October 17th 2017
“Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” -Psych Central
I often see this common misconception that self-care is something that you have to do alone. Many people believe that taking time for self-care requires one to isolate themselves and spend time solely working on themselves with no help or intervention. I have found through my personal exploration of different forms of self-care, that friendship is one of my favorite.
In the past, when my anxiety would hit a high and I would take time for self-care, I would spend all my time in bed, wearing the same pajamas and refusing to brush my hair. I would spend the time writing, reading, watching YouTube videos and all around relaxing. And although I still find this form of self-care to be beneficial at times, I actually realized that, often times, it worked slower than if I found better ways to distract myself from my mental discomfort.
Recently, I had hit a point of high anxiety and emotional distress that would usually set me off into a fit of “leave me alone, I am self-caring.” But this time I decided to handle things differently, and instead of crying over spilled milk (and screwed up hormones), I tried something new. I decided to pick up the phone and reach out to my friends.
Here are some tips for incorporating friends into your self-care routine:
- Surround yourself with low drama friends- This sounds pretty obvious, but it is actually such an important tip. There are days where some of your friends may be feeling ranty or combative or stressed or annoyed and that energy will rub off on you as you try to self-care. Be aware of what energy the people you surround yourself put out, because that is what you will take in.
- Get out and do something- It is okay to have lazy days with friends, but when you’re trying to take time for self-care with friends, I have found it is better to get out, even for an hour than spending the whole day laying in one spot like you would do at home.
- If you want to stay in, still do something- So maybe you’re not in a mental place to make public appearances. That’s totally fine! You can do just as much staying home as you do when you’re out. Instead of sitting on your phones all day, not communicating, try to find a better way to take care of your well-being. For example, you could paint, play board games, binge a new show together, cook, bake, listen to music, or even practice yoga. There are tons of ways you can incorporate your friend into a self-care routine.
- You don’t have to talk about it- The choice is completely yours if you want to inform your friends of your mental state or that you are using your time together for self-care. If you want to talk and open up, go for it! But don’t feel obligated to share that information if you feel it will be better for you if you don’t.
Here is my personal perfect formula to a great self-care day. First, I try to put my money stresses aside for the day. When I am taking time to take care of my own well-being, I allow myself to spend a little more money than I would on a regular day. Second, I help suggest activities that I feel would be within my comfort zone for the day. Luckily for me, on the day all of these photos are from, my friends had already planned to go pumpkin picking which was on my Fall Bucket List. After we went pumpkin picking, we grabbed some lunch and went thrifting at one of my favorite thrift stores. Retail therapy is one of my favorite things to do when I am practicing self-care because I find that when I look good, I feel good!
Third, I like to eat on self-care days. I find when I am particularly anxious, I push eating to the side and neglect myself. I find that being with friends encourages me to eat more (and also, my friend Kristin, who took all of these beautiful photos, is also an incredible cook and baker so that helped me eat too). Lastly, smile. Spend time with your friends and smile as you do so, it is healthy and even if you start out not feeling very smiley, smile more. In psychology, I learned this theory called Facial Feedback Theory where smiling even when we are not happy can actually help alter and improve our mood.
Overall, I find that incorporating friends into times of self care is healthy and a good way to pull yourself out of a slump.
And remember, it is okay to want to be alone. I still take time to practice solo self-care quite often. Just because I am suggesting that you incorporate friends into your self care routine, doesn’t mean that is the only right way! It is just a different way you can consider for the future~