One of the things that I have realised, on a huge level, is that taking care of yourself is probably the most important thing in life. It is so fundamental that I think many people today forget to do it. A part of me thinks that the reason for this is because there is a heightened sense, in today’s culture, of people needing to remain connected with one another. Since the advent of social media, more and more people are staying connected, whether this be through online messaging apps, social media websites or any other forms of social media. As we can send our friends and family messages in an instant, the consensus seems to be that a response to that message should also be instantaneous (or as instantaneous as possible). I will admit: I have allowed myself to have this mentality for a very long time. It has led to increased over thinking and anxiety, which has not helped my mental health at all.
Given that anxiety can be a very powerful emotion, which takes over my thoughts and can sometimes cause me to feel paralysed, it has the potential to cause me to lose perspective and forget to take care of myself. Of course, anxiety and depression don’t always go hand in hand but when it gets to that crippling stage, my anxiety will more often than not make me feel pathetic and worthless, which will cause me to have a bad depressive episode. When I am depressed, nothing in my life matters. Even if I can bring myself to go to work, I will do the bare minimum to survive. I have talked in my previous posts about my day-to-day routine when going through a depressive episode and it takes the form of waking up mere minutes before I need to leave for work, working my shift, coming home, eating dinner and going to bed. There was very little (if any) self-care in my routine.
I came to realise that making sure I took care of myself is very important for my own mental wellbeing. It also bled into my day-to-day life and allowed me to set long-term goals. Those of you who have been reading my blog up to this point will know that I have been making little to-do lists for myself. My to-do lists are always broken up into two sections: “Must Do” and “Extras”. The aim each day is to complete the tasks on my “Must Do” list; anything from the “Extras” list that I managed to do was then a bonus and I saw it as a win, whether this be one task or five. Now, the main idea behind this was that all of the tasks on the “Must Do” list would be things that I should do to take care of myself. I stripped everything back to the fundamentals and the basics of living. Things like “eat food”, “drink water”, “brush teeth”, etc. You may think that putting these things on a to-do list is strange or even stupid and I would understand if you did think that; however, it has been something that has really helped me. Going back to basics and making sure that I took care of myself in the simplest terms has been infinitely beneficial to both my mental health and my life. By ticking each thing off from a to-do list, I gave myself a sense of accomplishment. Once everything on the self-care side of the list has been completed, I call it a win and I don’t put too much pressure on myself to anything else that isn’t as essential. Removing the pressure from my life and taking each day one step at a time has calmed my brain and I have found that my anxiety does not interrupt my life anywhere near as much as it used to (although it has not disappeared completely, I feel like I am managing to cope a lot better with it).
It has had an effect on my day-to-day life that I would never have dreamt. It has given me a different perspective on my life. Completing my to-do lists each day and appreciating the sense of accomplishment made me realise that I can accomplish things. It made me realise that I can do things if I set my mind to them. It gave me a strong motivation to better myself even further. This led to me looking at other aspects of my life that were potentially holding me back in terms of my happiness and mental health. In my post “Finding Fulfilment”, I describe this in more detail as being the moment when I found my path in life and set myself long-term goals for my career and home life. Honestly, going from feeling worthless and pathetic to feeling like I actually have something to offer this world, more importantly, to offer myself, has been incredible. Such a simple thing as looking after myself has been a catalyst of my life blossoming in so many ways.
Of course, I can’t forget another important side effect of ensuring that you are taking care of yourself: it allows you to take care of others and change things around you for the greater good. If you don’t look after yourself, how will you be any good at taking care of others? If you can’t identify things that you are doing wrongly in your own life and resolve them, how can you identify things that are wrong in the world and resolve them. This is a very important thing to keep in mind and it is something that I will think about for the rest of my life.
Love and Peace.