Listen. I know that it's 2020, and everything is basically a dumpster fire.
If your mental health has been anything like mine during the past 7 months, you’re probably feeling like you're struggling to do everything you need to to stay afloat - managing practicing, school work, a job or assistantship - while also trying to not get bogged down by everything else happening in the world - this election and awful presidency (don’t forget to vote on November 3rd if you haven’t already!), the pandemic, systemic racism, the patriarchy, etc. While all of this stuff is certainly adding stress to our lives and barely leaves time for focusing on ourselves, I think that making sure we each take time for self-care is truly important for maintaining our mental health as best we can.
So you’re probably asking yourself “How the heck do you expect me to even remotely prioritize self-care during this insane year?”
Well, let me tell you, it will probably be difficult at first, especially if this isn’t something you’ve ever prioritized before. Self-care (and having time for it) has always been something that I’ve struggled with. Anytime I’ve ever tried to take time for myself, my brain and anxiety start to freak out and nag me. While this has been a struggle for me literally for as long as I can remember, I decided to work on it during the many months inside during the pandemic, mainly because I felt like I was losing control and decided I needed to do something to help me feel more grounded and present in the world around me.
What did I change in the past few months?:
Prioritizing my mental and physical health. I’ve personally struggled with anxiety and migraines for most of my adult life, but I didn’t get a diagnosis for either until August.
Started working on my time management. I’ve always ALWAYS been a procrastinator, but I knew this semester I needed to change something if I wanted to stay motivated and focused. Previously I used a weekly planner, and a month ago I started using the Passion Planner Daily Planner and this has literally been life-changing for me (this isn’t sponsored, I just really love their planners). Using a daily planner helps me break down my list into manageable amounts for each day, and has helped with my anxious thoughts.
Making time for things that actually make me happy. I have started doing a nighttime ritual to help calm me down that includes things I like, such as taking a long shower, playing Animal Crossing, meditating, and then reading a chapter (but usually more) of a book to help quiet my brain and get me ready to sleep.
My cross-stitch I’ve been working on a little bit each day for my friend’s baby that is due in December!
What I’ve listed above is specific to me, but I hope it’s helped inspire some ideas for you! Self-care can be as small or as big as you want, as long as it is helpful to your existence! While some of these ideas might seem overwhelming, being aware that something needs to be fixed or changed is the first step towards helping you live healthier and take care of yourself!
Here are some ideas of things you can try to help you take care of yourself:
Have specific and dedicated times for both housework, and schoolwork.
Set up boundaries for when you are busy/free and some time to just be alone.
Yoga, meditate, take time to breathe, pray if you’re religious
Exercise - go to the gym, on a walk, etc.
Journal/brain dump/gratitude list/write down your strengths
Save a few minutes each day to focus and brainstorm your dreams and goals.
Sleep/nap/rest if you need it - listen to your body and don’t deprive it
Devote some time to a hobby.
Relax with a bath or long shower.
Connect with others.
Clean your environment - I’ve found that a clean home helps me focus on everything else
If it is accessible for you - therapy - if you’re in school, your school probably has an on-campus counseling center that is more affordable.
Ask for help if you need it!
Keep running lists in a notebook/planner/your phone to help you keep track of things.
Work on changing your inner dialogue to be more positive, kind, and patient with yourself.
Be smart with your practicing - take breaks, stretch, do your warm-ups, etc.
Make sure you are hydrating, eating a balanced diet, getting nutrients you need, etc.
Remember, self-care should always help you feel better, not take away from your existence, or cause you stress.
Here are some resources that helped me while I was brainstorming and researching for this article:
Jenny Clarinet’s Mental Health Tips for Artists
Heather Mogielnicki’s Healthy Habits for Musicians
Per Service Podcast - Self-Care or Die