In order to stay centred, we’re told to find a ‘balance’ between our different commitments and obligations, and as a student, I find this particularly difficult, as a work routine is not present due to the style of course that I am undertaking. Thus, I find myself disregarding certain areas of my life, for example – neglecting my own health and well-being, which is a common theme in my life. In our society, there’s an unspoken conception amongst many that self-care is a form of indulgence, that selfishness and self-centredness come from putting ourselves first.
However, there’s a huge difference between self-care and vanity. When I neglect my own mental health, or I’m working myself into the ground, consequently impacting on my physical health, I feel like I’m trying to drive the car from the passenger seat; because I’m not metaphorically putting myself in the driver’s seat.
But although I know the theoretical implications that come about when neglecting your own interpersonal needs, I still find myself doing so in order to relieve educational strain. My anxiety is linked in with the fear of failure, which to me – is not meeting my admittedly ridiculous expectations of myself. This is not a fear that I project upon other people, as I’ve created such unrealistic goals due to my own insecurities and self-esteem, thus when I look at others and their achievements, I look at it from a neutral non-judgemental perspective.
However, I must admit that when I think about the things that I need to do, I look at it at is a whole, which magnifies that amount of responsibilities that I have in my mind, immediately drowning me in a state of panic. So how do I overcome this? How do I create a sense of structure in my day? And when I’m completing these tasks, how do I do so without feeling pushed?
This may seem obvious to some, myself included, but it’s following the plan that I struggle with most, why? Because every time I overestimate how long it will take me to complete. And when I don’t complete my ‘to do’s’ for the day, I feel like I’ve failed, even if I’ve achieved everything other than one thing.
So recently, I bought a desk planner from a company on notonthehighstreet, a site which independent businesses sell their often handmade products. The planner was created by my favourite company Bread & Jam
The thing that drew me to this product was the fact it separates the ‘must do’s’ from the ‘mission possibles’, in other words, I can see what I need to do, and what I can do if I’m in the position to, and I can primarily focus on the main task at hand, rather than looking at the big picture and wanting to cry in the corner of a room!
When planning I try and look at the deadline for that particular piece of work, and what I need to do in the meantime. For example, if I have an assignment given on a Friday, I think ‘when’s it due?’, ‘how long will it take to complete?’ and ‘when will I need to get it finished by when taking into account other deadlines?’
Whenever I achieve something, big or small, I reward myself with treats, not necessarily food, but things like a face mask or painting my nails.
Inform others of my self-care needs
When I’m particularly tired due to my chronic fatigue, I’m feeling overwhelmed with depression or I’m mentally exhausted after a long day, I’m less likely to meet my self-care needs, which is ironic considering I need to have good self-care to improve these factors, and after a hard day, this is when I need to be focusing on my self-care even more! It isn’t a burden, it is a necessity, and we all know after we’ve had a nice bubble bath or read a book we enjoy that we feel better afterwards (unless you’re like me and run the bath so god damn hot sometimes that you nearly pass out trying to get out!)
Personally, for me, I feel motivated to do something when I’m feeling tired or overwhelmed, be that physically or mentally, when someone encourages me to look after myself because sometimes it’s what I need to attend to those areas that would otherwise lack. However, I encourage others to inform someone who isn’t going to be pushy, question why you’re attending to these needs rather than other commitments (even though they are of the same importance…)
Now I think I’m off to have a nice bath, what are you going to do for you today?
Love, Lori x