Having a bath? Feel bad for hogging the bathroom for 20 minutes or so? Tucking into a slice of cake? Worrying about the calories and if onlookers think maybe you should put that red velvet down now? Not down at the gym pumping weights and sprinting on the treadmill? Feeling ashamed because surely everyone else is wide-awake at 5am doing just that.
The answer is. You deserve it.
It may not be as obvious as a sling on a broken arm, or a plaster on a cut finger, but if you are in a negative headspace and you are not feeling 100%, then self-care is the equivalent to strapping a ‘Kool n Soothe’ on your head for a migraine. Just because it isn’t physically obvious, that doesn’t mean you are not entitled to look after yourself.
I am guilty of the above feelings and even more. If I have a lie in or take a 3pm nap I am met with this overwhelming wave of self-hatred and guilt.
‘Other people surely don’t nap in the day! I’m not a baby anymore!’.
Or I’ll have a constant internal argument with myself about maybe trying to lose some weight to stay ‘Instagram slim’ while tucking into another packet of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. All I want when I feel rubbish is chocolate. I can never relax and if I attempt too, I can’t not feel shame for my actions.
Like your body bleeds or throbs with pain if you fall over and hurt yourself, your head if hurt, is trying to tell you through low mood, high anxiety, mood swings, constant exhaustion, ruminations etc. that you are not feeling very well. Upsettingly sometimes your head takes one of these side effects to the ultimate extreme just to get its point across to you that it would like a bit of TLC. Just because there is no physical sign does not mean that it isn’t there.
I’m a strong believer in listening to what your body needs and with that we also need to listen to what our mind wants. If you need to sleep. Sleep. If you need to unwind in a bubble bath and use all the expensive products. Do it. I want you to know that out there, someone else is doing the exact same thing for himself or herself, and it is not something to feel guilty about.
You wouldn’t deprive someone with a twisted ankle a pack of frozen peas and a footrest. Why deprive your head of TLC. Your head needs it too.
Personally, the hardest thing for me is accepting that I’m not feeling the best version of myself and constantly worrying about other people’s opinions of me. Trying to fit in with social norms and appear ‘perfect’ all the time is exhausting in itself, and I often find I put my mental well being on the back burner. There is nothing wrong in putting your feelings first, and that is something I have only just come to terms with in the last year or so.
A few years ago, after having had a rough time at the end of University, I felt riddled with self-hatred and just generally hollow. My sister after having listened to me in the kitchen one morning said something that really changed my outlook on the situation. A way I had not thought of before.
She said that had I been in a physical fight my body would be covered head to toe in bruises from the amount of hits I took. She explained that although I physically appeared bruise free, my head had been battered by the situation. Pulsating with pain mentally rather than physically. Traumatic events and situations, whether they be friendship quarrels, relationship break downs, death, family feuds, or simply just unexplained periods of deep rooted low mood etc. they unfortunately have a long afterlife.
The reality of the situation is that we can’t just stick a plaster over it, or tweezer out that splinter. We have to heal in a different way.
I don’t think my sister truly knew how much that metaphor stuck with me, but it did. Sometimes mental trauma is much more scarring then physical wounds.
You must do what makes your head happy.
So, if your brain wants you to have a piece of Victoria Sponge you GO FOR IT. In the words of Joey Tribbiani from Friends I tell myself, ‘I’m curvy and I like it’.
What are your go-to self care methods?