#SelfcareSeptember - 6 Ways I Self-Care & Manage Stress

I will preface this post by saying this topic is very near and dear to me. I believe it is so important to break down the boundaries surrounding mental illnesses, and open the conversation to help end the stigmas that surround them.

I saw the hashtag #SelfcareSeptember circulating around social media, and I'm more than happy to see such widespread awareness towards the subject.
As someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression for a number of years (And still I continue the fight, to this day), I understand the importance of self-care.
For those who may be unaware, it is the act of caring for yourself to better your mental, physical and/or emotional health. There is no specific criteria as to what self-care has to be, but simply what works best for you (Because no one knows you as well as you know yourself!).

If you suffer from the same struggles as me, you'll know there usually isn't one quick fix that works for everyone. Everyone deals with mental illness in different ways.

I have a number of rituals I do to self-care for myself, and while they may not be for everyone, you may find one that also works for you (Or someone else you may know)
I find I can manage my illnesses better with these acts of self-care. I choose one of these 6 things to do  if I'm feeling low, or if I'm feeling more anxious than usual. Or in some cases,I use them to heal after a panic-attack or times when I'm struggling with a severe bout of depression. I always end up feeling happier and more relaxed when I care for myself,

Even if you don't struggle with mental illness, sometimes it's just nice to take time for yourself, and indulge in the little things that make life great.

1.  Enjoy some peace and quiet

More often times than not, I find I heal best when I'm left alone. I recognize the need to be social at times, but after a particularly long day I just need some peacefulness to be able to hear my own thoughts.

A night full of candles and a good book, a cozy morning in bed with my favourite cup of tea, or even a quiet evening walk in the nearby park are all ways I can tune out the noise and de-stress.

2. Get together with a friend

When you're on hard times, sometimes the comfort of being around a loved one can be a tremendous help. It's important to talk about how we're feeling with one another. By opening up the lines of communication about mental health, we gain a better understanding of how it affects us, and how we can help one another. For me, just knowing that someone else understands what I'm going through can be a great help.

The reassurance that I'm not alone can be enough to lift my spirits.
Find someone who you trust, that will give you the time to listen to your feelings. It could be a friend, a partner, a family member, or even a counsellor or doctor. Whomever you feel most comfortable with.

3. Take a bath

As I've previously discussed, I am a big fan of the bathtub. I'm still missing mine, as my current apartment just has a shower stall. But before, I would hop in the tub any time I felt overwhelmed, sad or just wanted to indulge in some bubbles.

Toss in your favourite bath bomb or bubble bar (My all-times faves are Dragon's EggBlackberry, Sex Bomb, and Brightside which is pictured above!), pour a glass of wine and pump some soothing beats. I'm a big fan of Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett's collaborative album 'Cheek to Cheek', or Amy Winehouse's classic 'Back to Black' album...Basically bath time is jazz time.

4. Have a spa day

Brazened Honey Face Mask from Lush - $8.95 CAD
Again, toting my Lush addiction here. One of my favourite acts of self-care is literally that; caring for myself! I love pampering myself by giving myself an at home spa-day. I love to take time for a mani/pedi, or a face mask. Not only does it make me feel good, I look good after too!

I find that building routines helps to ease my anxiety especially. Having some order in my life helps keep me calm. By setting aside an afternoon or evening each week for these activities, it gives me something to look forward to and get excited for!

I also highly recommend taking a picture of yourself wearing a facemask, if only just to laugh at yourself. I've dubbed it my 'swamp thing face', and on occasion pull the 'Tell me I'm pretty," line to my partner.

5. Retail therapy

It's no surprise that I'm a bit of a shopaholic. Of course it's fun to go to your favourite shop and buy something that makes you happy. But even the act of just getting out of the house and going to a public place can be good for you.
I've become that person who talks to sales associates just to get some social interaction, and I'm not ashamed (I actually talked to an employee at a jewellery store for a good 15 minutes about hair dye the other day).

Alternatively, even if you aren't in the market to buy, it can be fun to just look around and maybe even try on something you wouldn't normally buy!

6. Work out

Getting the blood pumping is a well-known way to relieve stress and release those feel-good endorphins. This is one I know I should do more often, not only because regular exercise is good for me (Duh), but it genuinely improves my mood. Days where I've feel horribly depressed, I've forced myself out the door to get to the gym and always feel thankful that I did afterwards.

I'll admit, getting the motivation to do this can be very difficult. The anxiety tends to kick in as well when I'm feeling blue, which is a ton of fun, so it makes it that much harder some days. In these cases, I either work out at home, or go with either my partner or a friend to the gym. Having that person around to give that extra push of motivation can really help. And then you can hit up the smoothie bar together after! It's a win-win.

I hope that this post helps someone out there, who might be struggling and not know how to manage. Please remember that you are not alone in this battle; You are important, worthy and loved.

I'd love to know you self-care. Please leave a comment below so we can continue this discussion!  Or share this post, and maybe help someone else in need! Thanks for reading, and always remember to love yourself!

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