When I moved to my new apartment in North Carolina, I had the goal of creating a relaxing, re-energizing space just for me.Read More
2018 was all about self-care for me.
During my quest to treat myself a bit more than I had been, I purchased several self-care products and services and had other ones gifted to me. Here’s a round-up of my ten favorites (plus a few honorable mentions) that I’ll continue to use in 2019 and beyond. Consider gifting these to yourself or a friend this holiday season.
As my 25th birthday approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about my where and who I was in my younger years. It’s pretty wild to consider how much I’ve grown and changed since I was five, ten, sixteen, or twenty-one.
Anxiety pushes many of us to keep our guard up at all times. It makes trusting others and ourselves difficult. It convinces us to believe and listen to our fears instead of confronting them.
Without any sort of treatment, anxiety can make you feel like a prisoner to your own thoughts.
I’ve been there. My anxiety reached an all-time high during my college years and was the absolute worst during my senior year in 2015. Everyone thought I was thriving because I was losing weight, meanwhile I couldn’t go one day without panicking about class, friendships, my identity, my body, or whatever else made my heart race. It was a painful existence.
Shortly after graduation, my circle convinced me to find my first therapist. Once I began to trust my therapist, I began to talk about my true thoughts, fears, and feelings to her. This is when I learned that one of the most effective ways to confront anxiety is by opening up about it. I began to be more vulnerable with my close friends and family as a result. My life drastically improved thanks to the lessons I gained in therapy.
Flash forward to mid-March 2018 when my relationship with my ex-fiancee ended and my wedding was cancelled. Engagement life had been pretty good, so the trauma of this event blindsided me and hit hard. I had never experienced this kind of heartbreak before.
I was particularly devastated when my ex posted a too-casual status on Facebook about the ordeal, announcing our break-up publicly without my consent. Many of my friends and family members found out by reading the status, and some of them reached out to me with screenshots attached. It was extremely upsetting. My power was taken away from me and it felt like there wasn’t much I could do.
Having to do the post-break-up social media clean-up (untagging photos, new profile pictures, relationship status adjustment) was expected, but I had no intention of writing anything about it on a public forum. I desperately wanted my pain to be private, but my ex made that impossible once the status was posted.
Anxiety quickly overtook my sadness: What would people think of me based on that status? What did this failed engagement say about me? The sense of control I had thought I had achieved in my life was gone and anxiety took its’ place.
After wracking my brain for a while and talking about it with my closest friends, I decided to post my own status and take my power back. My voice deserved to be in the mix, and it wouldn’t be unless I myself spoke up. I wrote with true vulnerability behind my words, and my status was honest and raw.
Once it was posted, I felt relieved to have my feelings out in the open. I wasn’t hiding. I was very-much still in the throes of heartbreak (and I honestly will be for some time) but writing candidly about it made it feel less shameful. Those who hadn’t seen the other status flooded my comments with words of support, and that helped too. I flew to Paris a few days later and tried to walk with my head held high.
Since then, I’ve strived to be more vulnerable on a regular basis as a way to cope with the anxiety this break-up reignited in me. I’ve also aimed to expand the range of my vulnerability. My first round of therapy helped me open up to close friends and some family, but that was pretty much the extent of my openness. Now I’m trying to be even more vulnerable on both a private and public level. A few recent examples:
- Talking to a stranger in Paris about the break-up a week after it happened
- Writing about seeing a therapist again to help myself feel less embarrassed about it
- Working through a panic attack with my parents present and making a plan together
- Speaking to other LGBTQ+ folks at queer events about identity and dating struggles
- Opening up about body-shaming in the past (see Instagram post below)
- Admitting fitness fears to my personal trainer and then conquering them together
- Starting and maintaining this blog
Each act of vulnerability has helped me feel less anxious in general. Speaking about what scares me helps me accept each fear a little more. This in turn gives the anxiety less power. I am better able to recognize that an anxious thought popping into my head is usually a distortion: Just because I think it doesn’t mean it is true or that I have to be dictated by it.
Unlocking the door and throwing away the key is ultimately bringing me more peace because I have no secrets to burden me. The pressure to be perfect is slowly but surely disappearing. Fear used to impact my decisions, but now love and kindness act as my primary guides.
I’m sure some people disagree with being as vulnerable as I have been as of late, but most of my circle has expressed positive feedback. I typically find that anyone listening is sympathetic rather than judgmental. The judgement I’m afraid of tends to be a product of my own imagination. We are all in our own heads all the time and are often too busy worrying about ourselves to judge others.
Many people have told me they relate to what I’m feeling, and that helps normalize my feelings and mental health issues in general. It’s essential to remember that we are all fighting our own battles regardless of if we are sharing our battles with others. Choosing to be open about these battles can and will help others.
Does the notion of opening up terrify you? Consider trying therapy first, as it is a way to receive an unbiased response.
If you want to be more vulnerable with your inner circle, start with something small, something with low stakes so you won’t be too intimidated. Maybe tell an embarrassing story to a friend or let yourself cry in front of someone you trust.
Being vulnerable about your anxiety won’t cure it, but doing so can certainly lift some weight of your shoulders. You are not alone in your thoughts and feelings, and sharing them with the world proves you are courageous and strong. I look forward to continuing to live with an open heart and spirit, and I hope doing so will help others as well.
It’s taken me a lot of time to realize I’m often nicer to strangers than myself. I’ve spent too much of my past picking myself apart: My body was never good enough, even at my lowest weight. I was deeply ashamed of my stomach and the stretch marks that came along with it. Exposing my body was a nightmare situation. When my grays started sprouting when I was 14, I would pull them out, too embarrassed to let them be. I spent ten years trying to cover them with dye. My eyes were too squinty and my pores were too big and there was always something to pick on whenever I looked in a mirror. I didn’t feel I was worthy of love because I wasn’t perfect. I am done with that self-hating mentality that is all too present in our culture. Enough is enough! Instead, I’m trying to develop a radical self-love for myself and my body. I’m skipping the judgements and accepting that people and their bodies are not good or bad, they just are. I’m doing what brings me joy and saying no to things that do not. I’m being kind to myself and this kindess radiates past my finger tips into the world. Read more about ways to practice radical self-love on my blog. Spread the love friends! We need it more than ever ❤️ . . . . . #effyourbeautystandards #selfie #selflove #radicalselflove #everybodybeautiful #kindness #love #goodvibes #grayhair #greyhair #grayhairdontcare
In the age of crippling college debt and chaotic headlines, showing yourself love is harder than ever. It feels impossible to find inner peace in a world full of pressure.
Who can pursue passion projects when the rent forces many of us to have multiple day jobs? How can we appreciate our own bodies when society continues to support the idea that some of them are not good enough?
Capitalism sets us up to always want more, and this affects our mental well-being. We are not supposed to be satisfied with what we have and who we are; we must always try to be better, richer, known. If we’re not productive as possible, we’re useless. If our latest post on Instagram doesn’t get any likes, we are failures. It’s an endless loop that is exhausting.
Screw all of that.
In fact, I think you should screw that with a nice dose of radical self-love.
Practicing self-love in a significant way can be the ultimate middle finger to the societal constructs that aim to limit us, particularly for people of color, trans folks, differently-abled people, and women.
I believe that self-love is radical in various ways. It challenges the white patriarchal standards that define our culture. It empowers us to think about ourselves and other differently. It causes us to act out of kindness instead of fear or anger.
Don’t confuse radical self-love with basic self-care. This isn’t about brushing your teeth. Radical self-love is deeper. It is performing actions that are purely for your mind and spirit. It is selfishness that helps you own and celebrate yourself. This selfishness leads to you feeling your best in a culture that wants you to struggle.
I’ve been consciously practicing radical self-love for the past few months. It all started in March with a solo trip to Paris in the midst of heartbreak. That journey was a gift to a weary soul: it made me think differently about how I deserve to be treated by myself and others. It helped me believe that I have an inner-power that can guide me through dark times.
Since then, I’ve been striving to prioritize radical self-love. It isn’t always easy, but practicing it more consistently has continued to help me heal little by little.
I strongly encourage you, unique reader with lovely personal qualities, to consider how you treat yourself. What is the tone of your inner thoughts? Do you judge yourself? If you realize you’re kinder to strangers than you are to yourself, then maybe you should give radical self-love a try.
The best part about radical-self love is that it can be practiced in various ways. Acts can range from minuscule to grandiose. Your personality and interests will dictate what types of radical acts will be impactful for you.
Get inspired by this list of forty possible acts of self-love you can try. I’ve tried to include a huge range of activities ranging from physical to mental, free to expensive. Try one that immediately to speaks to you or maybe one that you’re afraid of. Practicing any of the radical acts of self-love could change your view of yourself and the world around you:
- Start a new journal and write down at least one good thing that happened daily
- Spend some time in nature, whether that be for a walk at your local park or a longer camping trip
- Compliment yourself every time you look in the mirror
- Prepare and eat your favorite meal
- Exercise with the intention of enjoying it instead of doing it because you have to
- Curate a list of your favorite inspirational quotes and look at the list whenever you’re feeling down
- Listen to your intuition and act on it – do what feels right rather than what is expected
- Turn on some up-beat tunes and dance
- Hang out with your pet or visit a friend who has a pet you can hang out with
- Express your feelings openly
- Sing with the car windows down
- Stay in bed when your body wants to rest – push that snooze button
- Book a solo vacation and do whatever you want once you reach your destination
- Meditate a little or a lot
- Visit a nearby beach, river, pool, or lake and take a swim – feel the water hold your body
- Say no when you want to and don’t feel sorry about it
- Donate clothes or items that have negative feelings attached to them – keep anything that brings you joy
- Sit outside when it is sunny and soak up the rays (with proper sun protection of course)
- Write yourself a love letter and read it
- Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers
- Turn off your cell phone for an hour, day, week, or longer
- Write down your regrets on a piece of paper and proceed to light that paper on fire in the safest way possible (or rip it into tiny pieces to avoid the pyro aspect)
- Give yourself a pep talk when you need one – think about what you would want a coach or mentor to say to you and say it out loud
- Pamper yourself with a massage, facial, or pedicure (maybe do all three if you’re feeling fancy)
- Stretch in the morning, in the evening, and whenever you want to in between
- Enjoy a favorite childhood movie or book
- Cuddle your pet or say hi to a friendly dog on the street (with permission from the owner of course)
- Talk to a therapist often or occasionally when you’re suffering, thriving, and existing
- Leave an encouraging post-it note for a stranger to discover and let the good vibes flow
- Cry unapologetically
- Learn a new craft and make art for yourself and others
- Buy yourself a scoop of your favorite ice cream and pay for the next customer’s order as well
- Look at old photos and feel the nostalgia
- Send a thank you letter to someone who has made a positive impact on your life
- Watch a comedy special or funny video online and laugh out loud
- Cease communication with someone who makes you feel bad
- Improve your sleep with a new pillow, mattress pad, or relaxing essential oils
- Give meaningful compliments to others and accept the compliments people make about you instead of shrugging them off
- Complete a nagging task that has been on your to-do list – feel relieved when it’s done
- Live in the present and do what you want now – not tomorrow, not this summer, not next year – now
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your favorite acts of self-love in the comments – I’m always open to new suggestions to try!