Repeat after me: an important part about being a fully-functional, stable and healthy adult is your ability to take care of yourself.
When people talk about self care, they usually talk about eating healthy, meditating and getting rid of bad emotions and all that. Which is all true, of course, but there’s so much more to self care than just that.
Take you, for example. As an adult with a job, on the way to buying a house and doing more adult things, they don’t really give you time to spend on yourself. Most of the time, you’re too busy with work and paying off loans to fully focus on your needs. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing — it’s just what we have to do when we’re adults and we learn to accept the stress it brings as part of our weekly routine.
Though that doesn’t mean we can’t relax when the weekend comes or somewhere in between. With lockdown and the movement control order, it was difficult to chill as it seemed like we’re working throughout the whole week instead of just the weekdays. And since the borders have opened and SOPs are relaxing, why don’t we indulge ourselves? Just this once?
Please note: it goes without saying that the numbers are still quite high and though we deserve a break and some self care, we still need to protect ourselves and others from potentially spreading COVID-19.
This looks easy. In fact, it’s so easy that we find ourselves falling asleep almost everywhere. At our desk while working, when we’re binge watching a series on Netflix, or times when we listen to a colleague talk during a particularly long meeting. But why is it so hard to fall asleep while we’re already cozy in bed?
Insomnia is one thing but is it also because we keep taking two-hour (read: four) naps in the middle of the day? Are our biological clocks now just stationed at sleeping when the sun’s out? But oh no, we can’t have that! How will we get any work done at all?
One way to remedy that is to train your body to sleep at a specific time and wake up at a specific time. It’s harder than I make it sound. As a person who has tried this multiple times and has failed multiple times, 16th time’s the charm.
Let me help you out: I start off by limiting my coffee intake. By limiting, I mean I stop drinking coffee after 6pm. I usually also set alarms to remind myself to get ready for bed and drink a cup of warm milk before shutting off the lights. If those don’t work, I try to listen to soothing music to put me under.
But if none of those work for you, I’m really sorry. Maybe consider consulting someone about that, I guess? I’m not a doctor and I can only do so much to help.
Have a Healthy Diet
This is where all of you go “I am on a diet. A seafood diet. I see food and eat it.” *cue laughing track*. We get it. Who doesn’t love food? Especially living in Malaysia where food is abundant and there’s just so many kinds of dishes to choose from. Why should you limit yourself?
You’re right, you shouldn’t. The “limit” here only refers to how much you eat before it becomes unhealthy. It’s okay to pack your plate up with multiple kinds of food but do it in moderation. If you’re at a party, have a spoonful of each dish to try them out. Only go for seconds if you’re still starving.
Another thing to avoid is not eating. Contrary to popular belief, being on a diet doesn’t mean you don’t eat. It just means you ration them based on their calorie counts. It’s hard, I’m not going to lie but in the name of a happier, healthier you, there are just some things that need to be sacrificed.
Also, this goes without saying: DRINK WATER! You can’t just live off of coffee for the rest of your life.
Learning To Say No
Part of self care is learning to be a little bit selfish. But for good reason. You’re always doing things for others and in the end, not having enough energy to do things for yourself. Doesn’t that sound a little unfair to you?
Now’s the time you set some boundaries for yourself. It’s okay to want to be helpful to people but at what point will that become a chore and everyone just expects you to say yes whenever they ask something of you? In the end, you’re the one that feels bad for “letting them down” when it’s not even your fault to begin with.
Growing up is realising that not everyone shares your thoughts and you can’t expect them to understand you just because you’re a lot older. Some people need to be told what to expect from you. Just because you used to help them out all the time in the past doesn’t give them the right to dump their unfinished projects on you and expect you to pick up the pieces.
They might not always like it, but the reality is that you can now choose to help if you want out of the goodness of your heart. But you aren’t obligated to do so. They need to know your limits and what you did for them in your spare time doesn’t mean they’re owed that forever.
A Little Fresh Air Never Hurt Anyone
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, take a few minutes to take a breather. If you’re working from home, use your lunchtime to take a stroll around your neighborhood. Research shows that taking a 15-minute walk boosts your concentration and creativity and would then make you more productive.
You could also try out some breathing exercises to help calm yourself down whenever you feel like you’re in a rut. Meditation may help for some people but I personally can’t stay still long enough to meditate. So I just went along with the breathing exercises every few hours. It works wonders in lowering down my blood pressure.
If you have a car, the best thing to do when you’re feeling suffocated is to drive around. The feel of the wind blowing through your hair is very satisfying. If you don’t have a car but you’re planning on getting one, we could help you out with that!
I know what you’re going to say. When am I going to have time to write anything down? That’s just it, make time. Take a little bit of time out of your day to write down what you feel. It can be before going to bed, or it can be while you’re having lunch. Whichever way you want. If you do it often enough, writing down your thoughts and emotions will feel like second nature to you and will take no time at all.
Over the past three decades, a growing body of literature has demonstrated the beneficial effects that writing has on physical and emotional health. Writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health.
Whenever you have an important event or meeting or whatsoever, if you have it written down, you’re most likely to remember it. Journalling actually does wonders in boosting your mood and keeping your memory sharp. You’ll feel as if you’re at ease with the day after ranting to your notebook about it.
During college, I actually wrote my thesis on how journalling and writing down your feelings is one of the coping mechanisms that is very much effective for students and adults with social anxiety.
It’s Hard, But You Can Do It
Adulting is hard. And we were thrusted into it without training wheels on. We don’t know how to do a lot of things and the things we do know, we’re kind of struggling to do it right. There’s just so much to learn.
But fret not, the part of being an adult is to discover yourself and see what makes you happy. I also take comfort in knowing that no matter how old you get, there are still new things to discover, both about the world and yourselves.
If you’re a new adult person, here’s one way to prepare yourself for your first adulthood trip: