I’m sure at this point we’ve all heard and seen plenty of content about self-care on the internet. We can now totally justify buying sushi for the third time in a week with a simple “treat yo self!”
In this day and age, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high. I'm sure you've seen the thousands of memes out there centered around depression and anxiety, who hasn't? There is scientific evidence documenting the rise of mental illness. Studies performed have shown that anxiety and depression are significantly higher than ever before. Here are two studies that will give you an idea of how common anxiety and depression are:
Klerman, G. L., & Weissman, M. M. (1989). Increasing rates of depression.Journal of the American Medical Association, 261, 2229–2235.
Lester, D. (2013). Hopelessness in undergraduate students around the world: A review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 150, 1204–1208.
So now more than ever, it’s important to prioritize your mental health just as much as your physical health. It’s more than just buying your favorite bath bomb or eating out after a bad day. It’s about consistently creating a safe space for yourself and incorporating it into your daily routine. How exactly do we go about that? Personally, I think there are two things we could all use more of.
Webster’s dictionary defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”
You know those moments when you’re on autopilot? When you can’t remember how you even got somewhere while driving or walking? Yeah, that’s the opposite of mindfulness. Mindfulness is about taking time out of the day to check in with yourself. This is especially helpful if you have anxiety. Are you holding tension in your body? Are you biting your nails? Do you feel like you have a pit in your stomach? Take a moment to analyze your body and emotions. Acknowledge and address them before it spirals out of control.
I’m sure most of us have heard of Pavlov’s dog. The study where every time they brought food out, they would ring a bell. After a while, the dog would begin to salivate just at the sound of the bell! Well, we can do that for ourselves, too. We are creatures of habit and we thrive off of routines. So make your own and stick to it! At the end of the day, when it’s my time to relax in bed and stop working, I light my favorite candle. Now, whenever I smell vanilla, I can instantly feel my body begin to relax and I get sleepy. As long as you’re consistent, you can do this with anything. Ending every day with a hot bath can let your body know that it’s time to unwind.
There are plenty of tips and tricks out there, but at the end of the day, it’s important to acknowledge that self-care shouldn’t be used on an as-needed basis. For some of us, especially those with depression and anxiety, it can be a full-time job! So, before you “treat yo self” to some Chick-fil-A or binge watch a show on Netflix, ask yourself: Am I really practicing self-care right now? Or just distracting myself?- Sabreen Y.