Self care is a topic that I have talked about a few times on this blog, but a situation that happened on Sunday sparked this very question about me in my own life.
Do I use self care or mental health days as an excuse or a reason to miss out on work, school studies, or home responsibilities?
My first thought was that I was appalled to even ask such a question. But as my birthday weekend comes to a close, I was supposed to spend Sunday doing homework. On my birthday, the 6th, I made an appointment to get my eyebrows waxed and tinted. I had been neglecting the brows for quite some time and not that I needed to go do them on my only real day off, well, I wanted to, claiming it as self care.
My plan was to get up early and work on school and work assignments from like 10am to 2:30pm with lunch somewhere in-between and then drive to my brow appointment. Then I was to get them done, go straight home, make dinner, and do more homework.
That didn’t happen.
What actually happened was I slept hard til about 9am and closed my eyes off and on from 9am to 2:20pm, getting up to let Poncho out to use the bathroom and feed him. He makes for a very great companion. Anyways, at 2:40pm, I left my house and drove to Ulta and got some skincare supplies along with getting my brows done, and they look awesome.
On my way to the appointment, Diego’s mom called me which led to her inviting me over for carne asada while Diego was working. It was really good food. I was there for an hour and change, I completely forgot that the Super Bowl was on nor did I care that I missed it. I came back home to Poncho and tried to do something; anything. But I just had no motivation. All I wanted to do was use my new face cleansers and moisturizers and be done with the day.
I ended up blogging, eating soup, taking a hot shower, brushed my teeth really good, flossed and used my waterpik, then I cleansed, exfoliated, and then moisturized. I put on clean jammies. Then I cuddled with my puppy. The essence of self care.
However, my question still remains: did I use this day for self care to improve my mental health or did I use self care as an excuse to avoid my work?
I gotta say, I’m pretty torn.
Mental health is super important to me, as much as I care about my physical health, which is not great, I care about my mental and emotional well being that much more. With that being said, mental health days should be as normalized and accepted as sick days are. Especially during covid times, it adds a layer of added stress and anxiety, whether you realize it or not.
I can also say that a lot of stress would have gone away if I had just done my work and school stuff like I was supposed to. But I can almost guarantee you that I would have most likely had a panic attack or had a mental health breakdown in the process of trying to catch up with all my work. This could-be breakdown would have led me to further the lack of completion of my work.
So if I wasn’t going to do work or homework regardless of how I did so, should I be utilizing my time in other aspects? Yes.
If you can’t do work or school, you should practice self care by cleaning yourself and your home. By doing this, you will feel and look good, and your house will be in good shape for when you can do your work!
Self care can look different than pampering yourself. It could be reading a book, it could be doing the overwhelming amount of dishes in the sink, it could be taking your dog out for a much needed walk. It could be setting time to do your financial budget; virtually anything that reduces stress.
It is interesting because if self care is something that reduces stress, chores and work can be apart of that, but it can also cause more stress the longer you procrastinate doing them. So I have created a list of tips and tricks to help with self care and procrastination:
Tips and Tricks to Reduce Stress
- Make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep. This can vary from person to person, I know for me personally I cannot sleep through the night and sometimes function fine on five hours of sleep during a manic phase. But as soon as the depression hits, I could sleep for a solid 16 hours straight. It’s good to not oversleep either because it allows you to get more done throughout your day.
- If you can’t concentrate on a task for 5 minutes or more, take a 15 minute break. A break is where you leave your space or work area and go stretch your legs, do something different, get some fresh air, rather then stare at a computer screen scrolling through Facebook.
- If you have little to no motivation to do work or school, do it in spurts. Work for 15 minutes, take a 5 minute break. Work for thirty minutes, take a ten minute break, and so on. If you’re in a good session of work, you’ve hit your groove then keep working! Delay the break more and more as you gain more momentum in your studies.
- If all else fails: cry, cuddle your dog, and just give up.
To answer the initial question…
You can totally use anything as an excuse to avoid work or school, but in my opinion, I think prioritizing self care and mental health over assignments will not only boost your mental and emotional health, but boost your performance in all aspects of your life.