has become extremely popular on social media. In fact, I think we can say that about self care in general, really.
On the one hand, this is great; the more awareness about how we need to look after ourselves the better, right? The downside to this is that we’re all guilty of subconsciously comparing ourselves to others on social media.
It can seem like we’re doing something wrong is the things that won’t for others don’t work for us. Sure, there are luxurious photos of bubble baths and face masks on social media, but if they don’t work for you? That’s okay.
Even if someone spouts self care advice that they see as essential for everyone who engages in self care, it’s okay if you don’t get on with it.
The important thing is that you know when it’s okay to disregard self care advice. If you’re just starting your self care journey, you might want to give everything a go; that’s what I did!
If it’s not working, however, know when it’s doing more harm than good and stop. There are other things you can do that will work, I promise. It’s just a matter of finding them.
Self Care Isn’t A Competition
I think it’s become easy to think of self care as a competition in the last few years, since it started to become more popular on social media. It’s so easy now to get wrapped up in what other people are doing for their self care journey’s that you lose sight of why you started yours in the first place.
It’s not always a bad thing to compete with others, but when you’re doing something for yourself, learning to care less about what others are doing is so important. We all have different reasons to engage in self care, so what you need to do and what someone else needs to do could be totally different.
Self care advice can be really helpful, but remember to take it with a pinch of salt if you start to think of self care as a competition. You do not need to compete with someone else when it comes to your own wellbeing.
It’s Okay To Switch Things Up
Like I mentioned further up in this article, if something isn’t working for you, there’s no point in continuing to do it.
Especially when you’re beginning your self care journey, there is going to be an element of trial and error whilst you take the time to discover the self care advice and activities that apply to you.
When I discover a new self care activity that I might like to incorporate, I tell myself I will try it three times. If I still don’t feel the benefits from that activity after that, and I’m not interested in it, I’ll stop.
This helps with the guilt that I often feel about giving things up before I’ve given them a proper chance.
There will always be times when I wonder if an activity would have benefited me if I had preserved for a while longer. The beauty of life though is that it’s the longest thing we’ll ever do, giving us plenty of time to revisit old self care activities as and when we please.
Bad Days May Still Happen
The beauty of human emotions means that we won’t always feel good about ourselves. Self care advice often tells us that looking after ourselves will cure us of these bad days, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
In fact, this entire blog post was inspired by the fact that I’ve been struggling with my mental health lately. I’ve continued with my self care journey, taking regular breaks to look after myself, but I’m still struggling. I wanted to create this post to remind myself why I promised myself I would prioritise self care in the first place.
You might think that’s a weird thing for me to admit in a self care advice post, but I still believe that self care is extremely beneficial, whether you struggle with a mental illness or not.
See, before I started thinking seriously about self care, I would punish myself a lot when I was in a bad place mentally. I used to blame myself, and that wasn’t helpful or productive.
Now, I’m trying to be kinder to myself, and reward myself for what I can get done with some of my favourite self care activities.
As anyone with a mental illness will understand, this method isn’t always successful. There are certainly days where I wonder why I bother with self care, but I do it anyway, and it makes me grateful for the days when it does work.
Just as a little side note, I find taking the time to treat myself with extra self care activities on a bad mental health day helps me to handle basic self care tasks, too. Getting out of bed and pushing myself to shower is hard, but it’ll be worth it if I can climb back into bed and watch a TV show after, right?
Emotions Aren’t The Enemy
One piece of self care advice I think is super important is to keep checking in on your emotions. It can be extremely tempting to reassure yourself that you’re fine because you’re engaging in self care and ignoring how you’re feeling, even when you aren’t.
I’m definitely guilty of falling into this trap myself. Being autistic, I can find it incredibly difficult to identify and process my emotions. I think this is something you can probably relate to even if you aren’t autistic, though. We get busy, forget to take notice of our emotions and listen to our body, and things soon become overwhelming.
Instead of pushing your emotions away and hiding the bad ones underneath layers of self care, take the time to be present with how you are feeling.
You don’t often see this in self care advice posts, but I’d definitely say being present and comfortable with your emotions is a big self care thing.
Personally, I like do this when I’m in bed, preparing to sleep. It’s usually quietest in my house at this time of night, and I can lie undisturbed for as long as I need to.
I know some people find meditation is a great way of doing this, too, so if that works for you, it might be a great thing to incorporate into your self care routine.
Self Care Isn’t Selfish
We live in a society where we’re fooled into thinking we need to be busy all the time. This can make us feel like we’re being selfish, or lazy, when we dare to take time for ourselves; whether that’s a few minutes, hours or even a day.
A lot of self care activities involve being by yourself. This doesn’t have to be the case, but I find it’s nice to switch off and allow myself to be completely disconnected for a while.
For a long time, I thought this need to be alone was selfish. If I wasn’t constantly available for others, then I was a bad person, right?
Well, no, actually.
The truth is everyone needs time to be alone, even if you’re extremely extroverted. Just a few minutes to gather yourself or allow yourself to do nothing at all can do you the world of good.
After all, self care is all about replenishing your energy reserves and helping you feel relaxed, so it’s important for you to take the time necessary to do so.
You are not selfish because you dare to take time for yourself and your self care journey; you are a human being who is doing what is right for them.
Self Care Is A Journey, Not A Destination
This sounds like one of those cutesy, mystical quotes you’d see on Pinterest, but it’s something I truly believe.
A lot of self care advice suggests there’s this point you reach when you’ve done the work you need to do and can continue as you are. It’s almost suggesting that, once you’ve found the things that work for you, that’s all you need to do… ever.
This might be a personal thing, but I honestly don’t think I’ll ever see an end to my self care journey. I’ll constantly be striving to find new activities to engage in, or adapting my current self care routine as my life adjusts.
I have absolutely no doubt that the self care routine I have at the moment will look completely different a few years down the line, and that’s okay.
Did you find this self care advice useful? Is there any other advice you think people starting their self care journey’s need to know about?
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