By Aubrey Boggs

While there is no doubt that eating healthy food, exercise, and getting good sleep are all wonderful things to do to for self-care, those things are not always feasible for everyone. Expecting all forms of self-care to be well scheduled and planned leaves out many individuals who simply do not have circumstances which encourage or even allow that type of self-care regularly or at all.

I have had plenty of experiences with too little sleep, not having enough to eat, and no time to exercise. I have come up with a list of “on the go” self-care actions I can take when I am unable to keep up my regular routine.

  • Go for a walk by myself – this is probably my favorite thing to do when I am experiencing high levels of stress, it allows me to be introspective, or to listen to a song a love while appreciating nature or the hustle of the city. If walking is not an option, as it may not be for many individuals, finding a nice spot to sit and simply be is equally calming and clarifying.¹

Take a bath or a long shower – When I am in a stressful situation I often find myself with back

or neck pain, as I sometimes become tense without noticing it. Taking a bath or a long shower

not only helps my physical pain, but it calms me down while simultaneously refreshing my spirit.

(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/07/benefits-of- baths_n_4228366.html)

 Deep breathing – There are times when I don’t have the option to really “do” anything when I

am feeling particularly stressed. If I am in a social setting or taking care of commitments I might

not have more than a few seconds to gather myself or practice self-care. In these situations I

take as many long and deep breaths as I can. (http://www.stress.org/take-a- deep-breath/)

 Call/text/talk to a trusted friend or relative – I’ve found that although it can be hard to reach

out to friends for support, I feel so much better when I do. Sometimes just saying how I feel to

someone who cares about me makes a world of difference.

(https://www.achievesolutions.net/achievesolutions/en/Content.do?contentId=10464)

 Reading – If I have a few minutes to read when I am experiencing stress, I get moment to think

about something else and stimulate my mind. I don’t just read books, but include anything that

interests me and makes me feel uplifted. Sometimes I read comics, or recipes, or even blogs to

change my though pattern and refresh my brain. (http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/tips-

change/reading-stress- relief)

 Empowering phrases– Although I felt silly when first doing this, I’ve found that announcing

uplifting messages out loud to myself, or ideally in the mirror, has immediate effects on how I

feel. I usually say things like “I am awesome”, “I got this”, “I am strong”, or any myriad of things

that make me feel good. (http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/07/24/how-to- use-self-

talk-to- improve-performance/)

What unscheduled things do you do for self-care?

  1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/a-prescription- for-better- health-go-alfresco

Amanda Kearney-Smith

I founded the Network as the Executive Director in 2011 and, before that, I was a program director at Mental Health Colorado. My educational background is in Developmental Psychology, but living with bipolar disorder has drawn me to this work. I'm most passionate about protecting the civil rights and dignity of others. In my free time, I love reading, practicing yoga, and spending time with my family here and in Illinois.

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