You Need to Learn to Take Care of You
It’s time for you to take care of you. Yes, I’m talking to you, the one who takes care of everyone else. I’m talking to the person who stays up until 4 a.m. consoling a heartbroken friend. I’m talking to the person who puts off doing their own work to help someone else with a project. I’m talking to the person who can’t say no to a fellow human in need and I’m talking to the person who sees every moment as an opportunity for kindness.
Well I applaud you. There’s an unattributed mantra that says: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” The world needs more people like you…more people to be selfless and eager to help and willing to step up when someone is hurting. Kindness is the spark that gives our day to day existence a start. Because this week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, I spent last week’s blog writing about why these acts of love matter.
Today, however, I’m going to hone in on one specific act of kindness that my aforementioned givers often forget to take note of: themselves. It’s really hard to focus on yourself…especially if you are so used to giving freely to those around you. Ultimately, though, that does nothing but leave you burned out and unable to take care of yourself let alone those you love. To combat all that, I’m going to give you some of my favorite tips for showing a little self-love this week, and every week.
The first thing I do when I get out of bed is turn off the blaring alarm. Then I stumble to the bathroom and spend the rest of my teeth brushing time staring at my bed head in the mirror. Now usually I’m not thinking about anything but batting the sleep out of my eyes. But what if instead, we focused on ourselves. It seems silly to start the morning in what may seem to be a vain way, but stay with me. I wrote a post a little over a year ago about how it’s important to compliment your mirror.
So what if you did? What if you woke up, splashed some water on your face and told yourself you were beautiful. Even with your over-sized t-shirt hanging off one shoulder and the toothpaste dribble foaming at your lips. What if you woke up and looked in the mirror and thought of one thing you were really good at? What if you did that every day?
This next tip is my main source of inspiration for this post. I am currently interning at DoSomething.org where I work with so many amazing and inspirational people, three of whom co-founded an organization that has completely transformed my morning routine.
Naomi Hirabayashi, Marah Lidey, and Chloe Lee are the masterminds behind Shine, a product consisting of daily texts and customized responses to help women—and all working professionals—slay the day with confidence tips, work hacks, and humor.
I asked Naomi to tell me a little bit more about the cause and I learned some pretty hefty facts along the way. 50% of women report that they experience feelings of self-doubt about their performance and careers. The result of this low confidence is inaction: we hold ourselves back from asking for promotions, raises, and recognition at work.
I’ve been signed up to receive my Shine Texts for barely over a week now and I can already see the impact it has had on my confidence. It truly is an amazing way to start my morning. Not only am I given an inspirational quote or a funny gif to start my day with a smile, but I also enjoy reading the articles and scientific research that is attached to my daily boost.
If you take anything from this post, it would be to text “SHINE” to 30644 right now. I promise this will be the catalyst for major changes in your life. Seriously, visit www.shinetext.com for more info.
The Daily Grind
Two years ago, when I started to get really sick, my mom was at her last resort of trying to think of anything I could do to manage the pain. Knowing my typical “can’t stop/ won’t stop” pace, she pleaded for me to try something like meditating or simply closing my eyes and relaxing for a half hour every day. Please note: this is a wonderful tip and very good, in theory. However, I took my own spin on it.
I downloaded a free phone application called DuoLingo and instead would spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour each morning teaching myself Italian. This is not ideal for everyone. I have a friend who simply cannot learn languages. No matter how hard he tries, learning a new language has always been frustrating and difficult—not the ideal way to start the day in his case. On the other hand, language fascinates me and the challenge was a welcome way to get my brain ready to think. It’s been one year, one month, and seventeen days and I still spend my mornings with my Italian lessons.
Whether your thing is meditation, reading a daily devotional, or writing about your dreams, find something simple and easy that not only betters yourself as a person, but also can become something you look forward to each day.
On your Appearance
Learn to love your body. You live in it. You’re stuck with it. You might as well love the hell out of it. I distinctly remember having the biggest body image Eureka moment ever in sixth grade when I was talking with a friend on the school bus. She has straight, thin, blonde hair. I have wavy, thick, black hair. She was talking about how she wished her hair would hold curls. I told her I wished my hair didn’t have an awkward wave to it. We talked for a bit longer and then it hit me: we always want what we don’t have.
A younger version of myself may have thought having naturally straight hair would solve all my hair insecurities. But should I have had naturally straight hair, I probably would have just wanted hair that could hold curls.
Instead of pining for someone else’s metabolism or complexion, think about how beautiful your own skin looks when you splash water on it in the morning. Instead of looking at beauty magazines for inspiration, look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself of how there is no set definition for gorgeous. You are somebody’s flawless.
I see the most beauty in confidence. Know you are beautiful. Act like you are beautiful. But most importantly, be your own beautiful.
On Being Healthy
This isn’t coming after appearance to look like an advertisement for dieting—quite the opposite. Really, this post is just about feeling good.
I love baked goods. They’re my weakness. I could eat blueberry cake donuts from Dunkin Donuts every day for the rest of my life and probably be okay. However after the second week or so, I wouldn’t feel quite as great anymore.
See that’s the problem, because as much as I like pastries, sometimes I crave iceberg lettuce. Adjusting to living on my own (without a mandatory meal plan for a college cafeteria) is strange. I know some people talk about all the freedom and independence to do whatever they want and not have anyone question them. For me, that independence came in eating way too many donuts and promptly realizing that it was not the best choice.
After that, I began spending my mornings running through Central Park and my afternoons eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (because they’re cheap and somewhat nutritional). I downloaded some free applications to keep me on track with working out and eating right. In no way, shape, or form am I encouraging strict dieting or extreme calorie counting or unhealthy weight loss techniques. I simply had to find something to get myself on track.
Since then, I have been more conscious of what I put in my stomach. I have more energy, I’m more conscious of my grocery store budget, and I simply feel better. Finding a routine that works for your lifestyle is a huge thing for taking care of yourself. Even if you only have fifteen minutes to take a walk around your neighborhood at the end of the night, that time to simply be outside and be active can have a huge boost on your mental and physical health.
Let Yourself Sleep
I realize that most so far everything I have talked about has been a part of my morning routine. Yes, I’m an early bird. But you don’t have to be. Some of the most successful people I know stay up until 4 a.m. each night and wake up around noon. Find something that works for you, but don’t sacrifice your sleep. You need to take care of yourself and that starts with making sure your body can physically handle the demands of the day. Whether you’re a night owl, an early bird, or a little of both, find something that works for you.
This is The Smile Project’s blog, after all. Hear me out on this though. Maybe it’s the years of academic research on Happiness coming into play here, but I think I can be considered an expert on joy and I promise you that simply smiling can redirect your entire train of thought. Even when it’s really, really difficult to think of a reason to be happy, I urge you to smile.
Listen to me: you deserve to smile.
Whatever part of you has felt extinguished lately…whatever part of you has felt overwhelmed and exhausted beyond compare…whatever part of you feels like you can’t get back on track…whatever part of you doesn’t know how to step back from responsibilities…whatever part of you wants to give up…
And listen to me.
You deserve to smile.
You deserve to step back from the chaos and the madness and focus on you. You deserve to indulge in a bubble bath or splurge on the on-sale leftover Valentine’s Day candy. You deserve to try that thing you’ve always wanted to learn how to do. You deserve to look in the mirror and know that you are beautiful. You deserve to understand how much more there is to you than your outward appearance. You deserve to have the time to be the best version of yourself. You deserve happiness.
You’ve spent a lot of time in the last however many years of your life taking care of other people. You need to spend some time taking care of yourself.
Focus on (insert your name here) today. S/he deserves some kindness.