After having a serious panic attack last spring, I decided to begin self-care Fridays.
After my dog died in April, I never imagined how much it would affect me. It took an episode of extreme panic for me to realize that I was not only stressed out and suffering from the grief of losing my dog, but I was in serious need of some self-care.
I finally realized, I need to do something for myself—I needed to love myself more in order to stay mentally healthy. I decided to institute self-care Fridays for myself and came to some important realizations.
The Importance of Self-Care
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, stress affects your entire body, both physically and mentally. Common stress signs include headaches, insomnia, aches, pains and tense muscles and stomach issues. After Moe passed away, I finally realized I was not only experiencing deep emotions of grief but also stress from wondering what life would be like post-Moe. I found myself getting into an anxious spiral, worried if Moe was what was keeping my boyfriend and myself together, and if his loss would have a profound effect on our relationship. I am now relieved enough to be so happy that I was aware enough to realize that I needed to take care of myself first. By making sure I am taken care of, I can devote more time to my relationships.
Easy Ways to Care for Yourself
After dealing with another anxiety flare-up, I decided every Friday I would do something to care for myself. I’ve done simple things like get a Starbucks iced coffee in the morning before work, or pause in the middle of freelance writing to use my portable foot massager for a quick 15 minute time out. Sometimes I just stop what I’m doing in the middle of my day and go for a walk around the block.
I’ve also done larger-scale things too, like go get a spa pedicure at my favorite nail salon or see a movie by myself and get a big bag of salty popcorn. There are plenty of other ways to take care of yourself too, including ordering your groceries instead of trekking to the supermarket or just getting some exercise. Sometimes, freeing up your time is helpful for your own mental health too.
You’re probably thinking, why did you decide on Fridays to do nice things for yourself? I have always seen Fridays as the celebration of making it through the end of the week. I know if I can get to Friday in one piece, I have a weekend ahead of me to rest and relax.
I think some of it stems from my childhood too. Friday night was family pizza night in my house. We would often all get together and watch nostalgic shows like the old TGIF lineup or The Simpsons.
My Realization Once I Started My Self-Care Fridays
During the times I set aside for myself every Friday, I began to come to a few realizations. Every time I have felt very anxious, especially to the point of fainting, I was not properly caring for myself. I was not eating healthy, or I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I was often so stressed about what others thought of me. I also began to see just how hard I am on myself. I now see that during the time I set aside for self-care, I can better reflect on what bothers me.
While my Friday tradition is still fairly new, I appreciate that it is slowly helping me discover more about my anxiety, my “triggers” and how to better cope with what concerns me on a daily basis. It has even inspired me to start seeing a therapist every other week. In short, I’m learning how to love and accept myself.
The concept of self-care may seem gimmicky these days, but it really just comes down to learning what’s right for you. There are so many options. Next time you feel overwhelmed, take some time for yourself. By setting self-care into your regular routine, you’re more likely to stick to it. I’m sure glad I did.
Are you feeling stressed out and now sure how to deal with it? You’ll want to read this.