Taking Care of Yourself

Photo Caption: A sad person, enjoying the sunshine. Sometimes, doing the bare minimum is enough. Image by Ru Conrad.

If you’re anything like me, the past few weeks (or months… or years…) have been rough on your mental health. All motivation is out the window as soon as I get home from school. Minutes and hours pass by with me scrolling through my phone, dirty laundry on my floor staring at me, and missing assignments piling up in Canvas.

Frankly, life sucks.

After what has felt like an eternity of living like this, I’ve decided to try (keyword: TRY) to make myself feel a bit less rotten. These are some tips I have gathered that have worked for myself, and maybe they will also work for you, my dear reader. If not, that’s okay too. You’ll be able to get yourself out of this rut somehow. I believe in you.

In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, “Girl you’re amazin’, just the way you are. When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change” (he didn’t actually say that). While doing self care, it’s important to not try to become a different person. Keeping goals realistic and customized to you as an individual is of the utmost importance. There is this acronym my freshman year Health teacher taught us when setting goals: S.M.A.R.T. This means your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. While this is a decent way to format goals around self-care, it also was given to me via school. Considering school is probably one of the reasons why you’re feeling crappy right now, let’s not think about it.

In any case, it’s important to customize your self-care to yourself. Some people can have very low energy and still be productive, while others can barely get out of bed (I am personally residing in the “barely get out of bed” camp, so no judgment here). Not everyone has the ability to become the next Instagram “It Girl,” and right now is the time to be honest instead of setting yourself up for disappointment.

After taming your idealistic fantasies, the next thing to do is to identify if any of your basic needs are not being met by your lack of self care. Are you drinking enough water? Eating enough food? Are you and your surroundings clean and hygienic? Making sure your basic needs are met sets you up for success when it comes to doing other acts of self care.

If you realize you aren’t eating enough, you can set meal reminders for yourself on your phone. Also making sure you are stocked on food you will ACTUALLY eat, and not Pinterest meal prep that you ate half a serving of and hated. Get your comfort foods, the stuff that makes you feel good, and dig into that deliciousness. No need to think about health right now; if you’re forgetting to feed yourself, it’s best to get something in your system over nothing. 

Need to drink more water? Make sure to keep a glass or water bottle near your bed. This seriously helps me, because I will just absentmindedly sip on my water while watching YouTube or staring off into space while thinking of our ultimate demise (you know, typical teenager stuff).

Personal hygiene is commonly one of the first things to be forgotten when someone is struggling with self care. If this is you, there are plenty of things to help. “A job worth doing is a job worth doing poorly,” said McDaniel junior Alder Bailey-Conklin. This is my motto when it comes to taking care of myself. Need to brush your teeth but don’t have energy? Mouthwash. Need to wash your face but getting up sounds like torture? Keep face wipes by your bed, or just splash some water on your face the next time you go to the bathroom. “Baby powder in your hair works the same as shower for grease,” says Franklin senior Gabrielle Campbell. The point is, there are many shortcuts to being able to take care of your hygiene. Doing something at one percent effort is still better than not doing it at all.

This ideology also works well when it comes to cleaning. Let’s face it, we all have had disastrous bedrooms when we are feeling depressed, stressed or anxious. Clothes and trash cover the floor, your plants are wilting if they weren’t dead already, and your mind gets a little more sad when you enter your room and plop down on your crumb-infested bed. Once a bedroom gets to a certain amount of messiness, it feels like it’ll never be able to be clean. 

But this is when baby steps are most important. Just picking up a few clothes off the floor, clearing the trash off of your desk, or changing your sheets, can make a huge difference once these actions build onto each other. Is your room just too overwhelming to be productive in? Then leave it. Walk out the door. Getting out of my messy room often helps me get out of the chaos in my head, and it will probably help you, even a little bit. Even just sitting outside for five minutes can make me feel better. If you have more energy, walk or bus to the nearest park or cafe and maybe do some homework there, instead of your chaotic room.

Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, be easy on yourself. You will not get anywhere beating yourself up over any minor setback. Learn from your mistakes and grow from them. The best way to make peace with yourself internally is to express it externally; journaling, crying, talking to loved ones and chatting with a counselor or therapist are great ways to be able to process any emotions you are feeling. 

If you need someone to talk to, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be accessed by calling 800-273-8255. Phone calls aren’t your thing? Chat with someone at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. Youthline is another great resource for teens, because you can talk to other teens confidentially and securely, and it’s also accessible 24 hours a day. Call Youthline at 877-968-8491, text “teen2teen” to 839863 or chat with them at https://oregonyouthline.org/. There are also many resources out there for specific identities, such as for BIPOC, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those struggling with homelessness, etc. The point is, you always have someone to talk to if you’re struggling and need support.

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