Winter has come. ‘Tis the season for seasonal depression and the stress of holidays and final exams. Self-care can sometimes get put in the back of our minds, but let me tell you, nothing is worth more than your physical and mental wellness, I promise. I speak from experience. I cannot stress enough how important it is to try to take care of yourself during stressful times. Sometimes it’s hard to realize when you’re lacking in the self-care department, so here are some ways that show me that I need to step up my self-care game.
1. You aren’t getting enough sleep.
This is obvious. Sometimes, you get to the point of being stressed out where you have slight bouts of insomnia and that’s when you know there’s problem, and trust me, this has happened to me so many times now, it’s ridiculous. What I’ve been making a habit of doing is actually ending my day an hour earlier if possible. I don’t have to fall asleep right away, but I’ll get in bed at 11 P.M. instead of at midnight. I’ll start my nighttime facial cleansing routine earlier to let my body know that it’s time for bed. Any work that I haven’t completed by then can wait until the next day.
2. You don’t drink enough water.
Drinking a proper amount of water honestly is the easiest thing to do, and it’s the best thing. I carry a refillable water bottle in my bag every day, and I make sure it has labels of how much water I’ve drunk that day so I know if I’m behind on my water consumption. Drinking the right amount of water each day can honestly make up for the damage lack of sleep does to your skin, and what forgetting to eat balanced meals can do to your body (use this to supplement, but not to replace!!).
3. You forget to eat proper meals.
Ugh. Getting three meals and two snacks in every day is a struggle with a capital S. I am the queen of forgetting to eat but guys, that’s not good. Not eating ruins your focus and makes you tired and feel physically weak, and you don’t need that when you’re trying to conquer the world. Meal prep, plan out snacks or make smoothies ahead of time to grab on your way out the door. Anything helps!!
4. You aren’t getting enough fruits and veggies into your diet.
This was a problem I faced a lot when I was constantly at work and school, and it was actually affecting me more than I realized. Not getting enough produce in your diet really messes up your vitamin levels and blood sugar. My lack of nutrients on top of immense stress was literally causing me to lose hair, and it was the worst. I’ve started keeping bags of frozen fruits and veggies in my freezer, and it allows me to easily eat them with every meal. I’m obsessed.
5. You’re constantly surrounded by darkness.
If your mood suffers when Daylight Savings occurs, being in dark rooms just makes everything way worse. Turn on the lights, open the curtains, buy a light therapy box, and get outside as much as possible. Even the slightest bit of sunlight every day helps your mood and stress levels, I promise.
6. You are surrounded by toxic people and negative energy.
I used to be the worst about letting toxic people stay in my life and it was so bad for me, my energy, and my health. Making the decision to remove negative people and energy from my life was literally the best decision. I haven’t felt this emotionally light and been surrounded by such good vibes in so long. Surround yourself with people who love you and who radiate positivity. It’ll do wonders for your mood and health.
7. Everything around you is cluttered and messy.
You can’t expect to have a clear mind if your space is messy and full of stuff. It’s a huge sign, for me, that I haven’t been taking proper care of myself when my room gets really messy. You don’t have to deep clean your entire house in the middle of finals season, but making sure your desk space or kitchen or room is cleared of any visible garbage or clutter really really makes a difference in how you think and focus.
8. You aren’t getting enough exercise.
I don’t mean, hardcore, weight-loss-as-your-goal type of exercise. I mean literal body movement. If you’re sitting at a desk working all day, every day, it becomes really straining on your body and your mind. Take the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Go for a little walk once a day to get your blood flowing. Join a gym to motivate you to get moving (crazy, I know). Working out is honestly the best form of therapy for me- it helps me think clearly, and it gives me an excuse to take a break from working.
9. You don’t take any breaks.
This is so important. Working for eight hours straight seems like a productive idea, but your mind and body will just be drained without frequent breaks. Taking care of yourself can be as simple as taking a 30-minute break every few hours to eat, stretch, drink water, scroll through Instagram, clear your desk, book a flight somewhere, you get it.
10. Without realizing it, you’ve been isolating yourself from people.
This, for me, is a big red flag. When I find myself not talking to people and constantly keeping to myself, I know that something’s going on. As introverted as I tend to be, socializing is really good for my mental state, and avoiding it to do work all day long is really dangerous.
11. Your mood has made a shift in the last few weeks.
Constant stress and a heavy workload can lead to a shift in mood, especially if you suffer from Seasonal Depression. This is also a red flag for me to know that I’m not prioritizing myself. If I find myself constantly anxious and depressed, I know that it’s time to take a step back and re-prioritize myself. Your health is more important than the amount of work that you need to complete in a day, I promise. There’s always another day to finish up whatever you need to.
12. Your skin isn’t glowing as much as it used to.
You know you’re lacking in the self-care department when your skin starts to look dull and bumpy. This is what I try to avoid, being someone who grew up with really bad acne (been there, done that. Don’t wanna look back, ever). I used to neglect my skincare routine, but it only made me feel worse because neglecting my skin led to me having less than stellar skin, which led me to feel way less confident in myself, and nobody wants that.
13. You’re exhausted. All the time.
Whenever I hit a stressful period of time, I find myself unable to rest, ever. I’m constantly on edge and I can never sleep at night or even chill when I’m taking a break from doing work. This is how I know that I have to reset my routine and get back into one that prioritizes me and my health more.