Welcome to today’s Monday blog post! I’ve been working on returning to posting on a regular basis again.
This blog is to remind people about the importance of self-care and my personal definition of that term. Wednesday’s blog is a book review and then next week, I’ll be back to creating new literature topics (in time my favorite writing month of the year). As always, you can follow me here on WordPress or on Twitter.
Let’s dive into a short snip-bit conversation about mental health during the changing seasons.
What is Self-Care?
I have hard this term more frequently over the past two years. During my first few years of being a college student, letting yourself miss class to go and relax for a bit was out of the norm. This past week, I heard a younger college student proclaim that she skipped her 9:30 AM class for a little bit of “morning self-care to fizzle out the morning blues.”
Personally, my younger self would’ve wanted to do the same thing, but as I’m now back in college I have a different perspective.
Self-care is when you allow yourself to relax, amidst the stress of life. Our own personal lives can bring out several emotions and feelings and self-care is a small part of learning how to take care of yourself.
One odd consideration for self-care, is learning what is the cause of certain emoticons and stress. Did you overload your plate this semesters with going to school full-time and maintaining a career? If so, how do you go about learning from that schedule. For me, the answer is to work within your schedule. Work out small changes to when the spring semester rolls around, you might by taking less classes or going to work less.
I can hear certain people screaming at me through the internet. “But I need to do SO MUCH to maintain academic standing, financial success, etc.” Everything has a cause and effect to it: If you work and go to school more, your down time and social time dwindles. If you have more social time per week, your dedication to school or work goes down.
Through self-care, I’ve learned where my limits are. This year, I’ve transitioned to a work-o-holic. The con to that, is that I haven’t consistently kept up with friends here in Oklahoma City. This month, I had to reduce my hours because I was just so tired of working every weekend night.
I was able to work ahead of my financial bills for this semester, which is why I’m not stressing as much as I was earlier this year on finances.
Self-care doesn’t have to include bath bombs and lavishing body care soaps. Self-care could mean listening to Holst’s composition of the planets. Personally, Holst is my favorite composer and I’m looking forward to listening to the Oklahoma City Philharmonic perform some of his music on Saturday October 6th.
Self-care can also become a problem. When you stop doing normal activities in replacement for some peace and quiet. Last week, I wrote a blog about motivation vs. self-discipline. Check it out when you can, because some tools from that blog can go hand in hand with self-care.
When You Should Practice Self-Care
Personally, this depends on you. I’m not the best at sticking with weekly or daily self-care. Feels too much to relax that much. I have taken the idea that just relaxing with a movie or artistic show, can be for both self-care and artistic date night.
Last week, I went to a theater performance of King Richard the third via Shakespeare in the Park. I had to leave during intermission, since it was already 9:30 PM and I needed sleep. As much as I wanted to see the rest of the performance, I know that sleep is more important.
We will return to self-care at the end. I’m going to open up here in a bit about my complete 180 I’ve had in relation to mental health, seasonal depression and the month that is September.
I used to cringe and dislike saying the word September. Last year, I reached my lowest point within that month and this year, I was starting to feel antsy about September. The first week wasn’t too bad this year. Weeks two and three were miserable. That’s when i realized I had been depriving myself of fun things like socializing, going out to eat, enjoying the changing weather, etc.
Now we are on the last week of September and I’m fine. I’m so excited that I was able to make it through this month, unharmed. October starts next Monday and I’m back to goal setting again.
So where did this dreaded feeling of September come from? Let’s take a yearly look at what’s happened in each September since I started college in 2012. Fair warning, it’s easy to find the patterns that occurs during this month:
September 2012: First semester as a college student at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Medical problems with marching band continues (something consistent in high school marching band, as well). Major: music education.
September 2013: Second year as a college student. Depression becomes a problem, and I have my first mental relapse. Withdrew from SFASU and moved to Oklahoma City. Lived with my grandmother to learn what was going on medically. Major: music education.
September 2014: Transferred to the University of Oklahoma, still a music education major. Realized that I wasn’t happy with my major and changed it several times over the next year. Lived with a fantastic graduate student roommate. Depression is doable this year, because I was excited about all the new things.
September 2015: Was having to take the semester off, because I had become paralyzed in the summer. Working on medical issues that had continued, even after not participating in marching band. Moved out from my apartment in Norman to then live with my grandmother and then moved in with a roommate (that only lasted three months). First fall season participating in NaNoWriMo.
September 2016: Returned to Oklahoma City after moving to Texas January 2016-September 2016. Internship in Dallas, Texas didn’t work out, because my depression kicked back in two weeks into the program. Felt quite alone during these months. Second fall season participating in NaNoWriMo.
September 2017: This was the first year I realized that September wasn’t a good month for me. Didn’t know how to handle it. Unemployed for a couple of weeks, since I’ve been struggling with keeping a job for longer than five months. No school, stolen trombone from my grandmother’s house. Mental relapse for a large portion of this month. Lost a good friend in the process. Third fall season participating in NaNoWriMo.
September 2018: Lots of blockages were removed this year and I can say the month September again.
Returned to the University of Oklahoma as a part-time student. Major is currently listed as undecided, but it should be labeled as English-Writing. Reduced work hours this month and struggled with depression and energy levels during the second and third week of this month. Still living in a single bedroom apartment and I adopted a cat (to help with SAD). Observed that I could handle this on my own and come out on top. Fourth season participating in NaNoWriMo.
September is just 30 days.
Seasonal changing continues, there’s no way to stop change and evolution.
It’s okay to be. To be who you are, where you are and how you are.
Loneliness is a part of learning more about the internal self and that one day, we will all find a group of companions and partners that will help us reach our higher selves and us helping them.
Is Too Much Self-Care a Bad Thing?
My answer to this is yes. Here’s why: if you were to spend the entire weekend doing nothing what do you learn? You learn how to sit in quite peace. That’s hardly possible for humans to accomplish. So what about doing too much of the same self-care activity over and over again? Like taking bubble baths every night. Eventually, bubble baths loose its sparkle and its something we don’t look forward to.
I always suggest self-care time to be spent evaluating ourselves. Morning pages is a wonderful place to start. Just journal by hand every morning (or evening) to let out ideas, to-do lists and feelings unto the page. No one has to see this but you. Why does it work? It allows you to compress goals and feelings overtime and you learn from past emotions and feelings.
Daily journaling and silent meditation allowed me to answer questions about what I struggled with in September 2017. Why was I letting all progress stop in September? Why did I cycle backwards during this one month? Why did I enjoy the feeling of starting over every six to nine months?
I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to keep two jobs for eight months to a year. I’ve been able to pay off small debts, as well as keep money in savings. I’m learning to make one new meal a week. I’ve read 17 books this year.
Progress is a part of life. I have to remind myself to approach each day with at least three daily goals and that goal setting is possible.
Spend one day at home, going nowhere. This one day a week task allows me to accomplish household chores, organizing and preparing for the next week. Usually this is on Wednesdays, but I’m hoping to include Sundays as off days soon.
Dedicate to one night a week to self-care or an artistic date. Go to a play, watch a romantic movie, or finish that 500 page book.
As always, remind yourself of the small progress you’ve made over the course of a year, or three years. Two years ago, I was living in a empty house. I had no money. All I had was a laptop and basic necessities. Since 2016, I’ve been able to transform the medications I take, and how I spend my time. Procrastination is okay, too.
And, I’ve been able to stay in one city for two years. I might’ve moved to live alone, but it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that it is possible to sit still for a moment of time.
Below is a few links to other blogs I’ve written about personal well being:
This blog was lengthier than originally intended. Which I’m okay with, because I’ve been wanting to open up about seasonal depression and various mental health subjects over the past few months. Hope you enjoyed this personal blog and I wish you a fantastic ending to September!