Life

Mental Health Check: Self Care

***Note: I use the word “stress” in this post as a general term. I also get anxious and tend to get physically sick as well when I am not mentally well. But to simplify this, it’s easier to refer to what I feel as stress. I have not felt the need to get counseling or seek therapy, but if you are in a mental place that needs it, I encourage you to seek the help that you need. I am no doctor, so this self-care post is strictly about how I take care of my mental health, not what you personally need to do. This is my empowerment to you to take charge of your mental health. Everyone’s mental health journey is specific to them. You are a unique and wonderful individual, please seek professional help if you need it.***

Stop what you’re doing.

No seriously…stop for just one minute and check in with yourself.

Think about your mood, your stress level, your physical health, and really take a good look at your overall mental health.

Daily life takes a toll on your mental health. Some of you have stressful jobs, a stressful home life, or other factors to your life that wear you out emotionally and mentally. I don’t know your story, but you’re starting to get an idea of mine and have probably figured that my job stresses me out…a lot! Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, it was one of the best decisions of my life. But it’s stressful as hell and I’ve had to come up with ways of dealing with that stress.

For me, when I get stressed I tend to go to a dark and hopeless place; and for a long time I let it get to me. I tend not to eat, not want to do anything, and I sleep a lot (I cry a lot too, but we don’t need to talk about that!). I basically shut down. It’s not fun, but I know that I’m not the only one that struggles with it, and I don’t struggle nearly as bad as other people. For the longest time I would suck it up and carry on. As I’ve gotten older and grown emotionally, I’ve realized shutting down is not an option. I can’t miss work, or drill, or stop doing housework because I’m stressed about something. Life doesn’t stop. So, what do I do about it?

The biggest thing that I’ve done to help combat my stress is self-care. It’s not a new idea, and in fact I’m sure you’ve read many things on it already on just about every other social media source. That’s how I found out about it myself. For me it was a novel idea, taking time for myself. I am very quick to put my personal care on the back burner, so I can take care of other people or do something for someone else. The biggest thing I’ve learned about self-care is that it looks different for everyone, and that your self-care can develop as your needs do. I have a couple different methods of self-care. And my self-care methods while I’m away from home are different than what I normally do.

That’s what self care looks like for me at home. A bottle of wine, a hot bubble bath, and a book or a movie. I sit and just chill and take a break from everyone. I leave my phone in the other room and disconnect from whatever is bothering me. I’ve even taken a break from my husband once or twice by locking him out of our bathroom! (Don’t worry…he understands) It’s my personal safe haven and I’ve worked to make it a peaceful place for when I need to take a few minutes for myself. I usually reserve this for times when I need to completely breakaway. It’s half an hour of peace in an otherwise hectic life.

For more of a daily self-care, I have some mindless games on my phone. If I need to take a break from work or just to relax my mind, I find simple games help me detach and reset. My go-to games are things like brick breaking or bubble pop games. Having these on my phone allows me to take short breaks throughout the day. That short break gives me a chance to reset my mind. Often, I find that after I take these short breaks, I am able to tackle whatever task I was working on with a new, fresh mindset. Taking time out of your day to break away from stress is something I encourage everyone to do- from my family members to my soldiers and now to you guys. A ten-minute break three times a day…that’s 30 whole minutes to break away from what’s bothering you! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but those short breaks add up.

But lately my self-care methods have had to change. I’ve been living in a barracks building or a tent since August of last year. I haven’t had my bubble baths or wine (I know! Tragic!). It took me a while to figure out what I needed to do to take care of myself physically and mentally. I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again and again…I’m a work in progress. I’m not happy with how long it took me to figure out what worked to get me into a good mental place again…but I got there. It was a long process, and I’m constantly working at keeping the promise that I made to myself, but I’m getting there.

When your self-care process has to change, don’t let yourself get down if it takes you time to find what works for you. For me, it started small. Obviously from the picture above, my self-care here is really focused on my skin care routine. It all started with a night cream.

Do I need it? No, I’m 26 and don’t have wrinkles.

BUT!

Adding that face cream gave me a new regimen to start. At the end of the day, I had to get up out of my bunk and wash my face and put on that night cream. I was able to take 5 minutes to wind down and “wash away” (cheesy I know) the stress of the day. That nightly routine then led to a morning skin care routine, something I’ve always kind of had, but I never really followed it. But now I had to wash the night cream off my face. I invested in a nice facial brush, it’s waterproof and battery operated, and you can get it on Amazon. I even got a few masks so I can take a few minutes here and there to just be still.

So here’s my challenge to you:

Check in with yourself more often. Find something that you do for YOU. It may be for just five minutes a day, or it may be when you are in extreme crisis. Just take the time to check in with yourself, get away from your stressors, and focus on the positive things in life. And…yes. Wine can be your positive thing.

Don’t let the world get you down.

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