My Self-Care Journey and Important Advice for Self-Care Week

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It’s Self-Care Week!

Did you know that the 18th – 24th November is self-care week?! I didn’t until I saw the #SelfCareWeek hashtag on Twitter this morning.

Self-care is something I’ve always struggled with. I don’t like to admit when I’m struggling, and I’ve always hated asking anyone for help because I don’t want to burden anyone.

This had to change when I started having seizures. My flatmates and colleagues stepped up to help me, even when I insisted I was fine. I had to learn to slow down and stop putting so much pressure on my self.

For self-care week, I’ve decided to write a little update on my self-care journey, and some advice that I hope is helpful for anyone who struggles with it like me!

Infographic showing ideas about what self-care can be.

When I take any personality tests, I’m always described as a ‘nurturer’. I love to take care of my friends and family, put others first and be a good listener.

Sometimes this can go too far, for example when I’ve made plans with friends every day after work, then not letting myself rest enough. This often results in a flare-up of my lupus, or I get burned out from working 30 hours a week, spending time with friends, blogging, and studying.

I have always struggled mentally with ‘relaxing’. I feel like all of my evenings need to be filled with ‘productive’ hobbies, like learning Italian, writing blog posts, or teaching myself new skills.

This had to change. In the summer, I suffered a mini-stroke and ended up in Royal London Hospital. Once I was put in a position where I literally had to rest and couldn’t study, read, or work on my blog, I had to put myself first.

Kew Gardens. An idyllic location, perfect for self-care week!
Spending time in nature is absolutely my favourite self-care method!
I will definitely take myself on a little walk for self-care week.

Things I Started Doing for Self-Care

1) I slowed down

I started walking more slowly. Why was I in a rush all the time? It’s so simple, but this has helped my joint issues, and my mental health.

I also slowed down my aspirations. Everyone is on a different journey at a different pace, and I was too eager to finish my Master’s degree and start my career. My health just wouldn’t allow it.

I was offered an extension from my university for my MA thesis and essays, which I initially refused to take. I had worked so hard and the finish line was so close, but I was convinced by my loved ones that it really was the best choice to accept it and graduate at a later date.

2) I spend more time at home

I do love to explore London and spend time out with my friends, but over the past few months, I’ve found joy in staying at home. It was definitely essential to make my bedroom a safe-haven away from the world, where I can get enough rest.

I decided to fill my room with candles, fairy lights, books, and cosy blankets. It’s perfect and I’m so grateful that I finally feel happy here.

3) I started saying no

I still struggle with saying no sometimes. When a friend I haven’t seen in weeks or months wants to go out drinking or invites me to a party, I feel obliged to go. However, I’ve had to say no recently due to my health, and I’m glad I didn’t push myself too far.

This doesn’t just apply for going out. I love to help where I can, for example, proofreading essays, CV’s or applications for my friends, but I’ve had to prioritise my own studies and recovery.

I do sometimes feel guilty when I say no, but I know I need to stop spreading myself so thin.

4) I stopped drinking alcohol

This was necessary due to the medication I’m taking, but it’s also been generally a good experience, not to mention better for my mental and physical health. I’ve enjoyed spending time going for days out, dinner, or simply coffee with my friends, instead of just drinking at the pub.

When I do go out with my friends who drink, I’ve had alcohol-free options, and not stayed out as late. Plus, my bank balance is definitely appreciating this too!

This blog post got a bit personal, but I’m glad I shared my Self-Care Journey with you. I’ve written more blog posts about Self-Care. Take the next step and try out these 21 Self-Care Activities You Can Do Right Now.

Do you prioritise self-care?

Let me know your advice for self-care week!

All the best,

- Emily

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