When we think of “Self-care” we think of those stereotypical long bubble baths, days at the beach, trips to the spa, and decadent desserts…or at least that’s what advertising agencies want us to think! I’ll be honest with you: those all sound great and I would never turn down any of those four things. But, I think I have four much more crucial and contemporary self-care tips to help restore your physical, mental, and emotional health and happiness.
1. STOP INDULGING TOXIC PEOPLE
Not to sound overly harsh, but who says we need to be friends with everyone? I thought that was one of the lessons we were supposed to learn in high school. I’ve always told my kids: you need to be kind to everyone; but you don’t need to be everyone’s friend.
Unfortunately, toxic people prey on kindness. Toxic people want you to be as unhappy as they are, and they see your kindness as a weakness. Toxic people exploit you, belittle you, and practice “Gaslighting”.
- Exploit: Toxic people exploit your kindness because they know you won’t say “no” to them. They take your selflessness and generosity and use it to their advantage, until you’re so emotionally drained, you have nothing left for yourself.
- Belittle: Toxic people take advantage of every opportunity they get to embarrass, tease, mock, and belittle you. One-on-one, they may seem sweet as pie and completely friendly, but once a third party is introduced, they step on you to try and stand a little taller.
- “Gaslighting” transfers all the responsibility for everything negative—all the problems in your relationship–onto you. “I’m not angry, you’re angry”; “I’m perfectly fine, you’re always unhappy”, etc. It’s done very subtly over time, but if you don’t have a rock-hard self-image, it can be very powerful and very destructive. Read more about Gaslighting here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-warning-signs-gaslighting
START NURTURING POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS
By no means should you change yourself. Don’t empower negative people by surrendering your positivity. Instead, show yourself a little self-care by nurturing positive relationships. Look for the people in your life who aren’t doing the three things listed above and develop those relationships. Or if you have to, seek out completely new friends! It might seem impossible, but it’s not—I’ve done it. In order to do it, you have to be a good friend yourself.
Here’s how to be a good friend:
- Smile. Short and simple: positivity attracts positivity. Consistently (I didn’t say always) bring happiness to another’s life, and they will always want to be your friend.
- Listen to understand, not respond. Understanding builds empathy—the secret #1 quality of all lasting relationships.
- Share commonality—it’s okay to have that one friend that you just go running with, or the one that you text after a long day at work. Those relationships are just as worthy as one best friend you do everything with. The reality is, as adults, our lives are so full of other responsibilities and pursuits, having that one friend we do everything with just might not exist, and that’s okay.
2. STOP FEELING RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER’S EMOTIONS
I’ll admit this is a hard one for me. I think when we provide a safe space for people (ahem, children too), they want to turn us into their Dumping Ground. And we, loving them as much as we do, want to pick up all the broken pieces and put them back together. The problem is, it’s emotionally exhausting us, not them.
Picture a dead dandelion. We’ve all picked them up and blown the spores to watch them float away in the air. People will come to you and blast this gust of air, and the spores: their stress, their concerns, their anxieties explode and stick all over you, and then they are free and clear. They scamper away, and you are left covered in their emotional mess.
Instead of letting those spores suffocate you, carefully lint-roll them right off you, gather them up in a tidy little ball, and put it in your back pocket to address with the person later, when everyone’s emotions have cooled.
START INVESTING TIME IN YOURSELF
It is your right to gently tell someone they’ve hurt you. But, if they’ve exploded disproportionately, walk away and wait for the person who has emotionally vomited on you to cool down.
In the meantime, take time to de-saturate yourself with one of the 4 self-care stereotypes mentioned earlier, or:
Every one of those activities should be part of our regular routine anyway! Do a quick inventory of when you last did some of those things. Or better yet, make your own list of things that help calm and relax you. Keep them on hand for the next time you feel like someone’s Dumping Ground. Consider it your Personal Investment Portfolio!
NOTE: You also have the right to not engage the other person anymore, if you have tried to talk with them calmly, and they refuse to change the way they talk to you. In this case, you absolutely have the right to completely disengage with the person to stop them wreaking havoc on your emotions any further.
3. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
I have to hand it to our rising Millennial Generation,
I don’t think I know I wasn’t emotionally secure enough to have survived my teenage years amidst the current Social Media Warfare.
And I’m not even talking about cyber-bullying. I’m talking about the “positive” stuff! Just like we logically know that every model in every magazine is airbrushed to absurdity, yet still aspire to look like them; we also logically know that we only present our best selves on social media, yet think everyone else’s life is so much grander than our own. STOP! Stop comparing your every day to someone else’s best day.
Think of Social Media as our modern-day Scrapbook. We used to take pictures of new places we’d never visited before, friends and family we didn’t see often, holidays when everyone was together and dressed their best. But how many pictures didn’t make it into the scrapbook? All the ones with the sweaty toddler throwing a temper-tantrum on the floor, Grandpa’s finger up his nose, the clueless tourist walking through our shot of the Statue of Liberty—you know I’m right.
Now think, for every ONE picture posted on Facebook or Instagram, how many more did you take that you wouldn’t dare post? 30? 40? 100?
Just think of this:
Who does that??? Who, in need of a new profile picture, just snaps a selfie at any given moment? NOBODY! I think this option only exist to make us feel bad about ourselves and perpetuate this Social Media Warfare!
EDIT–I’ve been corrected by my daughters. They say grandmothers do that—and they take it in bad lighting with only ¾ of their face showing, because…they don’t care! Be like Grandma who doesn’t give a crap what anyone else thinks of you!
START A SOCIAL MEDIA FAST or CLEANSE
Let’s get serious for a second here. In the last 20 years there has been a significant increase in depression and suicide. The CDC reports a 30% increase in suicide across the board: in almost every state, for every age group, ethnicity, and gender. If there was ever a time where the need to stop comparing ourselves to others has reached its climax, it’s now.
“The number of followers you have does not make you better than anyone else. Hitler had millions, Jesus had 12.”
Don’t let someone else’s version of happiness dictate your own. If going on Social Media is consistently leaving you feeling bad about yourself, consider a Social Media fast. It might surprise you how difficult it is, but take a really close look at how you’re feeling while away from it.
Once you come back to Social Media, or if you don’t feel like you need a fast, consider doing a cleanse, so to speak. What I mean is, purge who you follow, who’s posts you see from all your accounts. If you wouldn’t invite someone into your home for family dinner, don’t let them get into your head through your phone. In short, don’t allow others’ performance on Social Media prevent you from living your best life.
4. STOP HOLDING ON TO THE PAST
We all make mistakes, plain and simple. We should also always sincerely apologize and do our absolute best to make amends for those mistakes. Once we do those things, it’s over. Dwelling on the past prevents us from progressing. It prevents us from learning, which is how we make good on mistakes.
Just like living in the future creates anxiety, dwelling on the past encourages depression. What is there to be done for yesterday other than improve upon it today? “No man can serve two masters”. By dwelling on the past, you’re “serving” and empowering your past, which is dead and gone. This prevents you from focusing all your needed energy on your present. Simply put, you can’t have it both ways. Where do you want to put your focus?
START LETTING GO OF MISTAKES
One of the most crucial Self-care tips is forgiving yourself. Heed the wise words of Thomas Rhett…;)
That sun’s gonna come upThomas Rhett
It’s gonna feel good
And after all the rain and pain you’ve seen
I hope you soak it up like you should
When we hold onto the past, we choose to stand in the rain. Get out of the rain. Stand in the sunlight. Soak it in to clear away regrets, heartache, and anger, and just focus on making today better than yesterday.
 Check out this article by Josh Spector for more details about building confidence. My favorite part: “Confidence isn’t the absence of Fear”. https://fortheinterested.com/misunderstanding-confidence/