Today, I woke up feeling anxious – my chest felt tight, my mood was low and I generally didn’t feel right. However, what made this all bearable was knowing why I was feeling like this. A few months ago, I wouldn’t have understood what caused this but after spending time focused solely on my health, I know my triggers. The last ten days have been extremely busy for me; I’ve had at least two places to go everyday. That probably doesn’t sound a lot, but it has left me with no free time which really stresses me out and exacerbates my anxiety. Life can be chaotic and I have worked out a way to stay peaceful!
As an introverted person, I need time alone to switch off as being around other people can drain me – particularly if I am feeling anxious. In a month, I will be starting back at University which means I will be under immense pressure, as well as only having one day off a week (which I will probably use to finish uni work). Factoring in time to relax is something I have never been good at; I always prioritise my work and seeing friends. However, this year I have decided to put myself and my health first – especially if I’m busy.
In order to stay calm and healthy this semester, I have decided to have a weekly self-care night. When you think of a self-care night you may conjure images of bubble baths and face masks and while that may be appealing for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone. I had a misconception that self-care was pampering yourself, when in reality the idea behind this is to properly take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself means taking care of your mental health. Not everyone has mental illness, but everyone has mental health. Stressful times in our life arise and in these times, when it is more important than ever to relax, we prioritise our work over our own health. This journal will remind you to schedule in some self care for a full year.
Therefore, for one night a week I will take the full night off – no plans, no studying, no exceptions. It might seem simple but it is so easy to forget to chill out and selecting a night every week will bring this idea into fruition. Some examples of what you could do on a self-care night include meditating, reading, cooking a healthy meal, watching your favourite TV program or relaxing with a glass of wine. What you choose to do is irrelevant, as long as it is taking time for yourself to relax and you feel happy.
To conclude, no matter how busy your schedule is, you need to take time for yourself – or risk your mental health suffering due to stress. It is normal to believe that you don’t have time to spend a night focused on relaxing, but it is possible to arrange your week to suit one night off. You will probably find that you are more productive throughout the day if you know you have time off later on. In addition, I need to stop agreeing to ten plans in one week because I know I can’t handle it and there should be no shame in admitting you can’t attend because you need a night off to look after your mental health.