“Take care.”

Self care is something that I think is amazingly important. I recently left my job as a part time receptionist and moved into a full time position as a student support officer. I was close with a few people at my old workplace, and one of them told me that moving into full time work would up my stress and it was very, very important to take care of myself, even though often I would be so tired I wouldn’t want to bother. Well, she was right.

Changing jobs was stressful. Not as stressful as I thought it would be, but definitely stressful. More stressful was that only a couple of weeks after I began in my new position, my grandmother got sick and was put in hospital and given two days to live. That was a few weeks ago and she’s still alive and kicking, which is why we call her Lazarus (for those unfamiliar with the Biblical story, Lazarus rose from the dead. My grandmother has been given her Last Rites (you know, the things you have once, right before you die) nine times now. Hence, Lazarus).

So, all the family came up. And, as with every family, there are people that relieve stress and those that add to it. Some of my family definitely make my stress levels rise.

After that little dramatic moment, we’ve had family around nearly every weekend, stress at work, assessments due at uni (because apparently I thought I could do it all. Ha!) and all of this has resulted in me being a little ball of stress.

Not that I noticed this right away, of course. I thought I was coping really well. I thought that I was handling everything, helping out to help others and acing life. And then my sister slurped her drink and it pushed me over the edge and I sat and cried in my room for like an hour. And that was when I was like, “Hmm, okay, maybe not at my best.”

It was my birthday two weeks ago, and so I decided for my birthday I would stay the night at a hotel with a big spa bath and treat myself. Except that weekend and the next the university was having graduations, so everywhere was booked up. But now, two weeks later, I’m sitting on a hotel bed. Let me tell you about it:

I had a driving lesson this morning, then went down town and picked up a few things, some bubble bath, some bath bombs, and some sweet treats. I then went home, had lunch, packed my bags and headed to the hotel (only 2 blocks from home). I got my room key and walked down to my room. I unlocked the door and stepped in.

Guys,

I was so shocked. I’m used to staying at youth hostels, sharing with at least 5 other people, the most fancy room I’ve stayed at was just big enough to fit a single bed in it. I walked into this room and it was a living room. A living room! Off the living room is the bathroom (which is made of TWO rooms!) and the bedroom! I was so shocked and so excited. I videoed my friends to show them. And, I’m not ashamed to admit, I ran and jumped onto the bed.

So, since I’ve been here, I had a bath. Now, this bath is amazing. It’s a spa bath. It’s big enough to fit three people comfortably (not that it will be). I filled it up, put in the bubbles and bath bomb and jumped in. Now, I’m not used to spa baths, so I had no idea that when I turned on the jets they would fluff up the bubble bath even more. One third of the bath was bubbles.

A. Maz. Ing.

I did a face mask, had music on, and shaved my legs. Then I got out and got all snuggled up in a dressing gown and put the tv on. I’ve ordered dinner and am in my pajamas and it’s not even 7pm yet!

And you know what, all my problems, all the stress factors feel so far away.

For the first time in weeks I haven’t been sitting and stewing over all the things I need to do at work, home and uni. I haven’t had to interact with anyone, I haven’t had to run around after anyone, I haven’t had to do anything. If I want to, I’ll do some study. Most likely, I’ll eat my dinner and fall asleep. Hell, I might even have another bath.

Now, this might just seem like I’m putting a hold on things, just ignoring problems. I mean, they’ll still be there when I go home, right?

Well, yeah, they will be. But I’ll be refreshed, calm and more able to deal with them, which means they’ll be a hell of a lot less likely to overwhelm me. I can just get in and deal with them.

Now, I’m not saying you need to go and book a hotel room. Although, if you can, maybe you should. But you do need to make sure that you take time for you. Whether it’s taking an hour out to do your nails, or have a bath, or just to sit and bitch to a friend, you need to find something that helps you feel more relaxed, calmer and more refreshed. You need to make sure that there’s a regular time for you to just check out. You can’t be switched on all the time, you’ll blow out. Everyone needs time out, and it’s so important to find it, even when there are extra people around, everyone needs something from you, your boss needs you to work overtime and you have assignments due.

I don’t often do this, but here’s a challenge: This week find fifteen minutes minimum. Make a cup of tea, some juice, whatever. And then just sit. And breathe. And drink. And everytime a thought of “I need to-” or “x needs this” comes into your head, close your eyes, take a deep breath and exhale it. Then take five deep, slow breaths and open your eyes again.

Try this. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Just find something that helps you to relax. Take care of yourself, because if you don’t, you can’t take care of anyone else.

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Treat yo self!

I’m a big believe in self-care and self-love. I’ve spent so much of my life hating myself and not taking care of myself, and it’s such a waste of time! It’s also super draining. During my teenage years I’d look in the mirror and cringe. I hated what I saw and who I was. I always wanted to be someone else, someone I thought was better. Now I still have days when I don’t like who I am, there are things I’d change, but I don’t hate myself. Most of the time.

Today I took myself on a date. As I (half-jokingly) said to my friends “No one else will, so I might as well do it!” After all, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself! Really, I’d had a fight with my parents. It had greatly upset me and I needed to get out of the house. It was raining, but I pulled on my boots and a jacket and went out. I started feeling better immediately. I love walking in the rain, especially around trees and grass. Out in the open I felt like I could breathe better, like I wasn’t trapped. I walked into town and went to Spotlight, a craft store. I walked around in there for a while, then went into K-Mart (incidentally, one of my favourite shop). There I decided to buy myself a set of water colour paints, some brushes and an art book. It wasn’t expensive, but it’s something I’ve thought about buying for a while. After that I went down to the cinema and watched The Girl on The Train (great flick!).

By the time I got home again, I was feeling calmer, happier and more peaceful. Comparing that to my mood when I left – tearful, strained and anxious – it was a great improvement.

I used to feel so guilty spending money on things like that. I felt like every cent I earned had to go into savings or something ‘important’. Then I realised: This is important. Taking care of yourself, doing things that make you happy, spending money on yourself, it’s all okay. I have a nice little lump of savings and it shouldn’t make me feel guilty to spend ten dollars on painting gear! If I was dropping hundreds of dollars every weekend, yeah, maybe a little excessive.

It’s okay to treat yourself to things. If you put in the hard yards and earn the money, then you shouldn’t feel bad about buying something you’ve saved up for (provided bills are paid first!). There are some things that I’ve bought ‘just because’ and they still make me happy. Some things are just junk, but it brought me joy at the time, and I don’t regret that. Part of taking care of yourself is knowing that it’s okay sometimes to spoil yourself. Go to a salon, have the more expensive cocktail, buy the blue AND purple nail polish. Treat yo self.

 

Image credit: candy.com