Happy Almost Friday, my dears.
Aside from attending one class, I set aside most of today for self-care and my menagerie. Grad school can be overwhelming [read: is absolutely overwhelming] and remembering “me” time is super important. I have a hard time with this concept, not going to lie. I usually just feel guilty when I take time for myself, and then I don’t enjoy it. I’m so busy worrying about all of the assignments/adult things I should be doing that I totally miss the point of “me” time. My therapist and I are working on that, and I think I’m getting better. Most of the time, anyway. When I have big projects, I still stress about taking time for myself. However, during my adventures with the evil OCD squid and anxiety, I’ve discovered a few tricks to help me focus on self-care instead of feeling so guilty. Since I know so many people who struggle with the same guilt/anxiety spiral I do when they’re trying to relax, I thought I would share a few of my methods.
First, I pick immersive activities. Some people I know can just “turn off” the student/adult parts of their brain and relax, scroll facebook, etc, but I do NOT have that happy ability. When I’m taking time for me, I have to be actively doing something that requires my attention. If I’m feeling introverted, I play World of Warcraft. Yep. I’m one of those people. I love WoW, and it requires attention to play the game well. I can make characters, level in tons of different parts of the in-game world, and something new is always popping up. Blizzard (the company who makes WoW) is good at that. I like other games too, like Alice Madness, Little Big Planet, and Flower, but I’m not as good at those. Which is fine. The idea is to get involved in something and have fun, not to be perfect.
Along the same lines, I also read and watch Netflix. Those two don’t always work as well as gaming, though. It really depends on how invested I am in what I’m watching and/or reading. If I am super caught up in a story, it works. If it’s just so-so, I’m better off doing something else. Depends on the day.
I also leave my apartment. Playing games and watching Netflix gets old after a while, so a change of scenery is also a good choice. This is especially helpful when I am feeling especially guilty or anxious. Getting myself away from my textbooks and laptops lets me breathe a little easier because I can’t just reach over and start working again. Sometimes I go to the local used bookstore or Barnes and Noble (I mean, coffee, tea, and books . . .yes), or to other random stores with a lot of pretty things to browse through. One of my favorites is At Home, because it’s huge and there is always so much stuff! Antique and thrift shops are fun too. Sometimes I do this by myself, and sometimes I take a friend with me. Depends on the mood I’m in. I also take myself out to lunch or dinner. Again, sometimes alone and sometimes with a friend. I used to be afraid to eat out by myself, but I’m so glad I got over that. Reading a book or people watching without having to keep up with conversation is actually really nice. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Might hate it, but you also might like it.
Spending time with the animals is also a good option. My reptiles and axolotl require pretty in-depth care, which requires me to chisel out time to maintain their habitats and such. My hamster needs a clean cage too. If I’m feeling super guilty about not doing school work, I clean creature houses and rearrange decorations. It makes me feel like I’m being productive (and I am), which takes the edge off the anxiety about not doing work. Besides, animal houses do have to be taken care of to keep the babies inside happy and healthy. Cicero is also always up for adventure. We go to one of the parks when the weather is nice, or to stores that welcome animals if it isn’t. He’s a big fan of riding in the car, and a good choice when I want company but don’t actually want to interact with other people. The cats are good company too, but their preferred activity is draping themselves over my bed and napping. Or demanding treats. Much love for my feline friends.
4. Setting specific time aside also helps me. If I plan “Kelsey” time into my day along with my other work, I’m more likely to do it. (If only for the satisfaction of crossing it off my list.) And if I give myself me time, that means I’m more likely not to procrastinate later. Even if it isn’t much, I try to take at least three scheduled breaks from work/adulting every day, and I try to break up the adult-ing with other little things too. For instance, I might write part of a paper and then go check the mail . . . and get hot chocolate from the office on the way back. Or I might run errands and then come home and make cute postcards to send the family that I don’t see often. I might take extra time with my makeup, or give myself 10 minutes to write for pleasure instead of school. Little things that make it a tad easier to get everything else done.
These aren’t all of my methods for self-care, but they are the ones I use most often. For me, it’s all about outsmarting the anxiety that says I’ll fall behind in my assignments if I take a break. That is not a rational anxiety, and the opposite is true. If I don’t take breaks, that’s when the trouble starts. You have to be kind to yourself. I’ve tried it the other way around, and it did not work out well. I ended up getting completely overwhelmed, dropping out of school, and spending a lot of time in needless panic attacks and anxiety spirals. Not fun. Not necessary. Self-care doesn’t get rid of anxiety entirely, of course, but it does help to manage it. As do therapy and medication. For me, managing the anxiety and OCD is a lifestyle. I had to change how I did life in order to deal, and it was a very positive change. What about you guys? What do you do to cope with adult-ing? Let me know! I’m always up for trying new things.
In other news, I’ve also picked up Matched by Ally Condie. It’s technically for class because of a project I’m doing, but it looks like it’s going to be fun to read. I’ll let you know what I think after I get a little further in. For this moment, I love the cover. So pretty! I’m heading to the giant used book shop with my mom (she’s here for a visit) tomorrow, so I’ll let you know what sorts of fun things I pick up. Will also be adding a page soon to introduce my animals. 🙂
Have a lovely Friday!!
“Stop what you are doing.
Go outside and breathe.
The world will not end if you take ten minutes for yourself.”
― Fawn Germer