Be Kind To Yourself: a note on self-care

By Ashley Nowak

Ellen Degeneres famously says, “be kind to one another” at the end of her show.  I love this message. It takes minimal effort to smile at a neighbor, hold the door for a stranger or compliment a friend. While Ellen’s message is important, there’s another person we need to be kind to: ourselves.  

Self care is a buzzword going around right now and it deserves its hype. We need this reminder, especially in the winter and especially in Wisconsin. In the midst of grey clouds and frigid temperatures, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

What is self care?

Self care is allocating time for yourself and making yourself a priority. In doing so we aim to improve our mental health, decrease our stress, and/or grow as a person. It is not as easy as it sounds and is truly something to practice.

{What self care is not}

Make sure you are doing self care for the right reasons! Self care is not doing something for the sole purpose of wanting it on your snapchap or Insta. Self care is intended for you. If you’re trying to get the perfect pose or find the perfect filter, you’re missing the point. Take in the moment, whatever it is, and use the time to reflect on yourself and set your intentions.

How do I practice it?

Unfortunately, there is no magic recipe.  What works for one person may not work for another and what worked yesterday may not work today. But here is a quick list of things you might try:

  • Exercise – take the time to go for a jog, attend that yoga class, or pound out some squats.  There is scientific evidence that exercise can help relieve stress.
  • Breathe – seriously. Right now… take a deep breath. Unclench your jaw. There are some awesome apps out there, such as “Calm,” that can help with things like reducing stress and practicing gratitude.
  • Journal- whether you want to do free writing or prefer a more structured method, writing down your feelings and thoughts can be super helpful! I love my Start Where You Are journal.
  • Sleep – set a bedtime and stick to it. A good nights sleep can make all the difference.
  • Drink more water – guidelines currently recommend a minimum of ½ oz per pound per day. For example, someone weighing 150 lbs should drink at least 75 oz of water per day. Staying hydrated can keep us focused and improve our overall health.
  • Learn to say no – this one can be hard for us people-pleasers, but remember you need time for yourself too.
  • Surround yourself with positive people – if there are people in your life who are constantly bringing you down, reevaluate your relationship with them. Try to find people who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you!
  • Grab a cup of coffee – you honestly sometimes deserve to go to Starbucks or your favorite local coffee shop and just sip on your favorite brew. Take a few minutes to enjoy that latte.
  • Volunteering for something you care about – honestly, volunteering is the best feeling. It’s a win-win. Helping others can bring out the best in us.

All in all, {try to} stop comparing yourself to others. You are uniquely you and while you’re not perfect, remember that no one is. Even the smartest, prettiest/most handsome, coolest people we know struggle with things like self-doubt and stress. Set aside some time to be true to yourself and relish in knowing you are freaking awesome and completely deserve your moment.

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Get to know the Author!

Ashley Nowak is a social studies teacher and active member of various committees. Ashley works specifically as a co-chair of her district’s Equity Committee, member of the Mental Health Steering Committee, a LINK Crew advisor, Students for Dialogue and Social Change advisor, and former Gay Straight Alliance advisor and track and field coach. For fun Ashley organizes a book club and runs 5ks and half marathons. Ashley also enjoys spending time with her husband and new baby boy.

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