This February, I’m doing #LoveMe, a challenge designed to help you learn to love yourself! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be kinder and more gentle to myself, so I’m trying to be as positive as I can possibly be in 2017 and hope that doing this challenge will be good for my mental health and overall well-being. Check out my previous #LoveMe posts here!
Today’s prompt is:
What makes you feel beautiful?
I feel most beautiful when I take care of myself.
What does taking care of myself look like? I’m glad you asked.
Taking care of myself looks like eating right: Eating three meals a day, neither too much nor too little at a time, eating healthy food, occasionally treating myself but doing my best to put good nutrition first.
Taking care of myself looks like getting enough sleep. This is a HUGE one for me because I love sleep and am terrible at functioning on very little sleep. I aim to go to bed early and wake up early, getting around eight hours each night. No naps, either – I find that they leave me feeling groggy and super depressed.
Taking care of myself looks like exercising a few times per week and enjoying the pleasant stretch in my muscles afterward.
Taking care of myself looks like making sure that I take my medication. I set a daily reminder on my phone for 7:05 AM, which is right after I get up, so that way I won’t forget!
Taking care of myself looks like going to therapy once a week, even if I’d rather think about anything but my problems and know I’ll spend the entire time struggling to articulate myself.
Taking care of myself looks like going to each and every class and, afterward, studying and doing my homework. I try to be as productive as possible ALL DAY EVERY DAY, which is sometimes hard but really pays off because I know that if I procrastinate, fall behind, or forget to do something I’ll be super stressed later. My idea of treating myself means trying to avoid situations where I’m stressed, overwhelmed, and don’t even know where to begin!
Taking care of myself looks like spending time with the people I love. My heart does a little “!!!!” every time I get a text from a friend asking if I want to get dinner with them. I adore Skyping my online friends and sometimes forget just how much distance really separates us. The Tuesday night meetings of my writing group, the Iowa Writers’ House, are one of the high points of my week because it’s an intelligent, kind, creative, and funny part of the Iowa City community.
Taking care of myself looks like regularly practicing self care. Anything from quietly listening to music that makes me happy to meditating.
Taking care of myself looks like carving out time in my busy, busy schedule to write as much and as often as I can because it makes me feel less tense and helps me sort out my thoughts.
Taking care of myself looks like taking Sundays off to do things that are just for me. No homework! No studying! No meetings if I can help it! Instead, I spend the day reading, writing, blogging, taking walks, watching movies or TV, et cetera. The best part of these days, however, is visiting an indie bookstore in town and playing with the cats who live there! As soon as I step over the threshold, my stress and sadness melt away for a while, making this a wonderful way to recharge so that I can successfully tackle the week ahead of me.
As you can see, taking care of myself is a fairly involved process! It’s often – maybe even always – hard to DO IT ALL. It’s a balancing act, really. Sometimes I manage to stay on top of everything. Sometimes I don’t.
As I was writing this post, it dawned on me that I can’t/don’t do a lot of the things mentioned above when I am severely depressed. This troubled me because the natural conclusion is that I don’t feel beautiful when I’m depressed… which is true, but obviously not something I like to think about! In fact, thinking about it too much just makes me even more depressed.
I think the key to dealing with the days when my depression is really bad is to remind myself that I’m doing the best I can. It’s perfectly all right if I don’t manage to do every single one of the activities listed above. I just need to do what I can, and hopefully that will keep me absorbed enough to not think about the whole “depression = feeling ugly” thing, because I don’t have any easy answers for that right now. I wish I did, wish I could tell you that I have that part of life all figured out. But I don’t. Maybe I will someday.
What makes you feel beautiful?