self love

On Self Care…

I know, right? It’s been a while since my last post. Well, put simply, I needed a break.  Blogging felt like more of a chore than a hobby. Graduation was coming soon. I didn’t have a full-time job. I had lost motivation to finish school and didn’t care much for what was gonna happen next for me. I didn’t know if I would actually make it to graduation. But here I am, back and better. This struggle actually helped inspire me to write on the topic.

Self-care. Bruh, like I said earlier, 2016 was a rough time. Whether you were a “triggered snowflake” *eyeroll* or a “hardcore Confederate “, this past election season took a toll on all of us. We lost Prince, Muhammad Ali, and so many other notable figures. We’ve had to cancel some “friends” from our lives. We lost Vine, one of the best things to happen to the internet. Everything was a meme. It was just bad overall. To make matters worse, we now have Cheeto Voldemort running our country and have to deal with what that entails, i.e, travel bans on Muslims, a homophobic VP, and the denial of systemic oppression.

Regardless of how strong we make think we are, everyone does, in fact, have a breaking point.  We can’t pour out into others without refilling our own cups. I’ve come to terms and accepted this. Certain things like mental health are still largely neglected taboo topic in 2017. So, I have some tips to offer on self-care that work for me. Nothing is fool-proof though. Some people may differ drastically. Hopefully, they’ll work for you. I’m no counselor, or anything like that, though, so bear with me.

Here we go…

Find a hobby that you enjoy. For me, that is photography, music, and writing. I find myself singing so much around the house or at work that I don’t even notice. Off-key and all. It’s always been sort of cathartic for me, music in general. I can listen to certain songs that make me confidently spit verses or lyrics that make you Kim Kardashian ugly-face cry. I’ve been discovering so many new artists that I’ve never heard before and I’m just hoping that I don’t run out of room on my iTunes.

Surround yourself in love. Recently, I’ve been making it more of an effort to to be around those people and places that put me in a great mindset. One of my friends recommended an open mic on Tuesday nights called Breedlove, that I try now to regularly attend. In doing so, I’ve rekindled my love for spoken word, been able to network and meet some dope open-minded creatives who don’t think twice about wearing their hearts on their sleeves, and have been inspired to be present in every situation and feeling that I encounter. I’m also challenged to be less judgmental and more supportive of my loved ones. I take pride in going to events and things that my friends enjoy or may be a apart of.

However, don’t be afraid to take a break from people. If your a “passable introvert” like me, than social events and outings where you are not fully comfortable can be taxing  on you. It’s fine if you take the night off to recharge your social battery. You have nothing to feel sorry about. Sometimes a night spent binge watching Mr. Robot can be more fulfilling than going out with friends. You should be comfortable enough to spend time with yourself every now and then. However, don’t get too comfortable in isolation. Nothing good comes from extended periods of being withdrawn.

Make sure you are effectively communicating to others how you feel. No one can read your mind. If you are having an issue with someone, let them know. Being passive aggressive never leads to conflict resolution.This is one thing I struggle with the most, holding everything in and blowing up over that one small thing that pushed you over the edge. I’ve been called rude for being more vocal about certain things, but I’ll take that over being walked over like a doormat any day.

You may need to remove certain people from your life. Sometimes, things happen and people grow a part. The love might still be there, but keeping people in your life who don’t reciprocate your love and compassion may be toxic to your growth.

It’s also perfectly fine to ask for help. I am a very prideful and independent person. However, I do realize that I do sometimes need help. Let people help you. If you’re like me and it makes you feel good to help others, then why deprive others of that positive feeling by repeatedly turning down their offers of help .

Learn to say no. I would work pretty much 6-7 days a week. I thought I shouldn’t complain since I’m getting compensated, but I was miserable. I finally had to tell my manager, “No, I can’t come in. It’s my day off” “No, I can’t give you a ride.” “No, I can’t babysit your child.” It may, at first, come off as selfish, but you have every right to say no. There is nothing wrong with being nice, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to do something simply out of habit. If you wouldn’t do it willingly out of the kindness of your heart without persuasion, then you probably shouldn’t do it because you feel obligated. As much as my “foreign parent” dad wanted the best for me after graduation, I had to finally tell him “No, I will not be going straight through to grad school.” Looking back, I’m glad I was able to opt out of something I would have dreaded. Law school is in my future. Just…not right now.

Finding a routine and sicking to it can also be important. Some people may enjoy the spontaneity of never having a schedule. Other people, like myself,  need at least some form of a schedule to stay balanced an on-track. I try to stay as fake busy as I can so that boredom and depression don’t linger. For some people, this can mean meal-planning every week. For others, this can mean meeting up for margaritas every Taco Tuesday at your local Chili’s. Finds what works for you.

Manage your social media wisely. You should not be rushing to your phone every time the screen lights up. Notifications are cool and the rush of dopamine you receive can seem gratifying for the moment, but it ultimately, turns out negative. It’s perfectly fine to post selfies when you are feeling yourself. Lord knows I damn sure do! But when you are only posting pictures of yourself for an instant self-esteem boost, just like coffee, you’ll eventually crash. That is, something as simple as not getting as many likes as you hoped can be detrimental to your confidence. Don’t be so quick to place something as fragile as your self-image in the clumsy hands of others who may have dropped it once before. This my be super cliche but I love seeing and posting inspiring,/thought-provoking picture quotes that may apply to your current situation or that you feel may benefit others. One of the best feelings is a friend commenting, “Thanks. I needed to read this now” under one of  them. One of my favorite things now are podcasts. I listen to 2 in particularly every week, The Read and The Friend Zone. While the Read offers an irreverent take on this week’s happenings in pop culture, The Friend Zone focuses largely on “mental hygiene” because “Who in the hell wants a musty brain?”. Things like listening to these podcasts and binge-watching performances on YouTube help to serve as my breather from everyday life.

Last, but not least, keeping up with your physical is so important. I’ve been partially slacking in this area. Since starting college, I haven’t been as dedicated to staying in shape as I was in high school when there was 3+ hour wrestling practices every day after school. It goes back to the whole routine thing. I didn’t have any workout schedule to motivate me, so I rarely exercised. However, in other areas of hygiene and physical health, I probably wouldn’t say I’ve been slacking. I love my hair and recently decided to let it grow as wild and as natural as I see fit. Coconut oil will change your life. I make sure to stay moisturized. Fragrance has always been big to me. Get all of your favorite body washes colognes, oils(currently in love with this one), hair products galore. Expressing yourself through how you dress is so dope to me. I love re-purposing clothes and finding great deals, so I’ve started to thrift more. If I’m going out or to a special event, I’ll put in extra effort to be presentable by my own standards for my damn self. Look good; feel good. Go try yoga and meditation. It will change you life. Cooking for yourself and others, trying to make old family recipes, or even experiencing foods you’ve always been curious to try can be rewarding. Indulge in your favorite midnight snack every now and then. Have wonderful sex whenever you can and make sure you and your partner a both pleased. Great way to burn calories ;]

Again, I’m no guru or life coach. These are just some things that I do to practice self-care and some things I definitely need to improve upon.  I just want you to blossom into the Beyonce I know you can be. Thanks for reading.

Peace. Love. Lauryn Hill.

Author: Kobi Elliot

Kobi. 25. College grad. Philly native. Ghanian-American. Creative

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