What I Learned About Self-Care in my Early 20s

It’s quite easy to get caught up in the mist of the life we live and forget about the importance of actually taking care of one’s physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. I’m only 21 and life definitely gets stressful as I endure college and think of life after my degree in a world crafted under multiple facades of socio-cultural dysfunction. The idea of “self-care” didn’t quite hit me until recently as I began to enrich my adult life. I have always been the type of person that literally stays busy Monday through Friday, and my weekends are lucky to be free. I’ve always heard people older than me mention the idea of taking care of yourself first, but I didn’t feel the need to initiate self-care until I reached my breaking point.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was literally a normal “college” day of stress that endured built up anxiety from class, personal problems with family back home, and job responsibilities on top of trying to help everyone else with their problems. I had to literally stop and tell myself, “You can’t do everything. Take a break.”

Self-care is about finding time to basically take care of yourself. Go for a run, change your diet, watch a movie by yourself, read a book, pray, cut your phone off, or literally just take a nap. There are only so many hours in a day, and it’s only so much we can do. I was sadden when I realized 24 hours is actually not enough time to get everything you may have in mind accomplished. Sometimes, you have to reschedule or revise the plan that you set forth to avoid unnecessary stress. It’s important to have self-care in your mind frame early on. You don’t want to be 30 and burned out because you try to bite off more than what you can actually chew.

This is a message to all who are young adults and entering their official adulthood to make sure they have some form of self-care. Treat yourself once a week, once a month, or however you may choose. Make it a habit, so it doesn’t only happen when you reach breaking points.

Lack of self-care even intersects with mental illness, like depression and anxiety, which are often unnoticeable at first. You have to take responsibility of your mind, body, and soul. The Tiny Buddha has a few suggestions on steps to take to initiate self-care, and I have chosen the ones that I have actually done myself, which include:

For the Mind

1. Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation with one minute of awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations; one minute of focused attention on breathing; and one minute of awareness of the body as a whole.

2. Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.

3. Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bingsof social media and email.

4. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just talking to a stranger at the bus stop.

5. Edit your social media feeds, and take out any negative people. You can just “mute” them; you don’t have to delete them. (VERY IMPORTANT!)

For the Body

1. Oxygenate by taking three deep breaths. Breathe into your abdomen, and let the air puff out your stomach and chest (THIS REALLY HELPS!)

2. Get down and boogie. Put on your favorite upbeat record and shake your booty.

3. Make one small change to your diet for the week. Drink an extra glass of water each day, or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.

4. Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes.

5. Get fifteen minutes of sun, especially if you’re in a cold climate. (Use sunscreen if appropriate.)

6. Take a quick nap. Ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.

Tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Soul

1. Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.

2. Write out your thoughts. Go for fifteen minutes on anything bothering you. Then let it go as you burn or bin the paper.

3. Choose who you spend your time with today. Hang out with “Radiators” who emit enthusiasm and positivity, and not “Drains” whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.

4. Splurge a little. Buy a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.

5. Exercise a signature strength. Think about what you’re good at, and find an opportunity for it today.

6. Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.

Overall, never think you’re too young to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. This is the time to initiate healthy living habits, so we will be able to live abundant lives in the future. Times do not get any easier in the growing process, but you make it worthwhile when you prepare and practice self-care.

One thought on “What I Learned About Self-Care in my Early 20s

  1. agshap says:

    You are very young to think this way but bravo for you. We as a nation are always doing….so what if we stop and smell the flowers. I believe we all need to slow down. Now that I am retired I am just learning that….While I have so much time and I work a home-based business – I do stop and read that book; I love sitting on my patio with a cup of coffee and relaxing…..It has been 6 weeks and I feel the difference already.


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