How to focus on self-care in 2018

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Image credit: Aria Goodman

How to focus on self-care in 2018

January 5, 2018

Defining self-care

Self-care. We hear it every day, we know those who swear by it, but some of us are still a little stumped about what self-care looks like. Self-care is often mischaracterized as an indulgence, but we should really view it as a tool to keep us empowered and holistically healthy.

With a new year ahead of us and political and social tensions high across the country, it is no surprise that many people are stressed out this season. So let’s start by defining exactly what self-care means: the care and keeping of yourself- physically, mentally and emotionally.

It’s important to think of these three fields as a Venn diagram or triangle. We want to focus on maintaining all three, rather than sticking to just one or two points. When we neglect one area of the triangle, we feel out of whack.

As most LGBTQIA+ identifying persons know, going home around the holidays can be tough. Family members don’t always accept who you are, or they try to but still make offensive comments, or they don’t really know how you identify at all.

To be better equipped to process feeling ostracized or misunderstood this season, it’s imperative that we practice self-care to prevent any low moods or breakdowns.

What self-care looks like for you

By this point you’re probably asking, what does self-care look like for me? Begin this process with a simple question: what are my needs and how can I meet them?

No matter what your self-care looks like, it always boils down to meeting your personal needs. So, how do we identify our needs? According to the Crisis Text Line, there are three steps to planning for self-care methods: identifying the problem, starting to plan, and taking action.

1. Identify the Problem - what do you anticipate as being a problem or stressor for you on this day?
2. Start Planning - what can you do to take care of yourself during this stressful time? What are you not doing that you should be?
3. Take Action - follow through with your safety plan.

Sometimes, self-care is about simple maintenance. It can be as little as trying to floss every day or eating meals properly. Sometimes, it’s a bit bigger, like taking a walk every day to reduce stress and release endorphins. Other ways to practice self-care may include doing some of your favorite activities to lift your mood- like listening to music, playing with a pet, or writing in a journal.

Here are a few examples of what self-care might look like for you:

  • Eating three meals a day

  • Writing a poem

  • Taking a bubble bath

  • Calling someone you miss

  • Cleaning the house

  • Going to the gym

  • Playing an instrument

  • Going on Tumblr

  • Completing a chore that’s been on your to-do list

  • Taking your medications as prescribed

  • Drinking water regularly

  • Watching your favorite TV show

It’s key to remember that what works for you may not be as effective on your best friend. We are all individuals, and finding what helps us the most during a difficult time can take time. Try various self-care methods while you’re feeling good to find out what works best for you.

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Winter time can be cold, dark, and stressful for some people, but by practicing basic self-care principles, we can all endure the season. We can remember to practice self-care by identifying problems that worry us, planning to take action, and following through with that action.

You’re never alone in this. If you need assistance planning for a tough time, or are going through a difficult moment and can’t recall your safety plan, text HELLO to 741741 to be connected to a real Crisis Counselor through Crisis Text Line.

By practicing self-care regularly, even when you’re not feeling stressed out, you can make it through. Remember: at the end of the day, we are capable of much more than we think.

Megan Banning is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and sophomore at Arizona State University studying sociology, women & gender studies, and art history. She is currently working for Hope XChange and Crisis Text Line.

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