May is Mental Health Awareness month, and given all the garbage in the news this week it seems like a great time to hit pause and focus on what is important, taking care of ourselves. In this most recent foray back into freelancing I have definitely learned the supreme value in having a support net for those rocky days, and holy guacamole Batman, some days are rough terrain!
To each person your support group will look a little different, maybe a partner, a group of pals, other colleagues or family members, having someone around to check in when we are stuck, but for the times that we are on our own it’s just as important for us to have our own backs. I mean it’s pretty hard to scale our mountains of goals if we are too stressed to even put on our boots, so here are my top tips for self care.
MY TOP TIPS FOR SELF CARE
Like in literally in any way. Sometimes this means exercise- personally I know I need to hit a certain amount of days at the gym or I really start feeling unable to cope with stress, and sometimes it means just getting up out of your chair and walking around. When you are stuck in the scroll or frustrated at the pace of a project try just getting up and stretching you arms over your head and loosening up your back and shoulders.
When you are feeling stressed do you notice you hold your breath? I bet you don’t even notice but you do. When I am trying to rush through a to do list, or feeling the brunt of a bad day I tend to overdo it massively on the coffee and hold in tension. When you notice it take a 3 big breathes. Inhale for 3 counts, hold your breath at the top for one, and then exhale slowly for 3. I find repeating this even just three times helps a LOT. It’s an easy fix sometimes that can help you relax enough to troubleshoot what the problem really is and what to do about it. Maybe it’s dumb but sometimes this little gif actually helps me.
Are you getting emails 24/7? Texts from people while you are eating dinner? Not sleeping because you stayed up late working on a project that could have waited until the morning? Well, me too and it sucks. I love being there for my clients and am thrilled to be flexible with scheduling or projects but sometimes we need to know how to say no, or “I’ll get to that soon”.
Most people don’t totally understand the scope of what a freelance artist or business owner does or how time consuming it is, so it’s ok to gently educate folks. Maybe try setting office hours and then actually stick to them. It’s totally ok to tell someone you will get back to them in the morning or on Monday if you don’t work weekends. If you have an event that you don’t want to be bothered at, feel free to let people know you won’t be available, or just don’t answer your phone! Always be kind and professional but let people know what the best way to work with you is and your working relationship will be that much smoother.
Yeah ok for real. We all know we are supposed to sleep. Some of us are better at it than others but a real night’s rest actually does a lot for mental acuity. There are all sorts of tricks for getting your body to chill and wind down. Some tips I hear tossed around are limiting screen time, not eating right before bed, limiting sugar close to sleeps but being real, all too often I don’t really do any of those things and end up sitting there, staring at the ceiling retracing all my mistakes from the last 20 years all night instead of sleeping. That’s pretty dumb so don’t do that. Some things that HAVE worked for me have been setting routine times to hit the z’s when my schedule allows it, drinking water instead of stuff like soda or tea, and when I need it some over the counter melatonin. Do what works for you, but try to take notice when you end up working late and waking up early on repeat.
YOUR PERSONAL RELAXATION/TIME OUT NIGHT
When you need to hit TIME OUT, do it. Only you are really going to know when enough is enough. Some days you can tackle the whole world with a backpack full of bricks strapped on and other days even getting out of bed is the biggest effort. I get it. I am all for pushing ourselves to be the best we can be but sometimes you need some time to regroup. Try thinking of things that make you relaxed and comfortable. Maybe you want to go sit on the beach, maybe you want to sit in a bath, maybe you don’t want to be around any bodies of water at all. For me it’s reading a book on the couch, getting take out from my fav spot, or doing a silly face mask.
TLDR: DO YOU
Whatever self care looks like to you, I hope that you take the time to listen to yourself and regularly check in. We don’t have to wait until things get catastrophic to take change! Your health and wellbeing are integral to your success and wow I want you to succeed!
What do you do to practice self care?
I hope you have a great mental health awareness month!