I feel like I see a lot of content about self care on social media that runs one of two ways. There’s plenty of positive dialogue around how to maintain a level of self care that is a “constant” – how to keep things good, when things are good. I love this stuff – whether it’s a snap of freshly bought flowers, a manicure, or a post about just enjoying the sunshine and taking time to unwind. I participate in this dialogue and I think it’s so important to celebrate the everyday simplicity and joy that shines through routine life.
There are also many excellent resources and brave posts that deal with the self care of intervention. These have had an upswing lately as more bloggers try to “lift the veil” of social media and share stories that are raw, unretouched and painful. I also have a deep appreciation for this fantastic, important work.
But there’s a place between these two arenas – a place that many of us live. This is the space of everyday highs, lows and struggles – and it can be difficult to find a fit for them in the curated economy of social media. It’s tricky to assign them a tidy narrative with a semblance of hook, escalation, denouement and resolution. They aren’t the story of a battle overcome, or even a major issue. They pass with time – but that doesn’t mean we should ignore them.
For me, this has been life lately. I’ve been feeling stressed, under the weather and just struggling to get through a busy, challenging time in my home and work life. It’s pretty hard to capture an Instagram photo of this experience (which isn’t exactly glamorous!)
In fact, it’s hard to decide whether or not to share stories that seem navel-gazing, ungrateful or mundane. (I think Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers does a great job of exploring the topic if you’re a blogger, or you’re just interested!)
I’ve realized that in these cases, you have to decide what’s best for you – whether that’s opening up online, taking a step back from the digital world, or embracing things with a less-than-perfect photo, or a rambling blog post like this one. But most importantly, it’s okay to acknowledge when things aren’t particularly awful or outstanding – they’re just not great. And those thoughts and feelings have a place on social media if you choose to allow them there. They may not be the most marketable of feelings, but they’re yours to share or hide as you choose.
Self care means addressing emotions at every point on the spectrum – and crummy days are an important part of the fabric of wellbeing. So, I don’t say this to sound defeated at all – but merely as an interesting observation that’s come to me from spending more time in the blogging community, and from spending more time looking inward lately.
And true to form, I still wanted to leave something quickly with you!
These is a small list of strategies I’ve put together – they might sound funny, but I honestly think they’re a huge help in hacking the everyday stresses that get us all down sometimes. Please add your own thoughts or tricks in the comments!
Five Ways to Feel Better When Things Aren’t Great:
- Take a flattering photo. It sounds silly, but I promise it’s not. Pictures have impact; that’s why we spend so much of our day scrolling through them. Find something great in your life and snap a photo with it. Make sure you look good, feel good, and have a positive association with the photo. It’s an instant mood booster that you can revisit on your own feed! My phone wallpaper makes me smile at work every day.
- Do whatever it takes to get an extra hour of sleep. If you have a stressful week, make a plan (and commit to it!) to get to bed earlier, Monday through Friday. If it means postponing plans until a less hectic time in your life, or skipping some screen time, I am ALL.FOR.THIS! Sleep is crucial to wellbeing – and if Arianna Huffington can make time for it, so can we!
- Uproot for 45 minutes. Take yourself out of any constant environment that may be strongly associated with your stress – whether your home, car, office. Now choose something markedly different for 45 minutes. If you’ve been sitting in a cubicle all day, jump into a pool. If you’ve spent the last 8 hours immersed in stimulation, lay in the darkness and silence for a window of undisturbed time. It’s a great way to force your mind and body to reset.
- Hot shower/ cold water: If you’re suffering from eye strain, if you’ve been crying, or if you feel really tense…I swear by the combination of taking a soothing hot shower and drinking an extra litre of cold water.
- Get away from the world of human adults. If you can spend time around animals or children, I always find it helps to put things in perspective. If that’s not your thing, try to step away from adulting by using your imagination and embracing unstructured time. You could paint, dance, decorate cupcakes – just have some fun!
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